A big scary wolf crept closer… and closer… and closer… when all of a sudden my little niece exclaimed, “I’m scared!” She always liked “playing pretend” with me; just about every day we had been playing a game where we were foxes running away and hiding from hunters or wolves. But somehow this time it was different, so I stopped to comfort her. “I don’t want him to eat me,” she said. I reminded her that these stories were pretend and that they always had a happy ending — no matter how dangerous it felt in the moment, we would always get away from the bad guy in the end. She took this to heart and thought for a minute. And then she asked a deep question, “Is it like that in real life?” Is there always a happy ending in real life?
Is there? The answer from an earthly perspective is “No.” Sometimes our prayers aren’t answered the way we hope or expect. Sometimes we don’t get the job we wanted, or our prodigal child never comes home, or our dear mother’s cancer grows. And what is worse, ultimately there is never a happy ending for this life under the sun. Ever. Our lives may get better temporarily, but for most of us, we simply experience more and more tragedy as we get older — until the great wolf comes to eat us, and its name is Death. To us living under the shadow of the wolf, we may cry out like God’s people of old and declare, “My way is hidden from Yahweh, and my right is disregarded by my God.” (Isaiah 40:27) We may feel as though God does not notice or care about us, as though there cannot possibly be an all-powerful, all-loving God. To this He replies:
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. (Isaiah 40:28 ESV)
The night is dark and full of terrors, but one day soon, the dawn will come. Winter is coming, but so is spring. It may feel like “always winter, never Christmas,” but Aslan is on the move. The wolf is on the prowl, but death has already died. The prophet Isaiah reminds us of several truths to give us strength when life beats down on us:
Our God is Yahweh (“the LORD”). In other words, He is beyond space and time. The Great He-is *is* in your “was,” and *is* in your “will be.” He is present with you in your past, present, and future. He is not far from you; He is near.
Yahweh is “the everlasting God.” The sense of “everlasting” means “all time.” God’s timlessness is unbounded, His sovereign grandeur beyond imagining. Come what may, He is with you until the end of time and beyond.
He is active in all of Creation. Isaiah describes Yahweh as “the Creator of the ends of the earth.” More literally, Isaiah said that “Yahweh IS creating the extremities of the earth.” In Isaiah’s day, this way of phrasing things was a way to give someone’s job description. In other words, God is not only beyond time for all of time, but He is constantly, perpetually actively involved in His world. And if He is directly, actively working in the “ends of the earth,” is He not involved in your life, too? He is at work among the islands of the Caribbean and in the deep trenches of the Pacific ocean floor and at the mouth of the great Amazon River and on the snowy heights of the Himalayas and in the vast wastes of the Gobi Desert — and He is at work here in the busy suburbs of DC.
He does not faint or grow weary. Since our God is immeasurably big and powerful, none of this constant, active work tires him out in the slightest. We are so weak that we spend a third of our lives helpless and asleep… but God never sleeps! He never even gets tired. He never takes a break from His ultimate plan to bring joy to all Creation. He never takes a break from loving you or from working on your life! He devotes 100% of his attention 24/7.
His understanding is unsearchable. Think of an artist; the Hebrew word for “understanding” used here can refer to the intelligent skill of an artist or craftsman. So God is actively, constantly, tirelessly weaving a beautiful design. Now, I am a student of ancient art history; I can use archaeology and other research methods to puzzle out how ancient artists and architects designed and executed the great works of antiquity. But God’s grand design — His vast intelligence and His mind-boggling masterwork — is unsearchable. No PhD can ever hope to “research” God’s mind. Like an ant trying to comprehend Shakespeare, He is quite beyond us.
In the next verses, God then offers to trade with us (like swapping clothes with someone). He offers to take our weakness and foolishness, and offers in return to give us His ultimate creation power and wisdom. Then we who are earthbound may soar like eagles.
So what of my niece’s question? Will we get a happy ending? Yes. It may not feel like it, but trust God — He has something greater prepared for us than our wildest dreams.
QUESTIONS TO ASK EACH OTHER:
- Tell me about a time when you have felt like God does not notice or care.
- What was God really doing in that situation?
- Can we ever fully understand what God is doing in any situation? Why or why not?
- Why does Isaiah say, “Have you not known? Have you not heard?” In other words, why do we need to constantly “return to the basics” and remind ourselves of the fundamental truths?
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR CHILDREN:
- Think of a time in your life when you got REALLY tired. What was that like?
- God never gets tired. How does that make you feel?
- When we face BIG problems, God reminds us that He is even BIGGER. Could we spend some time in prayer praising God for how BIG and POWERFUL He is?