Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 July 29, 2018
“Strength for the Weary in Christ”
We find ourselves, even here in that garden spot we call the Western North Carolina Mountains, in the dog days of summer. Some have tied these days to the farthest northward trek in the night sky of Sirius, the Dog Star. Others have noted, laconically, that the dog days are so hot and humid that a dog won’t move during them. My working definition of the dog days’ range is Independence Day to Labor Day—though the nights tend to be less warm here beginning in late August.
Perhaps we find ourselves short of strength in these days. Perhaps we find our physical strength flagging due to heat, to humidity, to strenuous physical efforts, or to infirmities—to name but four. Perhaps we find our mental strength in short supply due to mental exertions; certainly students and teachers understand this condition in June—and perhaps all summer. Also, we may find our spiritual strength at low ebb due either to providential trial or to heightened spiritual exertion—in such areas as prayer, Bible intake, Christian study, and fasting, among others. We need God’s strength—especially as we relate to Him. Happily, what we need, the Lord has. Let us hear about it in His Word from Isaiah’s Spirit-led pen.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
Isaiah’s prophecy at 40:1 takes an abrupt turn—from God’s general chastisement of His people to His consolation of them. The turn is sufficiently abrupt that many Bible-believing scholars have busied themselves with the question, “Why?”—with no consensus answer presenting itself. Let others worry about that question today, and let us delight ourselves in God’s Person and promise. God, in today’s text, consoles His people both with His greatness (as He does throughout this chapter) and His promise for the good of His covenant people in Christ. Let’s look at these each in turn.
First, God declares His greatness—as He has from this chapter’s outset. He, speaking through the written words of His prophet Isaiah, asks, “Have you not known? Have you not heard?” These questions may be either actual (maybe His people don’t know what follows, in view of recent chastisement) or rhetorical (maybe they indeed know, and, hence, these questions presume an affirmative answer). God teaches His people in any case—and God, declaring His greatness, reminds His people of His infinity. God is infinite in duration; from everlasting to everlasting He is God—as Moses declares through the Spirit (Psalm 90:2). God is infinite also in wisdom. Paul declares through the Spirit to the Romans and to us, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!” (Romans 11:33). God also is infinite in strength and energy. He never tires, nor does He become tired. Behold, one and all, our great God.
Second, God promises precious good to His people. He promises strength to the weary and might to the ones without strength. This in contrast to the usual order of things, where the rested have all the rest and the strong have all the strength. God tells us today in His Word that young men will grow weary—though it seems the healthy ones never do—and that youths surely will stumble, or stagger, or totter. It seems that such stumbling, et al., occurs only in the weak and in the impaired—but it comes even to the young under sufficiently large effort and load. Yet God, despite every expectation, strengthens His weak ones.
The great promise of this text now meets us. Those waiting for the LORD will renew their strength. The Hebrew verb here translated wait (Hebrew qawah) can mean wait, or look eagerly for, or hope (as the NIV translates this verse). This waiting implies focused attention upon God and humble, confident expectation of good things from Him. As we wait upon the Lord, He renews our strength. He recovers for us strength lost, or spent, or dissipated—and often He replaces far above what we lost.
Now we turn to further description of this renewal of strength. The Holy Spirit tells us that the ones thus renewed by God will go up on wing as eagles. Imagine what God here declares to be true. We, the weary in Christ Jesus, will rise and soar in His energy for His glory. This is very good news indeed. Moreover, the renewed ones will run and not grow weary in the running—and they will walk and not be weary in the walking. It does not sound as if God wishes to give us a mere level of strength to ensure our mere exhausted crossing of the finish line every day. Indeed, we shall rise and soar and run and walk—and these to the praise of His glorious grace.
Paul, to Corinthians, “Though our outer man is wasting away, our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). It is true that, as our years grow many and our experience grows long, our physical bodies perform neither quite as well nor quite as long as once they did. It is also true that God supplies His strength for every moment of His perfect providence. Indeed we need, and we have, strength such as the Lord promises in today’s text. We have it for day-to-day existence, and by it we are able to discharge all our needful daily duties. We have it for perseverance in providential trial; we have His strength as we struggle against sin and as we struggle to endure hard providential circumstances. We also have God’s strength in abundance for renewal of our devotion unto Him. This is true not only in an individual sense, for we each need renewal for individual pursuit of Him, but also it is true for us corporately as
a local church. We need the renewing power of God to worship Him well in this place, to enjoy one another here, and to be used of God in bringing others to join us in Christ and in worship of Him. We even have God’s magnificent strength even when we consider the visible Church on earth today; may He, by His grace, renew—yea, revive—His Church in every sector of His earth this day. God gives this strength to a degree that only can be called miraculous—and He gives as we wait for Him, look eagerly for Him, and hope in Him. Therefore, receive His strength by faith, O Christian. AMEN.