Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hacksaw Ridge and The God Who Does Not Grow Weary (1)


The previews end.  The lights dim and the moviegoers settle a bit deeper into their seats.  Hacksaw Ridge begins.

A voice speaks the words of Isaiah 40:28-41

28 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.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    and strengthens the powerless.
30 Even youths will faint and be weary,
    and the young will fall exhausted;
31 but those 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.
—NRSV

These are soaring words.  But what do they mean?  And how do these words both give meaning to and find their meaning within Hacksaw Ridge?

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The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not grow faint or weary,

He does not grow faint or weary?  What does this mean?  Is this a mere statement of power independent of whatever ends are wrought by this power?  A straight forward (and what many may take to be obvious) affirmation that the God who creates, sustains, and transcends all things is more powerful than human beings and not subject to human limitations?  Or can words such as these only be given proper meaning in terms of God’s character?  In other words, He does not grow faint or weary in doing what?

His understanding is unsearchable.

The same sorts of questions as above.  Is this mere poetic language that the good theologian should convert into the propositional language of divine omniscience?  As in, God knows more facts than human beings?  Actually, what is “understanding”?  In what ways does this understanding reveal itself?  How does this “unsearchable understanding” relate to not growing faint or weary?  How does understanding relate to love and goodness?  Does it?  All the time?  Some of the time?

He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.

The same sort of questions once again.  What is this power that he gives to the faint?  Power to do what?  What is this strength that he gives?  Strength to do what?

Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles.

Are we just talking about physical weariness here?  And a renewal of strength for the purpose of whatever the one who is strengthened desires - a sort of force that the worshipper can tap into and control?  Is this an if/then statement - a math equation?  We shall pray before our battle, and the strength to destroy our flesh and blood enemy in our great fury shall be the reward of “waiting for the Lord”?  Who is my enemy?  What does it mean to “wait for the Lord”?  Wait for the Lord to do what?  Yet again, renew their strength to do what?  For the Lord, of course, can only renew “strength” in a way that is consistent with his own “strength”.

They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint.

Run and not be weary while doing what?  Walk and not be faint in order to do what?

continued

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