Name Above All Names

One aspect Scripture places on trusting God is the emphasis on trusting in His name. Psalm 33:20-22 says, “Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” But what does it mean to trust in God’s name? How can our focus on the name of God help us in the midst of our trials and suffering?

To trust in the name of God means we acknowledge that God’s name is above every other name. God is sovereign, and His name is holy. No circumstance, no person, no other god is a match for the sovereign and holy God of the universe. Nothing – absolutely nothing – can compete with the Name above all names. David expresses this truth in Psalm 138:1-2, “I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.”

God is exalted above all things, and His name is exalted above all things. This means that everything dark and evil and painful in this world is only a name. Divorce, cancer, Coronavirus, barrenness, unemployment – these are just names and are no comparison to the Name above all names. And when we consider our brokenness and sin, these are just a name as well, for God’s name is Love and Mercy and Forgiveness. No matter how deep our sin, God’s forgiveness reaches deeper. No matter how far we have wandered from God, His loving and merciful arms reach farther to bring us back to Him. No matter how helpless we feel our condition is, when we find it impossible to change anything, God can change everything. What great reasons these are to trust God unreservedly!

So let us be counted among those who know God’s name and put their trust in Him. Then we can confidently proclaim along with David, “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you” (Ps. 9:9-10).

Let your soul rest, my friend, in the Name above all names. Trust in God no matter what your situation is, and know that His steadfast love and faithfulness are yours in abundance.

In God’s divine love,

Peggy

The Goodness of God

“God is good.” While this is certainly a true statement of our heavenly Father’s character, in times of suffering God’s goodness often comes into question. How could such a loving God and Father allow us to endure such devastating circumstances? Why doesn’t He stop the pain and suffering? Certainly the all-powerful and sovereign God of the universe, who is in control of all things, could intervene in our circumstances and the world around us to alleviate suffering. So why doesn’t He?

The psalmist David expresses God’s goodness in Psalm 31:19: “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!” Here, David tells us that God treasures up His goodness. It is stored up, or kept in reserve, for those who fear Him and take refuge in Him until they need it, then He graciously distributes it. It is similar to what the farmer does when the fields are ready for harvest – he waits and stores up the crop until it is required to harvest and distribute. So it is with the goodness of God. He does not empty it out in mass quantities all at once for us to appropriate, but keeps it in reserve until we need it.

This doesn’t mean that God is only good some of the time or only when we need Him to be. It simply means that God, who gives us so many rich things to enjoy, distributes His goodness in abundance as need arises. We never need to fear that we could ever come to the end of God’s goodness, for it is impossible for Him never to have more to give. We can never reach the limit of God’s blessings and goodness.

One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. (Ps. 145:4-9)

The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. (Ps. 145:17)

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Ps. 34:8)

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Ps. 100:5)

Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. (Ps. 25:8)

Or are you [so blind as to] trifle with and presume upon and despise and underestimate the wealth of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering patience? Are you unmindful or actually ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repent (to change your mind and inner man to accept God’s will)? (Rom. 2:4, AMPC)

When we find ourselves in times of suffering and in need of God’s goodness, we discover He is there to supply us with all that is necessary to carry us through the dark valley. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4). When we have strayed from God and are overwhelmed by the weight of our sin, God’s goodness leads us to repentance. The best of God’s goodness is stored up for us for any and every situation. We can never exhaust God’s goodness nor escape from His abiding presence. Psalm 139:7-12 gives us this assurance.

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

God is good and He wants us to experience His goodness. But a life of ease and prosperity provides little opportunity to experience the abundance of God’s goodness. It is through times of suffering that we get to know God better and experience the vast depths and dimensions of His goodness. So let us not grow weary or hardened of heart in the midst of suffering, for God is doing a great work in us as He leads us to experience His goodness in ways we could never have otherwise known!

In God’s divine love,

Peggy

Heaven In Our Eyes

I think one of the greatest challenges we face in the midst of suffering is keeping our focus on the eternal. When we are weighed down by the weight of our trials, our eyes naturally fixate on our burdens and what is going on around us. So how do we change our focus from the earthly to the eternal? How do we keep heaven in our eyes while earth is weighing us down with trials and suffering? The author of Hebrews helps us focus our attention heavenward by calling us to remember those who have gone before us. Read what he says in Hebrews 12:1-3:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted

Just prior to this, in chapter 11, we read of the many men and women who, by faith, believed and accomplished the impossible, and many of whom “were tortured, refusing to accept release, so they might rise again to a better life” (v. 35). These saints also “suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains of imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about…destitute, afflicted, mistreated” (vv. 36-37). These “great cloud of witnesses” are our motivation and encouragement to persevere in the midst of our suffering. Even more so, we look to Jesus who endured the cross for our sake, and is now seated in heaven with God the Father. Consequently, God has “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6), hence granting us citizenship in heaven through “Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Php. 3:20-21).

