Summary: Isaiah speaks to us in the exile of our fears, our anxieties, our worries, and he says, God is great--he is bigger than our problems. God is good--he is tuned into my concerns. And I can put all of my hope in the Lord, knowing he will come through.
Keeping God in Proper Perspective
Prophets with a Purpose – Week 4 - Isaiah 40:21-31
We are in week 4 of our series, “Prophets with a Purpose.” Today we’re returning to a prophet we looked at in December, because Isaiah had a lot to say about a coming Savior. In fact, during that series, we actually looked at the first half of today’s chapter, Isaiah 40, when God promises comfort. If you remember, chapters 1-39 of Isaiah are written primarily to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, warning of its impending fall to Assyria, which happened during Isaiah’s lifetime. Chapters 40-66 are written to the Southern Kingdom of Judah, to prepare them for an exile that would occur over 100 years after Isaiah died. God’s people would be carted off to the foreign kingdom of Babylon. Yet, Isaiah assured these future readers of God’s continued presence with them and his plan to eventually return them to their homes.
Although this passage was written some 2,700 years ago, it is still relevant for us today. Are there not times when we have been taken captive? Maybe not by a foreign country, but certainly by our worries, our anxieties, our uncertainties, our disease, our distress, our sadness, our grief. We need reminding that God is still on the throne, and that nothing is beyond the possibility of his redemption.
Today’s outline is simple. Please repeat after me: God is great! (repeat) God is good! (repeat) Let us thank him for our food. No, just kidding. Let’s try again. God is great! (repeat) God is good! (repeat) Put your hope (repeat) in the Lord (repeat)! That’s it! So let’s pull these points out of today’s verses. First,
1. God is great! He is bigger than my problems (vv. 21-26)
In verses 21-26, Isaiah records God’s greatness. God is so far above the globe of planet earth that we all look like grasshoppers to him. He created the heavens, including every star that hangs across the canopy of the night sky. In verse 26, Isaiah says God holds every star in place. Earthly rulers are like seeds that are swept away by the wind. They serve at God’s pleasure, whether they know it or not. They are here today, gone tomorrow. God says, “Who are you going to compare me with? There is no one my size, no one with my strength.”
If God is great, that means he is bigger than my problems. Think about some Bible characters who faced great challenges. Moses stuttered, so God gave him a sidekick in Aaron. David was tiny, so God guided his smooth stone right into Goliath’s forehead. Mary was unmarried, so the Holy Spirit placed a seed, THE seed inside her womb. Paul had a “thorn in the flesh,” so God said, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Jesus endured the cross, so God gave him a resurrection.
I remember like it was yesterday being in the ICU room with Bill and Mary. Bill was losing his wife of over fifty years. One moment Bill looked at me and said, “Pastor, this is harder than being a fighter pilot in Vietnam!” Yet, Bill... and Mary...knew God was there!
God is bigger than anything you face. Your problem may SEEM big, but God is bigger. When we’re in the midst of difficulty—when we just got the diagnosis, when our best friend betrays us, and yes, when our spouse is about to die—that problem, that challenge seems absolutely overwhelming and even impossible to survive. Yet, we discover if we remain faithful that God is bigger.
God is great, and...
2. God is good! He is tuned into my concerns (vv. 27-31)
God’s people are headed toward exile. For SEVENTY YEARS, they will wonder whether God has abandoned them. Yet, consider Isaiah’s challenge to them in verse 27: “Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God’?” Do you ever find yourself believing God has given up on you? Do you ever think, “Maybe he’s too busy,” or “Maybe he doesn’t care”? It’s tempting. Sometimes God seems a long way off, and we wonder if he knows, and if he does, does he care?
?Isaiah reminds us, “Yes, God cares.” God is good. Verse 29: “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Right when you think you’re at the end of your rope, God helps you to keep going, to put one foot in front of the other, to get out of bed in the morning, to leave your room one more time, to keep going forward, to keep on living.
Recently I spent a couple of hours in the emergency room with a Veteran who was having delusions that everyone was out to get him and his family, and even the country. We convinced him that it would be okay for him to come to our mental health inpatient unit, where he was admitted voluntarily. Later, he wanted to leave, and the team and I continued to work with him to see that a voluntary stay was in the best interest of him and his family. Through all of this, both he and his wife have mentioned a desire to consider getting to know God better. Even through the challenges of believing the whole world is out to get you, somehow God can speak to your soul and say, “I care about you. You matter to me.” I believe this Veteran and his wife are experiencing that. Please pray for them.