Isaiah, part five

One of the most famous and uplifting verses in the Bible can be found in Isaiah chapter 40. If you’ve spent even only a small amount of time around believers there’s a chance you’ve heard the verse.

Isaiah 40:31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

This very verse was spoken over me last year when I was seeking guidance from the Lord on something, and was also used as part of a crazy cool blessing someone spoke over me just last week. I adore the verse right along with so many others, but today I want to look at some of the stuff that leads up to this verse. I’m gonna swap over to The Message for this, as that’s what I was studying out of for this section of Isaiah.

Isaiah 40:27-31 Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
or, whine, Israel, saying,
“God has lost track of me.
He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind.

There’s a lot of cool stuff in there, but what really just jumped off the page at me is this. God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. Here’s what I wrote down when I read that for the first time:

Don’t ask “where is God”, ask “where am I”.

God is not with you today and gone from you tomorrow. He is not hidden in the clouds or veiled in the depths of the ocean. This is a God who desires to be known, who’s great desire is to have a relationship with you. He is upfront about that, ready and willing to commune with you at any time of the day, at any moment. If you so desired you could be with Him in prayer, engaged in deep conversation, this very second.

I’ve heard this question asked a lot, sometimes by believers, and often times by non-believers. “Where was God when…”. I really just felt the Holy Spirit on me as I studied this verse that we ask the wrong question. The question should be “Where am I”. Because God’s position is unchanging, He lasts, He does not come and go. So if I’m feeling “far from God”, which is a phrase many people (including myself) will sometimes use, it’s not because God left. It’s because I did. It’s because I shied away from Him, I resisted His call into fellowship and relationship, resisted His lordship in my life, tried to do things my way instead of submitting to His way. I just really feel strongly that we need to grab hold of this truth. Our positions may shift, we may wander, but God never does. Being far from God is an active escape attempt on our part, whether we realize it or not. If you feel far from God I’d encourage you to just stop, examine what you’ve been doing, and then just spend some quality time deep in worship and prayer.

I’d be shying away from something tough if I didn’t dig a little deeper here. I brought up that question, “Where was God when…”. Well, the second half of the question varies, and sometimes it can be heartbreaking. Where was God when my wife was dying of cancer? Where was God when the killer shot those cops in Dallas a few months back? Where was God when I was being abused? Well, as hard as it can be to understand, He was there. Those weren’t His days off, it wasn’t the one time He went on break and He just missed it. God was there. And so the question turns to this. If He was there, then why didn’t He do something? And I wish I had some easy answers, I wish the truth of the matter was easy to swallow, that it would immediately and completely erase the pain for people who went through those situations. But sin and free will makes everything messy. Sometimes God does act. God swoops in and heals, He makes miracles happen, causes guns to jam, causes an assailant’s shots to miss even at point blank range. And sometimes He doesn’t. If I had the answer to why it happens one way sometimes and the other way the other times I could fill a million seat church, but I don’t. I know God was there, in the tragedies, in the heartbreaks. I know that He’s always at work, that there’s no darkness that He can’t bring light out of, that ultimately His love conquers all. I have utmost faith in God’s goodness, an absolute trust in His overall plan, in His unwavering commitment to justice. I wish I could loan my faith out to those who lack in their times of pain or confusion, I wish I could drape it over them like a blanket and share it. Because I know that for some people these aren’t truths, they’re just empty words, that to some people all I’ve done is drop some pretty words onto a whole lot of ugly situations. To those people I just say that I love you, that I’m sorry you’ve been struck by tragedy, that the events of your life have made you feel far from God. I say that you’re in my prayers, and I encourage you to take every thought, no matter how angry, and tell God about it. Ask Him yourself where He was, ask Him why He didn’t act within your tragedy. He’s a big God, I promise He can take whatever you’ve got to say to Him.

I didn’t intend for the blog to go in this direction today, but I didn’t want to tiptoe around this challenging aspect of God. I’m not ashamed of God, and I’m not going to be someone who shies away from discussing His more vexing or hard to grasp characteristics. And besides, the point remains the same as it was at the start of today’s blog. God is always with us. When we realize it, and when we don’t. The only one who wavers in this relationship is us, it’s never Him. We may not always understand His ways, may not always agree with what He’s doing, but we can rest in the knowledge that no matter how tough life gets, we will never ever be in it alone.

PRAYER AND CLOSING

Father God, thank you so much for your constant presence.  Thank you that you’re here, even when we’re not aware of you.  Thank you that when we falter and stumble and run away, you never do.  Lord, I ask you today to please touch the lives of those who are going through tough times and tragedies.  When they reach out and say where are you God I ask that you would just sweep them up in your arms, remind them that you never left, that you’re right there with them.  Help us understand, help us deal when life gets toughest.  Help us trust in you, even when it’s dark outside.  I love you Lord, and I thank you for all that you’re doing in our lives today.  In the precious name of Jesus I pray, amen.

Love you guys, I gotta get out to an assignment for my job so I am outta here!

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