Summary: This sermon addresses the subject of dealing with the disappointments we face in life--in particular, our disappointments with God.
Walking When It Hurts
I. An Age-old Problem
A. Disappointment with God
B. Conclusions and responses
1. God is not
2. God is, I’m the problem
3. God is and beyond my understanding
II. An Ageless God
A. Eternal Creator
B. Infinite in power and knowledge
C. Provider of all that is needed
III. A Timely Answer
A. Weakness is a universal experience
B. But strength comes to those who hope in God
C. God’s strength comes to us in three forms
1. Ecstasy—“mount up with wings”
2. For a special task—“running”
3. Daily strength—“walking”
This morning I’d like to address a subject that is geared especially for Christians. I am intentionally pointing out this fact because I will be dealing with a subject that many Christians try to deny. I will be talking about the “dark side” of our faith experience—the part we try to hide, cover up or otherwise refuse to admit—and yet when we are all alone, it is very real and haunting. I am convinced that our investigation this morning will take us to a place where each of us has been—a look at a universal phenomenon that every believer has faced, will face and/or may presently be facing.
The universal experience to which I am referring is the valleys we all go through from time to time in our Christian walk. I don’t believe that there is anyone here this morning that can honestly say that his/her life as a Christian has only been “ups.” All of us have walked through the valleys of life. All of us have been hurt. We have all felt the pain of disappointment. And whether or not we have actually vocalized what it is that we really feel inside concerning those experiences (that is, if we didn’t feel as though it were heretical to utter), I would imagine that we would all admit that we have been disappointed with God. In one way or another, we have felt as though God has let us down.
For each of us there are many differing circumstances that have helped to foster these feelings of disappointment with God. You may have prayed earnestly for the recovery of someone who was diagnosed with a terminal illness. You had faith that God would heal according to His Word. But after going through agonizing months of pleading, watching and waiting, your loved one just continued to weaken and eventually died. Perhaps you believed that placing your faith in Christ would save your marriage. You really tried to be the loving, submissive spouse the Bible talks about. But you received the divorce papers anyway. Or, you may have done everything within your ability and knowledge of the principles of God to raise your children in the right way. You took them to church. You had regular family devotional and prayer times. But now they are far from the faith that you instructed them in. We have all been through the valleys of life. We have all felt disappointment with God.
I’m going to be honest with you. The message I bring this morning is not an easy one for me to deliver because I have felt the sting of disappointment with God just as you have. It’s also not easy because I have no easy answer for this problem we all face. I’m not going to give you “Three Easy Steps to Avoid Disappointment with God”—I’ve yet to discover them. But what I give you today I hope will enable you to better understand what you are going through and help you to find the strength to continue to walk when it hurts and it doesn’t make sense to keep on walking.
This morning we will take a look at an OT passage that addresses the subject of disappointment with God with a twist. The twist is that we will be looking at it from God’s perspective. What God is saying to us this morning, through the mouth of this prophet, is that we will find the strength to walk when it hurts as we come to a proper understanding of who God is and we willingly exchange our finite strength for His infinite power. Please turn with me in your Bibles to Isaiah 40:27-31. (For those using the Bibles found in the pews, this passage is found on p. 540). We will investigate this passage in sections rather than read it in its entirety.
An Age-old Problem
Isaiah begins by addressing an age-old problem. Look at v. 27.
I can see myself so plainly in the grievance that the people of Israel were bringing against God: Why me, God? Why have you turned your back on me? Why don’t you listen to my cries? Don’t you care about what I’m going through? Is it too much to ask that you enter into my problems and solve them? Is this how you repay me for casting in my lot with you while those you hate you prosper? What’s the deal? Is anybody listening?