Grace For The Journey
According to the American Institute of Stress (yes, there really is such a place), stress causes around one million workers to miss work every day. One million a day! Whether American workers currently on lockdown (COVID-19) are presently experiencing more or less stress at home will differ among households, but one million workers not working each day in America because of stress – that’s just amazing.
The word “stress” has become increasingly popular over the last few decades. People talk about things being “stressful” or their being “stressed” and “stressed out.” Americans go to “stress management courses” and read books and listen to CDs and podcasts that teach “how to manage stress” or “how to cope with stress.”
Stress also takes a toll upon the body’s circulatory system, respiratory system, and digestive system. Stress affects us physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.
If we don’t deal
With our stress,
It will deal with us!
In today’s blog, we will look at Isaiah 40:27-30, which is a great passage in the Bible for us to learn God’s way to help us deal properly and effectively with stress. We will see three vital truths:
1) We Need To Be Encouraged By The God Who Sees Us.
Isaiah is prophesying about a time during which the people of God are held captive by the Babylonians – that would definitely be a stressful time them! God’s people often wondered where their God was. Did He see them? Did He care? Could He do anything about it?
Speaking through the Prophet Isaiah, God responds in verse 27, “Why do you say, O Jacob, And speak, O Israel: ‘My way is hidden from the LORD, And my just claim is passed over by my God?’” Have you ever spoken that way to God? “God, you must not be able to see me. I mean, I hear preachers talk about how You are so powerful and I read about You in the Bible, but I guess I’m the exception; You must be able to see everyone else but me!”
In this passage God is essentially saying, “YES! Yes I do see you, and yes I care about you.” Verse 28 reinforces this statement, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.”
Here’s a paraphrase of what Isaiah is saying: “You must not have enough information. Or maybe you have forgotten what you learned. Allow Me to inform you; to enlighten you about the God Who sustains you!”
2) Be Enlightened about the God Who Sustains You.
Isaiah gives God’s people a little theology lesson. He could just as well have said, “Let me share with you why God is able to help you in this stressful situation. Let me tell you about the God Who sustains you, supplying you with everything you need to get through every single day.”
Isaiah shares with them the first essential the truth about Who God is – The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, God is everlasting! Someone might object, “But what was before God?” Everything has a cause, so what caused God?
What’s the answer to this problem?!
The problem is not the answer,
The problem is the question.
The question assumes
Something, or someone,
Existed before God.
But God is everlasting.
He has always been.
He is eternal in nature.
There never has been a time
When God was not.
He has always been.
He is the “uncaused cause,”
If you like.
Isaiah is enlightening God’s people about their God. He reminds them that God is everlasting. God is the One who created the ends of the earth, including everything inside the earth, which includes them. He is an awesome God Who has the ability to sustain them and supply them in their time of need.
Isaiah gives us the second truth of Who God is when he says, “neither faints nor is weary.” That’s the true God of the Bible! Unlike man, God never faints nor is weary. Isaiah will go on to say in verse 30, “even the youths shall faint and grow weary.” That is, “Even the ones we consider to have the most strength and energy eventually faint and become weary.”
Like little boys and girls running around the living room. Even they (eventually!) become tired from all their running around.
Isaiah gives us a third truth of Who God is when he states, “His understanding is unsearchable.” That’s Isaiah’s way of saying, “God is in control. He knows everything about you and your situation. He knows you inside and out and has a plan for you, though you may not understand it completely.”
That’s really comforting to us when we start to feel stressed. God’s understanding is unsearchable. That is, God’s plan for your life includes some things that you may not understand, but you can trust Him. So rather than getting stressed out, remember that God knows what you don’t. He has more information than you do and He knows what to do with that information for your good and for His glory.
3) Be Empowered by the God Who Strengthens You.
Isaiah declares in verse 29, “He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength.” When we start to feel stressed, we need to be empowered by the God Who strengthens us. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. And here again is that teaching we read a moment ago from verse 30, “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall.”
We are human beings. Our bodies, created by God, are subject to the effects of the Fall. Because of sin in the world, everything is less than perfect, including our bodies. Even the best of us—the most conditioned and physically fit—eventually become faint and weary. And when we run out of strength, be it physical strength, emotional strength, or spiritual strength—you know what happens? We become stressed.
So what is the answer? God tells us in verse 31, “But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength. I used to think to “wait on the LORD” meant just to kind of stop and be still; to be quiet, and meditate. That’s not exactly what it means to “wait on the LORD.” The Hebrew word translated “wait” here is not a passive term, but an active term. The Hebrew word translated “wait” is not a passive term, but an active term. It’s a bit like the way we use the word “wait” to describe a “waiter,” the server who brings our food at a restaurant.
We go into a good restaurant and we sit down. After a few moments, a “waiter” comes over to our table. He or she may even ask, “Has anyone ‘waited’ on you yet?” Or they may say something like, “My name is John and I will be ‘waiting’ on you.”
What he means, of course, that he is going to be serving you, coming into the room periodically, looking at you expectantly, seeing if there is anything he can do.
In this context to “wait on the LORD” means we do something. We turn to Him, we look up to Him, we go to Him and place our faith in Him. And if we’ll do that, the Bible tells us what follows, “But those who wait on 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.”
The word “renew” there is a word that is best translated here as “exchange.” Those who, when they become stressed, go to God, will “renew,” will “exchange” their dwindling strength which has become faint and weary with God’s strength, the God who never faints or becomes weary.
If we try to deal
On our own,
We will go
This is precisely why we must turn to God and be empowered by His strength. If we try to deal with stress on our own, we will go from “stress” to “distress.” Exchange your strength for God’s. Be empowered by the God Who strengthens you. And when you do, you will “mount up with wings like eagles, you will run and not be weary, you will walk and not faint.” How? Because you will be flying, running, and walking in the strength of God rather than flying, running, and walking in the strength of man.
Going to God every day, seeking Him through prayer and study of His Word, is a great way to exchange your strength for His each day.
The old hymn has it right:
“Take time to be holy,
Speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always,
And feed on His Word.”
This is God’s Word …
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”