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Combating Spiritual Amnesia

Updated: Jun 11, 2022

When trials come, we often forget about God, but the prophet Isaiah reminds us that the greatness of God is unsearchable, and waiting on Him is what gives us the strength to make it through.



Isaiah 40:27-31


O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?

O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?

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 depth 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 wait on 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.


This Old Testament passage addresses a problem they had back then. That. We. Still. Have. Today.

I’ve given it a name: it’s called Spiritual Amnesia.


Amnesia is a partial or total loss of memory, where you forget things or parts of things.

Spiritual amnesia occurs when you forget about who God is. You forget that you can rely on him, and you turn to yourself.

Like a good doctor, Isaiah has diagnosed the problem, and he is addressing it in this passage of encouragement.


The people of Israel are in a difficult trial. They are in captivity in another country. The Babylonians destroyed their nation, their holy city, Jerusalem, and the temple. They put the survivors in chains and drove them to Babylon.

And so the people forgot. They were not seeing God in this situation, and they forgot who God is.

O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?

O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?


Have you never heard?

Have you never understood?


And if they could answer now, they might say something like, “Well yeah, we have heard who God is. We understand his greatness, but I guess, in the midst of this trial, we kind of forgot.”


And yes, there’s something about trials and troubles that make us forget who God is.


We start to think that he’s not there. That he doesn’t see or understand what we are going through.

And then, when we think we are alone, we start to try to handle everything ourselves.


But the truth is, he’s right there, and he knows all about it.


The problem is that we get spiritual amnesia.


When spiritual amnesia hits, we need to remember two foundational truths Isaiah told the Israelites and us to remember in the midst of trials.


What is the first truth Isaiah reminds us of?



God is Great


Verse 28 says, 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.


This verse describes four attributes of God, but they could all be summarized into one idea: God is great.

He’s great in 4 ways:


First, He’s everlasting.

Now, what is significant about that?


What’s significant is that he lasts forever. He never ends.


It’s almost weird to say such an obvious statement, but it means that God is never going to die.

He’s never going to be out of the picture.


You might be thinking, “Well, I knew that.” The problem is, the Israelites forgot.


They were thinking and acting as though God did not last forever. They thought he was out of the picture. They thought they were on their own.


And how often do we do that?


So, the first way God is great is that he is everlasting.

Second, He’s the Creator of the ends of the earth.

We know that, too, right? We learned that every year in Sunday school growing up. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”


Why do we need to be reminded of this?

Because it reminds us of the power of God.

If God can create the universe, can he handle your situation?


If God can speak and things come into existence—even human beings with souls—do you think He cannot see or understand your problem?


Of course, he can.


So, the second way God is great is that he is the creator of the ends of the earth.


Third, He does not faint or grow weary.

This is another one of those truths that’s obvious to us. He’s God! Of course, he doesn’t faint or grow weary.


But when spiritual amnesia sets in, we forget.


Sometimes we struggle through trials for so long that we grow and faint and weary. Some trials last for years.

We tire. We think, “I can’t hold on any longer. I can’t handle this!”

It’s beyond my ability.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? God does not faint or grow weary.


You may be tired, but he’s not.


He is not confined by time or space. He is not hindered by the weaknesses of living in a human body. God is Spirit. He is eternal. He does not change.

Therefore, he does not grow weary. He doesn’t need sustenance or recuperation. He is the giver of sustenance. He is life itself.


He does not tire physically, nor does he tire mentally.


When you pray in your trials, he hears you afresh. You may be tired of your prayers for deliverance, but he’s not.

He does not faint or grow weary. When Jesus walked the earth, Luke 18:1 says, “He told…a parable to the effect that [we] ought always to pray and not lose heart.”


In your trial, you may be tired, but God is great because he does not faint or grow weary.


Fourth, his understanding is unsearchable.

This is a truth that we forget a lot. And the reason is this: we often look at situations from our own understanding.


And that’s easy to do because we naturally view life through our own perspective and evaluate it according to our own understanding.

And that’s because we’re us. It’s a lot easier to see something from my own understanding than from someone else’s.

But this truth reminds us to stop looking at our trial from our own perspective.

We must step out of our perspective and see it from God’s point of view. We need to ask, “How does God view this situation?”


I’ve heard this analogy somewhere, and it fits so well.


Life is like the making of a beautiful tapestry. On the backside is a tangled mess of threads and knots all over the place, and it makes no sense.


But on the other side, there's a beautiful tapestry.

While we’re on earth, we are on the backside of the tapestry. We can only see the tangled mess of knots and threads.


Trials don’t make much sense. In fact, they’re confusing.


But when we get to the other side, we’ll see what God was up to. We’ll finally understand.

And we’ll see the beautiful tapestry he’s making. Consider what Paul said.


I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. - Romans 8:18


So, when you’re in a trial, remember that God’s perspective is much different from yours. He sees things you don't, and he understands things we can’t even begin to understand.

And the weight of glory in heaven will outweigh the trials of today.


