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Jesus Gives Strength to Soar

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The Lord gives strength to the weary. They are renewed by him to continue life in this world. Isaiah uses picturesque language to bring this thought across—they will soar on wings like eagles.

Intro: Do you know the name Simone Biles? She is the best gymnast in the world right now. She can perform the most difficult movements, and has even invented new ones! But what’s even more amazing is how she makes it look effortless! But it’s really not, is it? Sure, there’s probably a certain level of natural talent there, but she has trained and practiced for countless hours to perfect what she does. If we had the ambition to do what she does, we would likely get tired and frustrated at our continual failure and throw in the towel.
Now, compare that to the eagle soaring through the sky. How does it do it? It certainly looks effortless! And in large part, it is. The eagle didn’t have to train for countless hours to be able to do that. It knew by instinct how to fly. And it hardly does anything to keep itself aloft in the sky, but depends on wind currents and thermals to soar. There’s a great appeal to that, isn’t there? To do something so well with no effort at all.
If only life itself could be that easy and effortless! But it’s not. Going through life often feels like one failure after another, one problem after another, one disappointment after another. We’re not soaring free, we’re slogging through mud and muck. And at times we may just feel like throwing in the towel and giving up. If you’ve ever felt that way as a Christian in this world, you’re not alone. I think we all feel that way sometimes. But you’re also not alone in this sense—Jesus is beside you, and he isn’t going to stand by while you’re overcome by the painful existence of life in this world. No, Jesus Gives Strength to Soar!
Let’s read Isaiah’s words from 40:27-31.

Why do you complain, Jacob?

Why do you say, Israel,

“My way is hidden from the LORD;

my cause is disregarded by my God”?

Life in this world exhausts us

There’s so much to complain about!

The Israelites are well-known for their complaints

The Israelites knew how to complain. From the time they were in Egypt, it seems that’s what they did best. Remember when they were at the shore of the Red Sea and saw the Egyptians bearing down on them? They complained to Moses and God, saying that they would have rather served the Egyptians than die at their hands in the desert. Later, when there was no food or water, they remembered the pots of meat they had in Egypt, and asked why God didn’t just kill them there. They complained when Moses left them, they complained about the manna, they complained about the report of the 12 spies that went into the Promised Land, and on and on and on...
Maybe we look down on the Israelites, but doesn’t their complaining actually make a lot of sense? If you had gone through the things they did, would you have reacted any differently? If you were a slave forced to do hard labor, do you think you’d never complain? If you were standing on the shores of the Red Sea, seeing chariots and horsemen riding at full speed to attack you, might you have some words for the one who put you in that spot? If you were out of food and water, wouldn’t you grumble at least a little? If there was nothing new in your life (like eating the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 40 years), wouldn’t you get tired of it all and eventually lose it?
From that perspective, maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on the Israelites. They had it rough. Their lives were not smooth sailing.

What do we have to complain about?

In addition to that, we find plenty to complain about as well, don’t we? And that in spite of the fact that we probably don’t have it as bad as the Israelites did. No foreign power is bearing down on us to kill us, we have plenty of water in spite of the fact that we live in the desert! No shortage of food either, and we certainly have the luxury of being able to eat just about anything we could want. But that doesn’t mean our lives go smoothly either. I’m sure it doesn’t take long for any of us to recount a number of things in our lives that we wish were going better, problems that would just go away, and disappointments that would disappear. A lot of times we seem able to manage it all, but there are days, aren’t there, when we just don’t have the energy for it anymore. We’re exhausted by it all, and we wake up dreading what the coming day will bring.
It’s at these points that we often start to wonder and ask:

Doesn’t God see?

God knows everything, right? God is everywhere, right? Doesn’t he see what’s going on in my life? Isn’t he aware? Doesn’t he hear me when I cry out to him about these things? Has he taken a break from watching over me? Has he himself gotten tired or exhausted? If not, why isn’t he helping me?
That may lead to a scarier question in our hearts—Is it possible that God doesn’t care? He must see and hear. He must be aware. He’s God. And maybe that’s just it. He sees me, and he disapproves. He hears me, and is ashamed. Because what he sees and hears is so opposite of what it should be. He sees my ingratitude for all he’s done for me. He hears all my complaining. He knows the thoughts I keep captive in my mind so that no one else will ever know them. It’s not a hard logical leap to conclude from that that the reason we’ve got all these problems is that God really doesn’t care about me, because I’m just not worth his time and attention because of my failings. And if the devil manages to get us to believe that lie, even for a short while, the exhaustion and weariness we feel will become all-consuming.
But, brothers and sisters, our lives in this world don’t have to be so exhausting. When we turn to the Word of the Lord, he provides us with plenty of reasons to continue living in hope. That’s why those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength

Let’s continue our reading from Isaiah:

Do you not know?

Have you not heard?

The LORD is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired or weary,

and his understanding no one can fathom.

29 He gives strength to the weary

and increases the power of the weak.

30 Even youths grow tired and weary,

and young men stumble and fall;

31 but those who hope in the LORD

will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint.

