Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:…
I. THE DREARY CERTAINTY OF WEARINESS AND DECAY.
1. The words point to the plain fact that all created and physical life, by the very law of its being, in the act of living tends to death; and by the very operation of its strength tends to exhaustion. There are three stages in every creature's life — that of growth, that of equilibrium, that of decay. You are in the first. If you live you will come to the second and the third.
2. The text points also to another fact, that, long before your natural life shall have begun to tend towards decay, hard work and occasional sorrows and responsibilities and burdens of all sorts will very often make you wearied and ready to faint. In your early days you dream of life as a kind of enchanted garden. Ah! long before you have traversed the length of one of its walks you will often have been tired of the whole thing, and weary of what is laid upon you.
3. My text points to another fact, as certain as gravitation, that the faintness and weariness and decay of the bodily strength will be accompanied with a parallel change in your feelings. We are drawn onward by hopes, and when we get them fulfilled we find that they are disappointing. Do you not think that, if that is so, it would be as well to face it? Do you not think that a wise man would take account of all the elements in forecasting his life, and would shape his conduct accordingly?
II. THE BLESSED OPPOSITE POSSIBILITY OF INEXHAUSTIBLE AND IMMORTAL STRENGTH. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength," etc. The life of nature tends inevitably downward, but there may be another life within the life of nature which shall have the opposite motion, and tend as certainly upwards. Look on this possibility a little more closely.
1. Note, how to get at it. "They that wait upon the Lord" is Old Testament dialect for what in New Testament phraseology is meant by "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." For the motion expressed here by "waiting" is that of expectant dependence, and the New Testament "faith" is the very same in its attitude of expectant dependence. The condition of the inflow of this unwearied life into our poor, fainting humanity is simply the trust in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of our souls. True, the revelation has advanced, the contents of that which we grasp are more developed. No matter where we stand on the course of life, there may come into our hearts a Divine Indweller, who laughs at weariness and knows nothing of decay.
2. What is this strength that we thus get, if we will, by faith? It is the true entrance into our souls of a Divine life. We who have Christ in our hearts by faith shall share, in some fashion and degree, in His wondrous prerogative of unwearied strength. So here is the promise. God will give Himself to you, and in the very heart of your decaying nature will plant the seed of an immortal being which shall, like His own, shake off fatigue from the limbs, and never tend to dissolution. The life of nature dies by living; the life of grace, which may belong to us all, lives by living, and lives evermore thereby. The oldest angels are the youngest. The longer men live in fellowship with Christ the stronger do they grow. And though our lives, whether we be Christians or no, are necessarily subject to the common laws of mortality, we may carry all that is worth preserving of the earliest stages into the latest; and when grey hairs are upon us, and we are living next door to our graves, we may still have the enthusiasm, the energy, and above all, the boundless hopefulness that made the gladness and the spring of our long-buried youth. "They shall still bring forth fruit in old age."
3. The manner in which this immortal strength is exercised. There is strength to soar. Old men generally shed their wings, and can only manage to crawl. They have done with romance. Enthusiasms are dead. For the most part they are content, unless they have got Christ in their hearts, to keep along the low levels, and their soaring days are done. But if you and I have Jesus Christ for the life of our spirits, as certainly as fire sends its shooting tongues upwards, so certainly shall we rise above the sorrows and sins and cares of this "dim spot which men call earth," and find ampler field for buoyant motion high up in communion with God. Strength to soar means the gracious power of bringing all heaven into our grasp, and setting our affections on things above. Life on earth were too wretched unless it were possible to "mount up with wings as eagles." Again, you may have strength to run — that is to say, there is power waiting for you for all the great crises of your lives which call for special, though it may be brief, exertion. Such crises will come to each of you, in sorrow, work, difficulty, hard conflicts. And there is only one way to be ready for such times as these, and that is to live waiting on the Lord, near Christ, with Him in your hearts, and then nothing will come that will be too big for you. Strength to walk may be yours, i.e., patient power for persistent pursuit of weary, monotonous duty.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
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