When the Colonial Pipeline shut down this past week because of a cyber-attack, panic buying followed. With the possibility of running out of gas both at the local station and in your own vehicle, people quickly lined up at the pumps in an effort to not end up on empty with no place to purchase gas and fill up. Lines grew long and tempers grew short as people sought to fill up and not end up on empty.
An empty gas tank is one thing but feeling empty on the inside of oneself is an entirely different struggle. Experiences and situations have a way at times of draining us of life, leaving us feeling helpless, depleted, and defeated. During these times we lack the energy and strength to face the day with confidence. We may retreat into hiding, attempt to cover up our true selves, or give up all together. These can be frightening times as we know we are running on fumes. One more setback could leave us depleted for good.
One passage of scripture that has brought me comfort in such times in my own life is found in the book of the Prophet Isaiah. The people of Israel had been defeated by the nation of Babylon and many of its people had been literally uprooted from the land of Israel and carried off into exile in the nation of Babylon itself. Hope was in short supply as they felt lost, abandoned, and without any kind of future. They were living on empty. In Isaiah 40: 28-31, the prophet speaks these words of comfort to the people: “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 strengthens the powerless. 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, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
Isaiah reminds the people that their God is an endless source of life, strength, and hope. Even though the strongest and youngest of humanity will at times become faint and weary, God however, will not. God is an everlasting God and there is no limited supply of his power and presence. When we find ourselves running on empty and turn to God we have the assurance that God will be there for us. God will never run short of mercy, love, compassion, grace, strength, hope, and life. These attributes of God are eternal and everlasting.
As a result, we know that God is able to refill us over and over again in an abundant supply of Godself. Isaiah tells us that those who wait for the Lord will be renewed in their strength and they will mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they will walk and not be faint. To wait means to trust in hope. We can trust that our current situation of emptiness will not be the final verdict in our lives. As we place our faith and hope in God, God will restore us. We will soar like eagles on the winds of God’s Spirit to new heights.
Sometimes I feel as though I am living on empty and running on fumes. It is at these points that I need to be reminded that God’s power and presence will not leave me stranded by the roadside, but that God will fill me once again as I trust and hope in God. This is God’s promise to all us when we feel as though we are living on empty.