“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Christ provides the clearest and greatest picture of what it looks like to be someone’s friend. He gives all of himself for others—that's true friendship. But friendship is not a one-way road....
Christmas season is the season of joy, but it is also a time when the cumulative weight of all that has happened in the course of the year catches up with you. Moving into the last month of the year often causes a sense of being worn out, discouraged, or stretched thin. Someone described it to me as a “collective weariness.”
What is the answer to collective weariness? Where would we look in the Bible for help when we feel jaded, discouraged, and generally worn out?
My mind goes to Isaiah 40: “They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31). That speaks to me. That’s what I need, but how do I get there? How do I get to Isaiah 40:31? The first 30 verses of this chapter might have something to do with it!
Isaiah 40 is full of anticipations of the birth of Christ, but I want to use this article to show the promise of renewed strength God gives to all those who are discouraged at the end of the chapter.
Lean into The Truth You Know about God
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. (Isaiah 40:28)
God reminds his people of what they already know, what they have often heard, because faith is strengthened, not by learning something new, but by coming back to what we have heard and known.
Faith is strengthened, not by learning something new, but by coming back to what we have heard and known: Christ crucified and risen for us. What is it that every believer knows and has heard about God that we need to lean into in these times of weariness?
God is your Creator
The Lord is…the Creator of the ends of the earth. (Isaiah 40:28)
God formed you in your mother’s womb. He gave you life with the purpose of redeeming you. He purchased you at the cost of his own Son. And, he infused a new life into you, recreating you in Jesus Christ.
God does not grow weary
He does not faint or grow weary. (Isaiah 40:28)
God sustains all that he has made. He never runs out of resources. He never tires of you. There is never a time when God looks at you and says, “Where do we go from here?”
God works on an everlasting timescale
The Lord is the everlasting God. (Isaiah 40:28)
Time is at his disposal. None of us knows what God will do in the coming year, let alone in 10 years or in 50 years, or what God will do in the lives of our children or grandchildren. The granddaughter of your rebel son may turn out to have a ministry beyond anything you can imagine.
No one can fathom his understanding
His understanding is unsearchable. (Isaiah 40:28)
None of us will ever fathom the mind of God, or gain a full picture of what he is doing. So why even try? His understanding is unsearchable!
Lean into The Truth That You Know About Yourself
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted. (Isaiah 40:29-30)
Notice the words that are used here: “faint,” “no might,” “weary,” “fall exhausted.” That’s us! And notice that this is us at our best: “even youths shall be faint and weary.”
Then God says “Young men shall fall exhausted.” The phrase “young men” literally means “picked men.” This is like athletes who are in peak condition, the ones who catch the eye of the Olympic selection committee.
At the end of the marathon, even athletes in peak condition are weary. Some fall exhausted. Others look faint. Why? Because their bodies have been through a test of endurance that has pushed them to the limits.
There are limits to all human endurance. Paul describes our bodies as tents (2 Corinthians 5), not palaces made of stone and held up by marble pillars, but tents made of canvas and held up by ropes that stretch, sag, and fray. So, no Christian should be surprised at this experience of weariness. God has placed his treasure in jars of clay. We live in this earthly tent that one day will be torn down.
Here’s what you know about yourself: You are not God. You’re a created being with limits to your own strength and endurance. You will become weary. You will know what it is to feel spent and exhausted. Feeling worn out should not take you by surprise. Lean into the truth that you know. But that’s only half the answer.
Lay Hold of the Hope That You Have
Laying hold of the hope that you have is the natural result of leaning into the truth that you know. When you lean into what you know about God (that God is the everlasting Creator and that he does not grow weary), you will look to him and, as you do, he will give you strength:
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. (Isaiah 40:29)
Notice the word “gives.” This is an action of God in relation to his own people at times when we feel our strength is depleted, and our faith is burning low. He “gives power” and he “increases strength!”
How does God do this? God does not faint or grow weary (Isaiah 40:28). The way he gives strength to the weary is that he gives himself to you. This is not some zapping with power that moves an exhausted Christian into bionic overdrive. The effect of this strength is that God’s people keep pressing on. They keep running. They keep walking.
Christ gives his Spirit to those who hope in him so that something of his divine power may touch us in our human weakness. Strength comes as we ascend by faith into the presence of the Lord and commune with our living Savior. Here’s what will come from that: You will keep running. You will keep walking. You will keep pressing on.
Go to Jesus this Christmas
Some of you do not yet have a living faith in Jesus Christ. I ask you today: Do you not know your own Creator? Have you not heard that strength and hope can be yours through Jesus Christ? This Savior says to you who are worn out, and to all of us, today, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).