Nothing Left to Give

Renewing your strength even when you’ve got nothing left to give is hard. But God is often all about hard.

Why do you say, O Jacob,
and complain, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:27-31)

Isaiah prophesied about the coming destruction of the nations of Israel and Judah. The destruction was designed to get the Israelites to correct two long standing problems: their tendency to worship other gods, and the tendency of the rich and powerful to oppress the weak and poor. But what Isaiah had to say to them–and even the coming punishment–was not actually bad news.

Consider what the author of Hebrews wrote:

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:5-11)

Though God would judge his people, the judgment was designed to reform them, not destroy them. Like a teacher giving a test, like the drill sergeant pushing his recruits the last mile, like the trainer telling you to give him another pushup, so what God was doing and would do to Israel was not from spite or hatred or just so God could vent. It came out of a desire to fix a problem, a serious weakness in the soul of his people. And so, to help them understand, God offered his assurance through Isaiah, that as tired and hurt and struggling and miserable as today was, every sunset carries the promise of sunrise. Dawn follows the darkness of midnight. The discipline would pay off.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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