Isaiah 40:21-31 (and Mark 1:29-29)
The story is told of a little boy and his father. They were walking along a road when they came across a large stone. The boy looked at the stone and thought about it a little. Then he asked his father, “Do you think if I use all my strength, I can move that rock?”
The father thought for a moment and said, “I think that if you use all your strength, you can do it.”
That was all the little boy needed. He ran over to the rock and began to push on it. He pushed and he pushed, so hard did he try that little beads of sweat appeared on his forehead. But the rock didn’t move — not an inch, not half an inch.
After a while, the little boy sat down on the ground. His face had fallen. His whole body seemed to be just a lump there on the earth. “You were wrong,” he told his dad. “I can’t do it.”
His father walked over to him, knelt beside him, and put his arm around the boy’s shoulder. “You can do it,” he said. “You just didn’t use all your strength. You didn’t ask me to help.”
The world in which we live tells us that it is all up to us. It tells us that we have to be strong and independent. It tells us we can’t and shouldn’t count on anyone or anything else. And yet, what faith tells us and what Jews and Christians have known forever is that we have a ready resource in God, strength for those who ask.
Our Gospel reading from Mark 1 shows Jesus nonchalantly healing Peter’s mother-in-law, who in turn immediately begins serving those in her home. Regardless of what we might say about roles in the home, this woman has a heart that cares about people and about serving. Amazing!
Also amazing is Jesus’ healing everyone who came to Him that night with a boatload of problems. He healed every disease and cast out every demon. Amazing!
But even more amazing is Jesus’ resolve to recenter His soul and reconnect with His source of strength. Specifically, going to His Father in prayer in solitude. Even Jesus, our Savior and Lord, had to make prayer a priority! What does that say about us and our prayer habits?
That is why our reading from Isaiah 40 is so incredibly important for you and me. The prophet Isaiah is speaking to a disheartened people who were on the verge of giving up hope and faith. They were living as strangers in a foreign land as exliles. They felt abandoned and neglected by God; and that God was somehow powerless against the governments and rulers of their day.
God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah reminds them and us that our Lord has no equals…anywhere. The Lord our God is the Creator of heaven and earth, of the expanse of universes and galaxies. The Lord our God is the “everlasting God.” Consider the list of attributes Isaiah lays out for our God:
- eternal (no beginning, no end—timeless)
- creator of all that exists—even distant universes and galaxies!
- omnipotent (meaning all powerful)
- omniscient (meaning all knowing)
- merciful and gracious—giving strength and power to the weak and weary
- loving—God never ceases to care and provide for His people—US!
We need to re-read passages like this over and over again; let them soak into the fiber of our beings, wash over our weary souls! And then, to learn what it means to “wait on the Lord!”
Consider these possibilities.
- Waiting on the Lord might mean learning to rest in and trust God despite the issues and difficulties you are currently experiencing.
- Waiting on the Lord might mean being patient even when the world seems to be tipping the balance toward chaos and confusion. God is still in control!
- Waiting on the Lord might mean not pushing my agenda or my hopes and desires for the way I want things to work out. Rather, yielding myself to the invisible, yet loving hand of God working in and behind the scenes of human affairs.
- Waiting on the Lord might be our surrendering and saying, You are God. I am not. And I am okay with that and rest in that and find peace in that! Our God is the “everlasting God!” He doesn’t feint or grow weary! He defends the weak and comforts those in need. He lifts us up on wings like eagles!
- And from that vantage point we can move forward in doing the good we can, everywhere we can, all the time we can, to all the people we can—even when we feel small and powerless. Because we believe that God hears and uses our prayers and our obedience in the little things to make a difference in this world. He is the Everlasting God!
In Jesus’ name. Amen.