Summary: When we wait on the Lord, we continue on, relying on God for strength.
Title: When Life Is Hard
Text: Isaiah 40:21-31
Thesis: When we wait on the Lord we continue on relying on God for strength.
A businessman was late for an important meeting and couldn't find a parking space. As he frantically circled the block, the man got so desperate that he decided to pray. Looking up toward heaven, he said, "Lord, take pity on me. If you find me a parking space, I'll go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life, and not only that, I'll give up drinking." Suddenly, as if miraculously, a parking space appeared.
The guy looked up again and said, "Never mind. I found one."
I love good pie. I especially like a pie that with a pretty crust that crumbles and melts in my mouth. Mary Poppins is credited with a wonderful line regarding the fragile nature of promises. She said, “Like a pie crust, a promise easily made is [a promise] easily broken.” Promises are often made with sincerity but they are fragile and crumbly and sometimes break-up and fall apart..
When we get burned a few times on broken promises we tend to become skeptical of promise makers, especially political campaign promise makers. An election promise is a promise made to the public by a politician who is trying to win an election. They have long been a central element of elections and remain so today. Election promises are also notable for often being broken once a politician is in office.
I admit I did a double take when I heard Newt Gingrich announce that, if elected, he would establish a colony on the moon by the end of his second term in 2020. And despite the fact that the UN says no one country can claim sovereignty over the moon, the US, Russia and China disagree. So the plan is to have a settlement of 13,000 Americans on the moon and then to declare the moon a US state. (Fox Van Allen, Newt Gingrich promises to build a moon colony by 2020: make it a US state, Yahoo! News, January 26, 2012)
Personally I am more interested in a promise that would make for a little more heaven on earth than more earth in the heavens.
I wonder sometimes if we don’t view the promises of God in the same light as we view the promises of a politician. I wonder if we might sometimes think God has not held up his end of the bargain, so to speak, and when that happens, God’s reputation is at stake.
I think that is how the people of Israel were feeling in our Scripture text today. Life was hard and they were not happy.
I. Life is Hard!
Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Isaiah 40:27
They were not happy with their circumstances and from their perspective, God could not see what they were going through, i.e., “my way is hidden from the Lord” and God was disregarding their cause or their right. In other words God was both blind to their circumstances and they were the victims of injustice at the hands of the God who was supposed to be showing them his favor and blessing.
A quick read of Isaiah 40 reflects a prophetic word to the people of Israel in which God tells the people their sins are forgiven and they are not to be afraid because, “Your God is coming!” Isaiah 40:9
Meanwhile they were living in exile in the land of Babylon. Their homeland was in ruins. They cities were destroyed, Their temple was a pile of rubble. Their family members and friends were often either dead or missing. And they had done everything right. They had repented of their sin and they had turned their hearts back to God… now they were wondering, “Where is God?”
I am reading a new book by Skye Jethani titled “With.” It is very well written and in language I can understand and in it he explores the various ways we tend to relate to God. One of those ways is to live life under God. When we live life under God we are diligent in living in obedience to God. The premise is if we do it right and if we live like God wants us to live, then God will bless us. It is something of an understanding or a bargain.
Here’s an example: Steve Johnson is a wide-receiver for the Buffalo Bills. On November 28, 2010 the Bills played the Pittsburg Steelers. In overtime Steve Johnson dropped a pass in the end zone that would have won the game for the Bills. After the game Johnson tweeted God on Twitter saying, “I praise you 24/7!!! And this is how you do me!!! You expect me to learn from this??? I’ll never forget this!!! Ever!!” (Skye Jethani, With, Thomas Nelson, p. 27)