In my house, we have a saying: “we have good days, and we have bad days.” And this particular day, was one of those days – a very bad, no good, terrible day.
It was the second week I was guiding the ladies at church through the beautiful and intimidating book of Isaiah – a book revealing how God’s people can find both salvation and enablement to serve God as King. My memories of that day are crystal clear because instead of joyfully preparing for our impending lesson on God’s Ideal Servant, I sat sobbing on the stairs with my two-year-old twins each clinging to my shoulders. We were all crying in unison.
And as our unrehearsed screeches reached a fevered pitch, I wondered how I got where I was. How did I go from an eager seminary student who spent her free time absorbing the quiet nature of books to an exhausted mother who spent the majority of her day haranguing two Tasmanian devils? How did I go from looking like Banana Republic to a booger buffet? How did I go from a positive upbeat gal to a negative, critical spirit?
How did this happen? I let my circumstances get the better of me. And I came to that realization only after I snapped and went berserk. But in that same instant, I was confronted with an equally unsettling question. How am I going to teach the ladies in my study about the enablement of God in the lives of His people when I can’t even make it through one morning without mom-zilla rearing her ugly ponytail?
If there was anyone who needed enablement, it was me! Enablement to find the right words and tone to biblically instruct my children. Enablement to respond to life’s circumstances with grace and beauty.
So I shed tears that morning partly because I knew I was completely inadequate to teach the ladies at church about living as spirit-enabled servants, and partly because I was frustrated at my life circumstances. And while I certainly cannot control my circumstances, I am called to respond to those circumstances with a servant’s heart.
[pullquote style=”left” quote=”dark”]”While I certainly cannot control my circumstances, I am called to respond to those circumstances with a servant’s heart.”[/pullquote]
When I sat down later that afternoon to prepare for our upcoming lesson on Isaiah 40, I could still feel the sting of guilt over my poor reflection of Christ to my children earlier in the day. And then I came upon Is. 40:28-31, and verse 29 roared through me: “He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength.”
“That’s me!” I thought, because today I demonstrated both weakness and a lack of might – responding to my children from the flesh and not the spirit.
But then I read it again to see how it applied further, and this is what I noticed: “He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength.” According to Isaiah, an exchange happens – God exchanges our weakness for His power and our lack of might for His strength.
“Oh yeah, that’s me!” I confirmed. “I need that divine exchange in my life. I needed it, like, yesterday.”
But I couldn’t help but wonder how that exchange took place. And in typical prophetic form, I discovered the great prophet provided a clue in the following verse. Verse 31 states: “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength.”
So, the key to the exchange of supernatural strength for lack of might is rooted in our response to God’s enablement. But what should our response be? Isaiah clearly explains: To “wait on the Lord.”
“Huh? I’m just supposed to sit back and wait?”
“Okay Lord, I’m ready to stop screaming at my kids now. You can empower me now…anytime you want.”
“Anytime, Lord…tap…tap…tap…anytime at all.”
Well, that didn’t sound very spiritual to me. So, I researched that little word “wait” – to see what it really meant. To “wait” is the Hebrew word Qavah which means “to wait, look for, hope, expect.”
[pullquote style=”right” quote=”dark”]”In its deepest sense, to wait on the Lord is a call to trust in Him.”[/pullquote]
In its deepest sense, to wait on the Lord is a call to trust in Him. God’s people are called to trust in God by looking to Him alone for their strength. Throughout his book, Isaiah consistently chides God’s people for their inadequate responses to God and to life – namely their lack of trust. And here in Is. 40:31, the great prophet is calling the people to trust God once again.
But that morning, the morning when mom-zilla got the better of me, I discovered I still didn’t fully understand. I wondered how exactly “trusting” in God garnered me strength. This is where I turned to a trusted scholar for help in interpreting this passage. And what I found was a goldmine of theological instruction.
First, Smith says, we must admit we need God’s strength. For me, admitting my weaknesses wasn’t the problem. Sobbing on the stairs due to my lack of grace and self-control told me that. I just hadn’t admitted it early enough.
Second, Smith says, we must “tap into God’s strength by finding hope in the Lord.” According to Smith, Isaiah grounds the exchange of strength for weakness in hope in the Lord.
And third, Smith says, “a prerequisite for this transformational change is the placement of all expectations or hope in the Lord.” Smith calls this “active dependence” that “patiently awaits” God’s hand and God’s timing in life’s circumstances. And this is the kicker: “this trust in God will replace any false leaning on a person’s own strength.”
Trust, says Smith, “enables people to walk the path that God has chosen for their lives (whether it be pleasant or unpleasant) without growing weary or wanting to quit.” 