Our trials are painful, and suffering is inevitable, but if we learn to focus our attention on heaven and the glory that awaits us there, we unexpectedly find ourselves sharing in Paul’s grand profession of confidence: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18). Paul reaffirms this profession in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

No matter what trials or suffering we face, let us keep heaven in our eyes. Let us remember that our afflictions are light and temporary compared to the eternal weight of glory that is ours in heaven. Likewise, let us be steadfast in faith, remembering that we are not alone in our suffering: “[Be] firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Pet. 5:9-10).

Keep heaven in your eyes, my friends! No matter what your are going through, remember that heaven is a far greater prize than the trials we endure here on earth.

In God’s divine love,

Peggy

By Faith

Unquestionably, many are familiar with 2 Corinthians 5:7: “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” This is certainly a Scripture verse that gives us hope and encouragement as we journey through life with its many trials, but I wonder how many people actually understand this verse in its context of what Paul is writing.

Here is what Paul writes in verses 1 through 8:

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 

Paul opens the chapter with “For we know.” He has just contrasted our light temporary affliction with an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, and things that are seen and temporary with things that are unseen and eternal (2 Cor. 4:17-18). Paul then proceeds to write more about this contrast between the earthly and the eternal.

In verse 1 Paul says the “tent that is our earthly home” is merely temporary, one that will ultimately be “destroyed” by physical death. But then Paul introduces the grand contrast that, though we die and leave our earthly body, we have “a building from God,” a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. This means we are more than our bodies and explains why Paul could consider all the pain and suffering he endured in his body as light temporary affliction compared to the eternal weight of glory to come.

Paul continues in verses 2 through 4 in speaking about our earthly bodies groaning because of the burdens of life. Consequently, we long “to put on our heavenly dwelling,” to put on our eternal bodies like new clothing. Christians groan because we see both the limitations and frailties of our physical bodies and the superiority and glory of our bodies awaiting us in heaven. Hence, we earnestly desire our new bodies, not because we want to get rid of our earthly bodies, but because we want to have a perfect, resurrected body. We desire to be clothed in our heavenly bodies “so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:54, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” When we receive our eternal bodies, life completely conquers death. When we receive our eternal bodies, the groanings of this life – the affliction, the pain, the suffering – will seem but light and temporary in comparison to the eternal weight of glory that is beyond all comparison.

Therefore, we are all the more hopeful because God “has prepared us for this very thing” and “given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” Presently, God is preparing us for our eternal destiny. That God is preparing us for eternity is Paul’s way of saying that our light temporary affliction is working towards our eternal weight of glory. But Paul also understands that when the trials and suffering are difficult on earth, it isn’t always easy to take comfort in our eternal destiny. That is why God “has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” God assures the promise of heaven with the presence of His Holy Spirit right now.

So then, “we are always of good courage.” Just as the presence of the Holy Spirit in Paul’s life gave him courage and confidence, we too can be confident of the Spirit’s presence in our lives. Moreover, the day will come when we will no longer be “away from the Lord” but present with Him in heaven. Right now, however, our eternal glory and destiny is a matter of faith. Because we are “at home in the body” and “away from the Lord,” we therefore must “walk by faith” as we await our eternal glory in heaven. But on that day when we are in the glorious presence of God, we will not have to “walk by faith,” but we will behold the glory and presence of God “by sight.”

Because “we are still in this tent,” in our earthly bodies, we will groan as we encounter life’s trials and suffering. Yet “we are of good courage.” Why can we attest to such confidence? Because we have the promise that even though we presently live in our earthly bodies and are not yet “at home with the Lord,” we know our new resurrection body and home awaits us in heaven.

Let us, then, along with Paul, consider the trials and suffering we endure as light temporary affliction compared to the eternal weight of glory to come. Let us “walk by faith” and “not by sight” in the reality of God’s presence with us and the certainty of heaven that awaits us.

