28   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. 29 He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. 30 Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; 31 but those who wait for 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. 

-Isaiah 40:28-31 (NRSV)

This week, the lectionary brings us into fellowship with the exiled Israelites facing a serious spiritual crisis. After witnessing the atrocities of death, abuse, domination, and their violent and forced deportation from the land that God gave them after their enslavement by the Egyptians, the Israelites are faced with the question of God’s presence. Surely, in the face of such suffering, God abandoned them, turned the other way, and grew tired of their pain, anguish, and desperate cries for deliverance. Wrong! God has neither abandoned them nor has He grown tired. He is present, able, and vibrantly committed to deliverance and redemption. 

Instead of espousing grand platitudes concerning God’s omnipotence and resting his calls for resilience on the cosmic, Isaiah pleads his case by relating God’s vibrant love to something else that we consider lively and restless: youth. Isaiah tells Israel to hold fast to the LORD even as even the most energetic “youths will faint and be weary.” We must persevere, not because we are young and enthusiastic and not even for perseverance's sake, but because God is with us, renewing us right when we feel the most discouraged, troubled, and distressed. 

This is not an easy task. Some of us are too sick, too tired, too exploited, and far too heartbroken to endure, but God’s ever-flowing love is our life raft in every sea of despair. Isaiah shows us God’s love and compassionate understanding of us and our tiredness. Just as we watch our babies sleep with their little bodies exhausted from life and we look lovingly as they recharge (sleep and rest), is how God looks toward us. 

For parents, Isaiah tells us to endure because God’s love is the sustaining force that keeps our families together, even if we struggle to make ends meet. Isaiah’s call to let God’s love renew our spirits and bodies is not just a test for our families when we struggle. Isaiah’s message even resonates in times of abundance. Even during the times when our refrigerators are full, and we have our choice of nice winter coats on a cold day, we should not fail to remember that God “does not faint or grow weary” because inevitably, a time will come when our memory of Isaiah’s words to Israel will be the difference for us, our children, and every creature and place God created for us in His loving harmony. 

Everlasting God, we pray for resilience. We believe in the grand magnitude of Your renewing love, and we receive Your love with the obligation that You call us to spread Your love to the ends of the earth! When our family is well nourished and warm, we pray for those families that aren’t, and we offer our family as a workgroup to feed, clothe, and love those in need and the others that may not yet know the greatness of You and Your love! In Jesus, we pray and trust. Amen!

Questions for reflection: Does your family have any practices that help you all recharge as a group, or are most of your resting practices individual? Do you see any possibility of implementing any activities where you all might be able to collectively physically and spiritually recharge? What would those practices look like?