So, the fourth reason God is great is that his understanding is unsearchable.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? God is great in four ways: He’s the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.


Now, what is the second foundational truth Isaiah reminds us of?


Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord.


Isaiah 40:29 says He gives power to the faint,

and to him who has no might he increases strength.


Even youths shall faint and be weary,

and young men shall fall exhausted;

but they who wait on 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.

What is one of the first things we do in trials when spiritual amnesia sets in?


We turn away from God and turn to ourselves and our own devices to get ourselves out of trouble.


And when we rely on ourselves, Isaiah points out, we faint and grow weary. We eventually fall in exhaustion.


Because in our own strength, we can do nothing.

But if we wait on the Lord, he says, “Our strength will be renewed.”


I think of Peter when he walked on water.


Jesus told him to get out of the boat and meet him in the middle of the sea.


And so he gets out and starts walking on water!

Peter is doing well because he's looking to Jesus, but as soon as he turns away and looks at all the wind and waves around him, he begins to sink.

But he cries out, “Lord, save me!” and Jesus is right there. He pulls him out of the water and says, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”


There is a powerful lesson in this incident.

The lesson is this: keep your eyes on Jesus.

In the storms of life. In the moments when you step out on the water. Those moments when you're required to do the impossible. In those moments, keep your eyes on Jesus.


And you will find strength. You will find strength, and this is in contrast to those who look to themselves.

Verse 30 says, Even youths shall faint and be weary,

and young men shall fall exhausted;


Young men and youth are known for their strength. I watch my kids run around and around and around all day, and I wonder where do they get all that energy?


It’s because they are young, but with as much strength and energy as they have, they still get tired. And after a long day of hard playing, they fall exhausted.

And if they get tired, how much more tired do adults get?

Yes,Even youths shall faint and be weary,

and young men shall fall exhausted;

But, they who wait on 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.


Therefore, when you are going through a trial, the temptation will be to forget about God and look to yourself, but what you must do is turn to Jesus.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord. Look to Him and wait on him.


But this raises a question.


What exactly does it mean to wait on the Lord?


You might be thinking, “I want to wait on the Lord in my trial, but what does that look like?”


We’ve touched on the answer to this question already. Waiting on the Lord involves looking to him in our trials.


But it’s not simply looking at him.


Waiting on the Lord is looking to the Lord with two driving heart attitudes.


The first attitude of waiting on the Lord is trust.


You decide, “I will trust God no matter what. I know he is good. I know he does good. I believe in his promise that since I’m his child, he will work all things together for my good. I know there is more to this situation than I can perceive or understand. So, even though it doesn’t make sense to me, I will trust him. I know he’s got this.”


That’s the first attitude. Trust.


The second attitude is contentment. Contentment to wait on the Lord as long as it takes.

With this attitude, you decide, “I know God is taking care of me through this, and though I wish this trial could be done right now, I will be content with waiting as long as it takes. If I have to live with this difficulty for a year or five years, that’s ok. If I am called to carry this burden my whole life, then God knows I can handle it with his help.


I will say with Paul, ‘I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. [and the secret is this] I can do all things through him who strengthens me.


Contentment is not pretending like a trial is enjoyable. It is trusting God in the trial and looking to him to strengthen you through it.

So, waiting on the Lord involves two driving heart attitudes:


One, trust that God will work it all out for my good. And two, contentment to wait on the Lord as long as it takes.

Paul teaches us a lot about trials. After seeing the unimaginable glories of heaven, he was given a thorn in the flesh to keep him from becoming too elated.

And though he prayed that God would take away this trial, the Lord answered him this way:

2 Corinthians 12:8 says, 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. 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.


Paul chose to trust the Lord, so much so that he boasted in his weakness, and he decided to be content.


When I am weak, then I am strong.

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord.


Let’s wait upon the Lord.


Summary


First of all, the problem Isaiah addresses in this passage is spiritual amnesia.


Spiritual amnesia occurs when we forget the truth about who God is, we forget to rely on him, and we turn back to our default mode of relying on ourselves.


This was a big problem in the Old Testament, and it’s still a problem today.


We forget about who God is, so Isaiah reminds us of two foundational truths to remember in the midst of trials.

The first truth we need to remember is that God is great, and he’s great in four ways.


He’s everlasting. He does not quit on us.

He’s the creator of the universe. He can handle our situation.


He does not faint or grow weary. Even if you get tired, he will not.


And his understanding is unsearchable. You may not understand your trial, but he does, and he has a wise and good plan.


When we turn to God in our trials, we are not turning to a frail human like ourselves. We turn to the great and awesome God who created and loves us.


The second truth we need to remember is that strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord.

In the midst of your trial, you will be tempted to forget about God and turn to yourself, but your only hope is to turn to him and trust him, and choose to be content.

And when you do this, you will find strength.


Isaiah 40:28 says,

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.

He gives power to the faint,

and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary,

and young men shall fall exhausted;


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.


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