In God’s divine love,

Peggy

Triumphal Procession

Our world is in the midst of a great crisis and pandemic with COVID-19. Incidentally, we are also in the midst of Holy Week, a time of reflecting upon Christ’s triumphal entrance into Jerusalem and culminating in the celebration of His resurrection on Easter Sunday. Yet, we celebrate Easter in hindsight of events that, some 2000 years ago, didn’t appear to be anything but tragic. As Jesus was mocked and beaten and hung on a cross to die like a common criminal, His triumphal procession into Jerusalem didn’t seem so triumphant. Similarly, many are questioning today what good, if any, can possibly come from such devastation and tragedy as COVID-19. Is there anything redeeming or triumphant in such a crisis?

The astounding answer is “yes.” Look at what God says in 2 Corinthians 2:14-15:

14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

Did you notice the astounding phrase “God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession”? Wow! As Christians, we share in Christ’s triumphal procession. How so? This Scripture says that, through us, God “spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of [Christ] everywhere,” and that “we are the aroma of Christ to God” to the world. As Christ’s representatives here on earth, we bring the precious and sweet fragrance of His light and hope to a dark and devastating situation. Ephesians 5:2 tells us that “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, [as] a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” This is the redeeming and triumphant message of hope to a world devastated with tragedy and loss. This message is the “aroma of Christ” we share with the world.

Two thousand years ago, on that dreadful Friday as Jesus hung dying on cross, no one saw that Sunday was coming. No one perceived that on Sunday good would emerge as Jesus rose from the grave. What was only seen as a dreadful day in history is now Good Friday, and we know that Sunday is coming! We know we have reason to celebrate!

No matter where we are, no matter what we are going through, we have a great opportunity to be the aroma of Christ to the world. Christ died and rose again to redeem a lost and broken world. This is the message of ultimate triumph. This is the redeeming message of hope in the midst of all that is devastating and painful. This is the fragrant message Christians spread. It is a message that believes and speaks that good can and will emerge from the devastation and tragedy before us, just as it did 2000 years ago. We may not see it now, but Sunday is coming!

In God’s divine love,

Peggy

Hope Against Hope

I was reading Romans 4 the other day and verse 18 jumped off the page at me. Ever have one of those moments? You know the Bible story or passage well – have read and studied it numerous times – and suddenly you see something you’ve never seen before. In telling of Abraham’s faith regarding the promise of Isaac, Paul writes in Romans 4:18, “In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, ‘So shall your offspring be.’” Did you see the magnificent statement “In hope he believed against hope”?

Another way to say this is that even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway. Look at the story in context of Romans 4:18-21:

18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

We can glean a lot of encouragement from this passage because all of us encounter seemingly hopeless situations. When Abraham considered his own body, which was as good as dead, and likewise Sarah’s womb, his faith did not waver concerning God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. Notice that Abraham brought glory to God while he was waiting for the promise to be fulfilled. In spite of what seemed like a hopeless situation, Abraham was “fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised,” and never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, while he waited his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. In hoping and waiting and believing, Abraham gave glory to God.

No matter what trials or suffering we encounter in life, no matter how hopeless our situation may appear, God’s promises are our confident hope. God is faithful. It is who He is. Whether it’s a Bible verse that God gives us as a promise of hope for our situation, or a Scripture promise pertaining to our spiritual welfare, God will bring it to fulfillment. No promise of His has ever failed and cannot fail because of His honor and character. “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (Num. 23:19). Whether God’s promises are related to time or eternity, to our physical life or spiritual well-being, God will bring them to completion. Because of all God is in Himself, He cannot go back on His Word or promises.

No matter what you are going through, my friend, keep hoping and keep believing. Though the waiting is difficult, and often times very painful, don’t give up! Lift up your heart to God, cry out to Him, and remain fully convinced that He is able to do what He has promised. Regardless of what is happening around you and what your circumstances tell you, hope against hope in our promise-keeping God!

In God’s divine love,

Peggy

 

Because He Lives

Fear. Uncertainty. Panic. These are just a few of the many human reactions to the Coronavirus that is affecting our world in unprecedented ways. Add to this our own personal trials that are affecting our ability to cope with life, and we wonder how we can possibly survive an international health crisis amidst our daily struggle to endure what is already overwhelming us. Bad news, indeed.

But there is good news for us in the midst of it all. Jesus is alive and well in the world! And because He is, we do not need to fear these uncertain times. The Christian hymn Because He Lives perfectly sums up the “good news” we need to hear and know. Ponder the first two stanzas:

God sent His son, they called Him Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon;
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow;
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living, just because He lives!

