Saint Lucas Lutheran

Church, School, Pre-K and Child Care in Bay View, WI

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Home Church Sermons Isaiah 40:28-31 Epiphany 5 February 4-5, 2012

Isaiah 40:28-31 Epiphany 5 February 4-5, 2012


Several years ago someone told me that scattered about in the rocky Mountains of Colorado there are individuals who have chosen to live as hermits. They have chosen to drop out of society and live completely isolated from anyone else. Why have they done this? There could be various reasons, of course. Perhaps some want to escape a painful memory. Perhaps some are on the run from the law. And perhaps some have chosen to live this way because they’ve decided to live out the way they already feel: forgotten, passed by, ignored by the world around them. Ever feel that way? Aren’t there moments in each of our lives when we feel so forgotten and so misunderstood that we wish we could crawl into a hole and pull in the hole behind us? God has something to say to you. This evening/morning, from Isaiah chapter 40, our theme is this: GOD SPEAKS TO THOSE WHO FEEL FORGOTTEN. He does not grow tired of remembering you. He will replace your weariness with strength.
     As Isaiah sat down and wrote these words, God’s people were feeling forgotten. It wasn’t because of any particular crisis that they felt this way, at least as far as we know. It’s possible that what was getting to them was simply the sameness of it all, the unrelenting difficulty of trying to live the life of a believer in a world that could not care less. As a result, they felt as if their problems were hidden from God’s eyes, as if God were either unwilling or unable to see what was going on, as if God were simply tired of paying attention.

In response to His people, this is what God said through Isaiah: Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasing God, the Crator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary. “Don’t you know the promises I’ve given you in My Word?” the Lord was asking. “I am everlasting. I created everything. As I watch over you, I will not grow tired. I will not grow weary of remembering you. Ever.”
     Do you neglect old friendships? In your mind’s eye can you see images of good friends from your past, friends you have not written, or called, or emailed, or facebooked or seen for some time because the present buzz of daily life has distracted you from doing it? What if God operates the same way? Could it be that, over time, His commitment to us might begin to fade, to waver, to move on to other things that are more urgent, more worthy of His attention? If you’ve entertained that thought even for a moment, God wants you to understand something here and now: His zeal for you – His love for you is as fresh and alive now as it was the moment He claimed you as His own when He brought you to faith. The love that drove Him to come to this earth, the love that drove Him to the cross to pay for your sins, the love that moved Him to rise from the dead – that is a love that never tires. It is a love that never grows weary. And it will never get tired of remembering you.

God speaks to those who feel forgotten. He does not grow tired of remembering you. And he also tells us that He will replace your weariness with strength.
When I was growing up on a farm in Minnesota, I recall sprinting across the yard or across a field to get a tool for my dad. And as I remember it, after I got done with my sprint and brought the tool he needed, he would sometimes look at me and quietly say, “Youth.” I think I now appreciate a bit more what he meant by that comment. Some time ago I had to sprint back and forth a couple times to retrieve something, and when I got back into the church building a much younger church member looked at me and asked, “Pastor, why are you breathing so hard?” Why? Because I’m not a youth anymore. The pure energy that a young person has is a wonderful thing to behold, isn’t it? But even the strength of youth has its limits. Just watch a grueling football practice or basketball practice or wrestling practice, and you will see that even young people at the peak of their performance can reach a point where their strength is gone. Isaiah acknowledge the same thing. He said, Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men fall exhausted. Human strength, no matter how great – human strength has its limits.

And that’s why the strength that comes from the Lord is so radically different. Those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, Isaiah said, with the idea that the Lord would replace your limited strength with His own. Isaiah continued: Those who wait for the LORD…will soar on wings like eagles. “Look at how eagles can soar on currents of wind for hours without getting tired,” Isaiah was saying. “That is how the Lord’s strength will carry you.” Finally, Isaiah said, Those who wait for the LORD… will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. When you place your confidence in the One who always keeps His promises, the strength you need to walk through this life will not go away. For your strength will not be yours. Your strength will be the Lord’s.
     Consider this scene: 5 men are trapped in a coal mine after an explosion. Pitch darkness covers them like a shroud. For a while they keep their spirits up, telling each other that the rescuers will come for them for sure. But they hear nothing, only a thick silence and the sound of their own breathing. Time passes. Nothing. More time passes. Nothing. Their sense of time begins to warp and distort. They’re not sure if a day has gone by or several. Their water runs low. They’re hungry. They begin going through a dizzy cycle of anxiety and anger and loneliness and despair. More time passes. Exhaustion sets in. More time passes. Now they know it’s the end. But then a voice. A voice calling out their names. The voice is coming from a 2-way radio that’s under the rubble somewhere nearby. The voice tells them the rescuers know exactly where they are, that they’ll get there soon, and that the men just need to hold on for a few more hours. The men find the radio, tell the rescuers that they heard the message loud and clear, that they’re ok, and that they’ll happily wait for them. And suddenly these exhausted men realize that they now have more energy in their bodies than they know what to do with. You and I are in a mine shaft. The mine shaft is this broken, sinful world. It’s dark. It can be terribly unpleasant. Perhaps worst of all, we often can’t see what’s beyond our own fingertips. On our own, our strength would quickly fade and die. But in the darkness comes The Voice. It’s the voice of our Lord from the Word of our God. It’s the voice of His Gospel telling us that He knows exactly where we are, that He knows exactly what we are going through, and that we have no need to be afraid, because He’s washed our sins away and He is going to see us home That voice is what revives us when we are discouraged. And it revives us not only to survive for another day. It revives us to walk and to run and to soar on eagles’ wings. For we are not forgotten. The Lord has a plan and a purpose for our lives. And he will lead us home.

God speaks to those who feel forgotten. He does not grow tired of remembering you. He will replace your weariness with strength.     Amen.
 

 

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