Scripture: Isaiah 40:21-31

Sermon: A Recovering Loser by Pastor Todd Buurstra

Hopefully the Patriot’s locker room will be dejected around 10 PM because they’re “L”osers.  Can you imagine how dejected Pastor Mark was when his Lions made the play-offs for the first time in his adult life, and they end up being “L?”  When you gloat about the Giants today, have some compassion for the poor guy.  Beyond football, at school kids deride other kids with the “L” sign.  At work you feel like an “L” when you lose your job or promotion.  At home an “L” in marriage tears you apart.  Our nation has been struggling since the housing bubble burst, while we hear how China is winning and we’re a “L.”  How does God renew after a loss?

Isaiah 40 was written when God’s people felt like substantial “L”osers.  God’s chosen had experienced the unthinkable: mighty, evil Babylon had swooped down and destroyed their cities, burned Jerusalem and deported them into exile.  Scripture records  three deportations: 597, 586 and 582 B.C.  No other nation survived this “L”oss.  Why?

The normal thought pattern among ancients was that each locale had a god.  So if Bridge-water bested Branchburg in war, Bridgewater’s god was elevated and Branchburg’s god was vanquished.  Kind of like playoff team losers firing their coach.  Judah was so tempted.

In many ways Americans feel like “L”osers.    As a country our employment is in the pits and our debt is in the stratosphere.  As families, marriage has hit a new low among young adults, and yet children are brought into insecure unions.  So marriage is in the pits and depression is in the stratosphere.  “L”osing takes away our illusion of control.  But then is anyone in control??

Enter Isaiah 40:31: They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles. These most beautiful words that “L”osers ever heard were written in exile; i.e., in loss! How can that be? God is not a fired coach, but a creator-king:

v. 22: God sits above the circle of the earth, and we are grasshoppers!

v. 23: The Creator-King brings princes to naught, and makes rulers of the earth as nothing!

v. 26: So we grasshoppers can lift up our eyes to see the stars, and our Creator above!

The faith that their god was not a local, vanquished god, but the Sovereign of the Universe lifted their heads, and made them believe in renewal after loss.  How you view God effects resiliency!

Just as Isaiah preached this to Judah before freedom was in sight, we often find ourselves in God’s waiting room between “L”osing and renewing.  Past losing, but not yet to renewal.  That’s why v. 31 says…  So in God’s waiting room there are two things we can do:

#1—correct our image of God to Creator-King; and #2—Repeat the faith: God will renew us…

Oftentimes I toss in bed, disappointed with some result, but fall asleep repeating, God will renew

On the strength of a correct and repeated view of God, Israel is the only nation that survived this exile with their identity in tack.  God wants to renew us, too.  The story is told of slaves who could fly.  On St. Johns Island, just off the S.C. coast, slaves were toiling in the hot sun.  The story goes that one mother who was picking cotton with one hand, and stoking the brow of her 7 year old with the other became overwhelmed and fell over.  The boy panicked when he saw the slave driver coming whip in hand.  But just then the old man they called Preacher got there first and whispered in her ear, Cooleebah! Cooleebah! And miraculously she stood up like a West African Queen, grabbed her son’s hand and began to fly.  Soon the old man was whispering Cooleebah! in other ears, and they began to fly.  The slave drivers were horrified.  What was happening?  The weak were mounting up with wings like eagles?  Why?  The word cooleebah is West African for “God.”  And God renews “L”osers to fly like an eagle.