What good news – no, great news – this is! Because Jesus lives, and because “He holds the future,” we do not fret and worry as those who have no hope. The world is full of people who live without the understanding and personal experience of salvation in Jesus. But for those of us who know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we do not fear as the world fears. We do not panic in uncertain times but find our peace in Jesus.

Because the grave has no hold on Jesus and He has conquered death, His resurrection life is proof that He lives. And because He lives, we “can face tomorrow.” Because He lives, “life is worth the living” no matter what personal suffering or world crisis we encounter. Yes, the future is always uncertain, but our certainty is in Jesus who “holds the future.” Our hope and peace are not in circumstances but in Jesus, and we can trust the future to Him!

In God’s divine love,

Peggy

Burdened Beyond Our Strength

Undoubtedly, we have all been there. Life’s circumstances have completely consumed us and we feel like we just can’t take anymore. Overwhelmed with our trials and the drudgery of day-to-day living, wondering when we will ever find relief, we despair of life itself. We never imagined that life would get so difficult or that our life’s circumstances would be so unbearable, and we question how we can possibly go on.

If you have ever been in this place, then you know from personal experience that the statement “God never gives us more than we can handle” simply isn’t true. This widely touted cliche is rooted in a misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 10:13, which states that “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.” This verse is speaking of temptations, not trials. In context of chapter 10, you plainly see that God is speaking of the Israelites “with [whom] most of them God was not pleased” (v. 5), and gives us the warning “that we might not desire evil as they did” (v. 6). Moreover, in speaking of the consequences for their sins, God says that “these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction…Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability” (vv. 11-13).

God has never said that He wouldn’t give us more than we can handle. And He has never said that the trials we endure will be bearable. In fact, Scripture even attests to the fact that we can be burdened beyond our strength. Look at what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:8: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.” So if God does allow us to endure more than we can handle, then how are we to handle life’s unbearable circumstances? This is the big question!

The answer is found in 2 Corinthians 1:9, the verse following Paul’s confession that he and his fellow workers were burdened beyond their strength. Ponder closely what Paul says: “Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” Do you see it? Paul says that as a result of being unable to endure, to the point of feeling that he “had received the sentence of death,” he no longer relied on himself but learned to rely on God.

This is exactly what we are called to do in our unbearable circumstances. No matter what we are going through, we can rely on God and trust in His strength and power to sustain us. Speaking of the thorn in his flesh, look at what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10:

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

When faced with the inevitable difficulties of life, Paul learned to rely on God’s grace and strength and power to sustain and strengthen him. We can learn to do the same. With God as our all-sufficient source and supply of strength and power, we can endure all things. No matter what we are going through, the key to overcoming our burdensome circumstances is not trying to be strong in ourselves, but letting God’s power and strength fill and empower us.

No matter what trials are overwhelming you, “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ep. 6:10). God is bigger and stronger and mightier than anything you are facing, and you can trust Him to comfort, strengthen, and sustain you each and every day!

In God’s divine love,

Peggy

Steadfast Love

Lately, God has been drawing me in His Word to the theme of His steadfast love. Numerous times in my Bible readings I have come upon the phrase “the steadfast love of the LORD” or “your steadfast love” or some other Bible passage referencing God’s steadfast love. The theme of God’s steadfast love is prominent throughout Scripture. In fact, the phrase “steadfast love” is found 196 times in the Old Testament, 127 times in Psalms alone. Obviously, this means something!

The biblical definition of steadfast means “resolutely firm, unwavering, not movable.” Tied to God’s love, it carries the meaning that God’s love is firm and unbending. A perfect love that is inflexible and enduring. In a world rife with suffering, grasping the depth of God’s steadfast love can help us cope with the pain and hurt we encounter. This is especially true when the suffering we experience is a result of broken relationships. Human love with its many imperfections notoriously wounds and hurts and destroys, and we are left wondering how love could get so out of hand and cause such pain and anguish.