So, what does that have to do with a worn-out, burned-out mother who loves her kids but also lacks might to consistently show grace to them? How does ‘trust’ enable us to walk that path God has chosen for us – the path of motherhood?
Trust certainly isn’t sitting on the stairs, looking upward for strength to fall from the heavens. Neither is it the opposite extreme – putting together an action plan hoping God will bless our own attempts at strength-gathering.
I think trust begins long before the melt-downs, the mini-psychotic breaks, and the mommy mayhem wrought by household chaos. This is where I made my (almost) fatal mistake – I waited until life’s circumstances had completely defeated my feeble grip on motherhood before I followed Isaiah’s admonition to trust. I waited until my circumstances got the better of me before I admitted my inadequacies and my weaknesses. I waited until I was fully broken and embarrassed before I admitted I needed God’s strength.
Motherhood, through the lens of Isaiah 40:31, is about relying on God’s strength all the time – both when we’re coasting through life’s circumstances and when we’re plunging into the depths of life’s twists and turns.
[pullquote style=”left” quote=”dark”]“Motherhood, through the lens of Isaiah 40:31, is about relying on God’s strength all the time – both when we’re coasting through life’s circumstances and when we’re plunging into the depths of life’s twists and turns.”[/pullquote]
God gives us his strength so that, as Isaiah says in verse 31: “They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” That doesn’t mean our path will be free of obstacles, but it does mean that God will enable us to walk in the path He’s given us – even if that path seems more like a roller coaster ride at times.
So, this means as a mother I must be prepared. Personally, that point of preparation comes long before the house awakens for the day, and I’m able to spend some time alone and quiet before the Lord. I realize that for other mothers, their time of preparation to wait and trust might occur throughout the day or at the day’s end. But regardless of the time or location, preparing your heart to trust and wait on the Lord is a fundamental prerequisite for successful mothering. Because it is only when we trust and wait on the Lord, that we’ll find the enablement to partake of those promises of strength and renewal.
So, what does Isaiah say a God-enabled mom looks like?
First, a God-enabled mom soars like an eagle.
When our strength is renewed, Isaiah tells us we “shall mount up with wings like eagles.” To behold an eagle taking flight is a majestic sight indeed. Whether an eagle is ascending into the clouds or swooping down to catch its prey, you will not see weakness, timidity, or laziness in its flight. That’s because eagles are powerful creatures. They are confident and intentional in executing the daily tasks they were created to fulfill.
Dear mom, you were created to soar with the grace and beauty of the eagle. I know that’s hard to believe when 99 percent of the time you’re covered in boogers and goo. But trusting in God means trusting that God will enable you to fulfill those daily tasks He appointed for before the foundations of the world (Eph. 2:10). And like the majestic eagle, God promises to help you accomplish those good works toward your children and your family with grace, confidence, and intentionality.
Second, a God-enabled mom runs on an eternal power supply.
When our strength is renewed, Isaiah tells we “shall run and not be weary,” and we “shall walk and not faint.” This doesn’t mean that you won’t need to take a nap, Mom. Nor does it mean those days of collapsing on the couch at the day’s end are long gone. Isaiah is not promising you paranormal physical stamina in this verse.
So what is Isaiah promising us? Look back at how Isaiah begins this section. He says in verse 28: “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.”
The One who is granting you untiring wings to soar amid your circumstances will not tire or grow weary in His task as well. That means that the One who is supplying your strength will never fail you; the only requirement to taking flight is tapping into his eternal power supply.
So, while I’m not asking you to reduce your daily caffeine intake (let’s not be silly, here), I am challenging you to make a consistent choice to plug into the only power supply that is both trustworthy and eternal. That means to be a God-enabled mom you must trust God on a moment-by-moment basis. How do you do that?
Let’s apply some of Gary Smith’s suggestions:
- When you’re changing the fifth diaper of the day, admit you need help in the attitude department by asking God to conform your mind to the humble mind of Christ (Phil 2:5-11).
- When you’re preparing the third snack of the day, trust God that there is significance in performing the little tasks in life by praising God for his provision in your life (Phil. 2:14).
- When you’re breaking up the tenth fight of the day, surrender up your expectations of a nice, quiet afternoon by pleading with God to infuse with you grace so you can demonstrate peacemaking instead of mere punishment (James 3:18).
Isaiah is clear: God-enabled moms know how to tap into God’s eternal supply of strength with each task of the day. As a result, the prophet promises that God-enabled moms “shall walk and not faint.”
Mom, God promises to enable you to walk the path of motherhood. And although that path can be strenuous, riddled with obstacles, and full of twists and turns, the God-enabled mother will be sustained on her journey. She will soar with the wings of eagles.
I don’t even think Starbucks can do that.
 Gary Smith, New American Commentary: Isaiah. (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2009).