Have you ever been out of the loop on something? Maybe there’s a big announcement to be made, like a friend that’s pregnant, and somehow everyone else finds out about it before you. When someone finally tells you, they act surprised, saying, “Oh, didn’t you know?” like it’s been common knowledge for a long time. That’s what Isaiah’s doing here. As he talks to Israel, and us, he’s a bit surprised that this is something that we need to hear, yet at the same time, he’s very eager to remind us of these things.

Remember who the Lord is

You know how, when you know a person well, you can start predicting exactly how they will respond to things? That’s just how he or she is, we often say. Well, Isaiah is telling us we can predict how God will respond as well when we know him well. So, remember who the Lord is.

The Lord is the everlasting God

First, he reminds us, “The LORD is the everlasting God.” What a comforting thought! God isn’t here today and gone tomorrow. He’s always been there for us, and he always will be. That’s just who he is.

He is the Creator of the ends of the earth

Second, the LORD is the Creator of the ends of the earth. He made it all. He made you; he made me. And what he has made, he continues to have power over. The Creator is the Almighty God, for whom nothing is impossible. And he wields that power for the good of his people. That’s just who he is.

He will not grow tired or weary

Then Isaiah tell us that God will not grow tired or weary. This isn’t a testament only to his strength and power, though it speaks to that too. It’s a testament also to his patience and compassion. God doesn’t get weary of being God. He doesn’t get tired of watching over you, or of repeating the same gracious promises to you again and again.

He stuck with the Israelites and continued to proclaim his promises

See how that was true for the Israelites? How many times they complained against him? Yet never did he cast them away and say, I will no longer be their God! I’m finished with those foolish, unbelieving people! He remained with them, disciplining but forgiving, patiently teaching them to trust. That’s just who God is.

Jesus stuck with his Father’s plan and continued to proclaim himself as the Messiah

This amazing patience and determination continued when Jesus walked the earth. Though Jesus certainly was subject to physical fatigue, he never tired of his mission to save the human race. He never tired of reaching out to the people around him with his grace and mercy. He never gave up on anyone, though many gave up on him. When he had to experience unthinkable pains in both body and soul, he did not turn aside or flinch. He continued, strong and steadfast, to win salvation for every weary soul, to make them perfect in his sight, to deliver them from Satan’s lies. That’s just who he is.

God sticks with us and continues to proclaim his promises to us

That same Lord and Savior is with you today. He hasn’t grown tired of you. He treasures you. The sins that should cause him to cast you aside have been paid for, and nothing could ever cause him to turn away from you. As he was with you yesterday, he is with you today, and he will be with you for every tomorrow you have left. That’s just who he is.

His understanding no one can fathom

So if God is everlasting, always around, and the Creator, almighty and in charge, and never tired or wearied in doling out patience and mercy and grace, the question remains… why the pain of this earthly existence? Why not do away with all the problems, all the failures, all the disappointments? Isaiah tells us the answer: His understanding no one can fathom.
Have you ever played Cranium? It’s a board game where you have to answer questions or perform tasks to move your piece around the board. One of the categories has a task called Zooma. On the card, there are 3 different pictures, and you have to guess what they all are. The tricky part is that the picture is so zoomed in that you don’t get to see the whole object. It can be hard to make accurate guesses when you don’t see the whole picture.
How much more difficult, then, to accurately assess our life situation and God’s responses to it! Think about it… We are human beings whose existence in this world is compared to a breath on the wind. We, of course, are laser-focused on everything happening to us, and we are so tempted to think our existence is what everything else revolves around (or at least, we think that it should). But there’s so much else going on. There’s so much else we don’t know about or understand. But God knows it all. He has an eternal perspective and can take past, present, and future into account. He sees and knows everything about everyone. He knows all the consequences about the choices you and I make, and he knows all the consequences for the what-ifs as well. That’s just who he is.
Here’s the point: knowing who our God is, what seems more likely—that God isn’t who he says he is (contrary to his Word), that God has turned away from us (contrary to his promises), or that God knows something we don’t?

Knowing him gives us strength to soar

When we understand these things and by God’s grace believe them, it’s life-changing. When I understand who God is and what he has promised me, I know that the problems that consume my mind are consuming his even more. I know that as much as I want good things for myself, God wants good things for me even more. I know that when I’m hurting because of whatever it is, God is hurting more. Do you see what I mean? If there are things you’re struggling with in life (and there are for all of us), God wants to get rid of those things as much as you do! If he hasn’t done it yet, it’s because he understands something we don’t about how those things can serve for good. God cares about you and what you’re going through even more than you care about it yourself. He loves you more than you could possibly love yourself.
Are you soaring yet? You getting through the trouble of this sin-filled world has so little to do with you. You don’t need to practice and train for countless hours. You just need to listen and believe, and the words and promises of God will lift you up as the wind lifts the eagle. This is how Jesus gives us strength for life in this world. He tells us about himself. About his love. About his care. About his willingness to stick with us and go the extra 10 billion miles to live and die in our place to give us a heavenly home at his side. When the world exhausts you, turn to Isaiah’s words, God’s words, and put your hope in him. Remember who your God is. And Jesus will give you strength to soar above the troubles of this life and to rest in the loving, protective embrace of his promises to you. Amen.
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