When we lost our three-year-old son, Austin, to strep throat, our lives were shattered, seemingly beyond repair. I became a brand-new believer just days after Austin died, but I was still skeptical about religion and the Bible. In the dark pit of grief, I needed assurances that God was in control, that He is loving and good, and that God’s plan was taking place.
The book of Isaiah stripped away my skepticism when prophecy after prophecy proved true. Isaiah’s words made me awestruck by a God who was rejected, and mocked time and time again, and yet would humble Himself to save me from my own self-centeredness. I found a God who would never, ever break His covenant. I discovered a God who yearns to be at the center of my life. A God who would restore humankind, not because we deserve it, but because He said He would.
For example, consider Isaiah 40, where God comforts with His power. In the beginning of chapter 40, there is a prophecy that was included in all four gospels:
The voice of one calling out, “Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3)
This verse predicted John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus through baptism and the forgiveness of sins. God described the good news through Isaiah:
Go up on a high mountain, Zion, messenger of good news, Raise your voice forcefully, Jerusalem, messenger of good news; Raise it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” Behold, the Lord God will come with might, With His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His compensation is with Him, And His reward before Him. Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in the fold of His robe; He will gently lead the nursing ewes. (Isaiah 40:9-11)
Think about the conflicting language: He will come with might, His ruling arm bringing reward (presumably to the Jewish people), but He will also be a shepherd, gentle with the baby lambs and taking care of their mamas!
Who has the power to describe two lives more than 600 years before the two boy cousins would be born? Only God – and He doesn’t mind reminding us! In the next verses, God challenged the people to ask themselves who created the earth, informed the Creator with knowledge, or taught Him understanding. God reminds His people of His ultimate power:
Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust. Even Lebanon is not enough to burn, Nor its animals enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before Him, They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless. (Isaiah 40:12-17)
Before you picture a harsh God who might consider you “as nothing before Him,” consider that Isaiah was speaking to God’s chosen people, who walked through the sea on dry land, fleeing from 400 years of Egyptian slavery. When Isaiah spoke these words, those same people were considering fleeing to Egypt to save themselves from the Assyrian army (who had recently destroyed their sister nation of Israel).
God was reminding the people that He alone is God. He alone decides what the nations will and will not do. Like a speck of dust, He could wipe any nation off this planet. Yet, His very own people were scrambling around to human sources to ease their fears and seek protection – from Egypt for crying out loud!
I think God was mad. At the same time, the people also had fallen prey to their culture. Here’s what God had to say about that:
To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him? As for the idol, a craftsman casts it, A goldsmith plates it with gold, And a silversmith fashions chains of silver. He who is too impoverished for such an offering Selects a tree that does not rot; He seeks out for himself a skillful craftsman To prepare an idol that will not totter.
Maybe we don’t worship a statue or piece of wood, but how much effort do we spend making our houses, cars, or bodies look perfect? How much time do we spend with our phones, computers, and televisions? None of those things hold anything of true value, just like a hand-made idol tottering on a shelf.
Nothing on earth can compare to the power of our God:
“To whom then will you compare Me That I would be his equal?” says the Holy One. 26 Raise your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who brings out their multitude by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing. (Isaiah 40:25-26)
I can’t even bake a decent cake, let alone create and sustain a universe! Our minds cannot even comprehend such power. Yet, with all this power, God keeps pursuing the humans, urging you and me to come to Him for all of our problems.
Even more astonishing is the promise that completes Isaiah 40:
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives strength to the weary, And to the one who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:28-31)
Our all-powerful God lends His strength to us – to those who wait on Him.
With His strength, we can handle whatever comes our way.
Kim Erickson began following Christ after the death of her three-year-old son. Jesus and the Bible saved Kim from the pit of grieving the loss of a child. Kim began a writing and teaching ministry to help other women find outrageous joy from a deeper relationship with God. You can learn more at www.KimAErickson.com.
Kim is the author of His Last Words: What Jesus Taught and Prayed in His Final Hours, Surviving Sorrow: A Mother’s Guide to Living with Loss, and Predicting Jesus: A Six-Week Study of the Messianic Prophecies of Isaiah. Kim is an attorney and kindergarten teacher. She lives in Florida with her husband, Devin, and son, Ethan.