Questions abound in Isaiah 40: Have you been paying attention? Who is like God? The questions continue in these verses: “Have you not known? Have you not heard?” In other words, how clearly do we see what is right in front of us?
The voice of Isaiah echoes the voice of God in the story of Job. There is the witness of nature to the care and company of God. There is the witness of nature to the vast and utter power of God. There is the call to look up, lift your head, and see what is about you. Look back and remember what you learned from the beginning. Dust it off and add to it what you have learned since then. It all adds up to a life lived in the company of all God’s creation. A life of community and heartbreak—and a brief life at that.
When we consider power in this context, we might expect fear and hope to pale in the sight of it; but power is being shown by care for those whom God acts on behalf of. God’s attention does not come and go. It stays where it has always been, and it brings restoring power to the young and the strong. God’s restoration comes for those who respond in hope to God’s beckoning and wholeness-making actions.
To wait on the Lord is to be able to see, or to wait to see, believing that which is not only unseen but unfathomable when looking at what is right in front of our eyes. The cycles of the earth, the strength of the eagles are all reasons to be hopeful, to live in expectation, to practice imagination.
Compassionate God, when life rocks us and threatens to erase our memories of your good and faithful provision, grant us enough memory to know that you are with those who mourn, those whose hearts are broken, and those who turn to you for hope and meaning. Amen.
What is the ultimate source of our strength? All the authors for this week come to the same conclusion: True strength comes from the Lord. Isaiah asks his audience: Who is like God? God never grows weary and provides unfailing strength to those who wait for God. The psalmist praises God as the one who lifts up those who are beaten down. It is not those with human strength who are truly mighty but those empowered by God. In Corinthians, Paul states that he has laid down any form of his own strength so that the gospel may advance. Jesus heals many in Mark as a demonstration of his power over the physical world. Thus, God’s power is not just a metaphor but a reality.
• Read Isaiah 40:21-31. When has your focus on past events or ones yet to come caused an inability to perceive God’s work in the present?
• Read Psalm 147:1-11, 20c. What part of your life bears witness to humanity’s desire for winners and losers? How can you help others see God’s desire for wholeness?
• Read 1 Corinthians 9:16-23. What behaviors are you willing to take on or give up “for the sake of the gospel”?
• Read Mark 1:29-39. What intrigues you about the pattern of concealment and revelation in Jesus’ life that Mark’s Gospel portrays?
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