December 27, 2011 Devotion Sharing (Isaiah 40)

Submitted by Daemin K. of Gracepoint Berkeley Church

The truth that “all men are like grass” grows more and more evident for me personally as I grow older and see the reality of the world, and the reality of my own frailty.  This is a truth that I’d known in my head, but one that I had not fully internalized.  What does it mean that all men are like grass?  Are men that frail?  Are we that weak?  The resounding answer from life is yes.  In my own life I experienced the helplessness of man against ravages of disease, as I struggled with diabetes for most of my life, even losing my sight for a number of years.  I know we are incapable of controlling our own life.  And this Christmas I visited several of my relatives who are now aged and very frail.  People I remembered being strong and full of vitality are now tired, sickly, and unable to even care for themselves.  As grass withers and dries up into chaff, people grow old in this world, and their strength is dried up.  But it’s not just the elderly who show frailty.  I personally know of some young people with their whole adult lives in front of them who also seem so lost, not knowing what’s going to happen in their future, not really knowing how they are to live in order to find satisfaction let alone happiness.  These young are just as helpless and at life’s tender mercies.  As Isaiah writes, even youth grow tired and weary.

At the same time, Isaiah writes about the opposite trait for God – that he is truly powerful and majestic.  God is full of power and glory, and is everlasting.  As Isaiah points out, he is beyond understanding of frail human minds.  God is incomparable, and there is none other like God. He is the Creator of the ends of the earth and the universe, and sovereign.  He is all that man is not: full of strength and energy that never wanes, full of glory that doesn’t diminish and wither, and plans that are everlasting rather than fleeting.

The amazing thing is that these two themes intersect and come together to give us the answer to the problem of man’s frailty.  Isaiah writes that the all-powerful God is aware of man such that our problems and concerns are not hidden from God.  Isaiah describes God tending to man like a shepherd carrying a lamb.  God gives strength to the weary.  It’s not up to man to try to find his own strength, to try to come up with a way to preserve his own life.  We will grow tired and weary, whether we are the top one percent, the most competent and capable and strong and humanly powerful person, or whether we are weak and poor and sickly.  But the good news is that the story doesn’t end at v.30, but goes on to v.31 – those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  In fact, they are described as soaring like eagles in contrast to just walking and running.

This is so true in the lives of those who follow God.  This is the testimony of Christians who “hope in the Lord” rather than in the world or in ourselves.  As I recognize the reality of my own frailty more and more, I find strength in God who teaches me what’s right and wrong, what is good and noble, what is the way for me to live, what is the way I can find meaning and true purpose by serving.  God strengthens me through his Word and community to repent when I sin, to go through the struggle of dealing with my deeply rooted issues, to learn to love others and to be loved.  As I get older and become more “frail,” I’m stronger in knowing God’s love, and my hope in God grows.  It’s not about how strong I am – it never was – it’s about how strong God is, and how I’m connected to God.  When I was younger, my hope was in my abilities or potential to achieve something – now I see that that was always a fool’s hope – no achievement or success would last.  Now I’m more refreshed by doing God’s work than I’d ever felt before.  I feel strengthened and motivated more than ever to push on in life.

Man is indeed frail and like grass.  But we were not designed to rely on our own strength and power – we were meant to live with strength and power from God.  When man sins and breaks off from God, frailty results along with tragedy, pain, and death.  When man repents and reconnects with God, man reconnects with the source of strength.  Now, what’s important in my life isn’t about how strong, or how competent, or how knowledgeable, or how wealthy I am, but how much I’m connected to God and how much I hope in God.  In God, even my weaknesses, my frailty, my bad health, vision loss, and all other brokenness can serve to reveal God’s strength and bring glory to God.

The difference in the people I deal with and relate to isn’t how strong or frail they are in human terms – whether they are young and full of vital energy or not – but in where their hope lies. Whether young or old, those who hope in the Lord renew their strength and find true life.  A week ago, I had the awesome privilege of witnessing an elderly gentleman give his life to God at one of the convalescent homes where we hold worship services each Sunday.  He’s lived 98 years.  Although he’d attended churches much of that time, he confessed that he never had assurance of salvation.  After a Christmas message, this man made the decision to trust Christ. He’s frail and in convalescent care, but he now has hope in the Lord, and found the strength that was never truly in him but in God.  I’m thankful that I get to experience transformations like this, and that further strengthens me and pushes me to serve God and share the gospel.  I’m thankful that I get to see the truths of Isaiah 40 in life.

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