Then there is our own sin and brokenness that drives us away from God, causing us to question if God could still love us despite what we’ve done or who we’ve become. Thankfully, Scripture assures of that no matter the suffering we have experienced, or the pain and hurt we have caused God by our own sin, God’s love is never-ending. Here are some examples:

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lam. 3:21-23)

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. (Ps. 36:5-7)

I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul. (Ps. 31:7)

But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. 17 O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love. (Ps. 59:16-17)

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Ps. 103:1-12)

Unlike human love that wounds and hurts and destroys, God’s love is abiding, inflexible, resolute, relentless, dedicated, and enduring. Whereas human love lacks loyalty, mercy, forgiveness, and honesty, God’s steadfast love is loyal, merciful, forgiving, honest, and above all, permanent. So never think for a moment that anything could ever separate you from God’s love, for He has never ceased to love us! Even when we have wandered off, God will do whatever is necessary to bring us back to Him!

In God’s divine love,

Peggy

“Have You Not Heard?”

When we encounter times of suffering, it is easy to get discouraged as we wait upon God in the midst of trials. As time moves on, and we face trials that overwhelm our ability to cope, we grow confused because we never thought these trials were supposed to get so difficult. Consequently, we tend to think that God has abandoned us or that we just don’t have what it takes to endure, so we grow weary and lose heart.

Israel was no exception to these same feelings. The prophet Isaiah gives voice to their complaints that they feel disregarded by God and that He doesn’t see their troubles. In speaking of Judah’s imminent captivity, the prophet Isaiah relates their complaints in Isaiah 40:27: “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God’?”

Look at how God responds to Israel in verses 28-31:

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 to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they 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.

God reminds Israel that He made everything and is sovereign over all, and has them recall what He says in verses 21 through 28:

21 Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; 23 who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. 24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. 25 To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing.

Verse 21 begins with four rhetorical questions to remind the people of what they already knew: “Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?” God proceeds in verses 22 through 28 to remind Israel how for generations they had these truths revealed to them, and now God calls them to take these truths to heart once again.

First, God is the Lord of creation and ruler over all. He is sovereign over kings and rulers. Their reign is temporary, but His reign is eternal and constant. Second, His nature is incomparable. There is no one like Him. He is the “Holy One.” Third, the heavens are God’s handiwork. By His power the starry hosts were created and remain in order. In fact, He knows them all by name and not one of them is missing.

With all this in mind, Israel can now renew their strength through hope. They who had felt God was not concerned about their plight and disregarded them have renewed hope because God is Creator and Sustainer of all things, and He will never forsake what He has made. Unlike humans, God does not grow tired. He is sovereign and all-powerful, and nothing is too much for Him to handle. Moreover, God is incomprehensible. His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor His ways our ways. He tells us: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9). Even though we don’t know or understand God’s ways, they are always right and perfect. As the incomparable and sovereign Lord of the universe, we can never understand God, but He knows all about us. So God challenges Israel, and therefore us, with why we would suggest that our ways are hidden from Him or that He doesn’t care.

This leads us to verse 29, where God promises strength to those who feel weak and powerless and exhausted with suffering. Even though we faint and become weary and fall exhausted, God gives us a profound message of hope and comfort: those who wait on Him shall change. Their strength will be renewed. They will rise up and soar on wings likes eagles. They will run and not be tired. They will walk and not be faint.

Hear what the prophet Isaiah means by the word “wait”:

By waiting (Hebrew qawah88, pronounced kah-vah) the prophet means a longing for the fulfillment of the promise by faith, but it is a longing or looking for that is characterized by confident expectation. Waiting requires patience; but it is never indifferent. There is always a restlessness, an eagerness, a looking for something, an inner vigil. To hope for something is active; it is never out of mind. English Bibles alternate between translating with “hope” or “wait.” The two ideas are in the word. Here we would say the term describes the essence of confident, expectant faith. In the immediate context it describes the attitude and actions of those Israelites who believed the promises of the LORD and were ready to step out when God began to move. They believed the release was coming; they waited for it. They knew it would happen; they just did not know exactly when.

https://bible.org/seriespage/10-message-comfort-god-s-people-isaiah-401-31

As Christians, we have this same confident hope and expectation regardless of the plight in which we find ourselves. When the circumstances in our lives become overwhelming and we feel like our world is falling apart, God assures us that He will not allow us to be destroyed or defeated by these difficult times. As we wait upon God we do not need to be discouraged or overwhelmed. Instead, as we heed God’s words “Have you not known? Have you not heard?”, recalling who He is and all He has done, we find our confidence and trust strengthened and renewed. So we confidently live out our faith in light of this hope, assured we will find our strength renewed for life’s trials and sufferings along the way.

In God’s divine love,

Peggy

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