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Friday, September 19, 2014

The strength to go on

Isaiah prophesied that Jesus Christ would be "despised and rejected - a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief." (Isaiah 53:3) He went on to say that "He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed." (verse 5) He was able to endure all of those things because of his absolute faith in God's plan to redeem all of us through his suffering and death. That faith in God gave him the strength to complete the work that God had given him to do.

It is truly inspiring to observe the storms and sufferings that some people have endured by looking to God. In fact, one is tempted to characterize this phenomenon as miraculous. It is, however, not a rare phenomenon. There have been numerous examples of people down through the centuries of human history who have endured loss and sorrow in this same fashion. My own grandmother weathered rheumatoid arthritis (along with numerous other health problems) by looking to God on a daily basis for the strength to face her burdens. She believed that God had given her a task to perform - raising me and my brother. And, despite numerous pronouncements by her doctors that she would not be able to complete her work, she persisted and finished it.

Hence, I have always thought it appropriate that her favorite passage from the Bible was the very one that addresses this issue of "the strength to go on." Isaiah wrote: "Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:28-31)

In short, my grandmother understood what many people had understood before her - including her Lord and Savior. She knew that those who rely on God will find the strength to go on - even in the face of overwhelming catastrophe and defeat.

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