God doesn’t want you strong and independent. He didn’t design our lives to be that way. This is the thinking of empire, not kingdom. The way God built us was that we would be helpless apart from Him, weakened without His strength and so vulnerable that we’d need His guidance. We fool ourselves when we think we can make our own way by our own strength. Just because that has been our experience, and it sometimes appears to work, doesn’t mean it’s the truth. Instead, it’s a lie. “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this,” observed Isaiah when he peered in his vision at the characteristics of this Child, this Immanuel.
God designed for us to live dependent upon Him, leaning on His strength, being weak and needy of His help. Is it any wonder that the person of God abiding in us, who the Father made to indwell us, is called the Helper? He is trying to make a point: “For all I want you to be, for all that I have promised you’d become, you need My help. I designed you to need the Helper, so take a hint: you need help, My child!”
We are designed to rely on the Lord’s zeal to do all the living we are called to do in Christ. His zeal is His strong passion, and it’s a zeal that He has pressed into the service of fulfilling the potential of our humanity. We were built to be like Jesus: to be dignitaries of a kingdom unlike the kind of governance we see in the world. The world values shows of strength and independence. The kingdom ennobles weakness and dependence on God. Empire-thinking leads to folly, but kingdom-thinking leads to wonder. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (see James 4:6), and God has designed everything in this kingdom life to leave us with one simple question: “How did God pull all this off, given our weaknesses? I wonder how He did it?”
To this Isaiah offers a simple but candid answer: “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” God wants to leave us in breathless wonder at how He does what He does. This is part of how He restores to us our childlikeness. He wants us to be wonderful people, full of wonder at Him.
God’s zeal—His strong passion, His jealous love—for you and me is stronger than the strongest of our strengths, but His zeal is the sort of strong passion that He will only show off if we become weak before Him. Remember, the verse above isn’t speaking about a mature king, but of a weak, vulnerable, helpless Child who’s been given to us. The way we grow up in God is to get weaker before God and put all our faith in Him. The more childlike we become, the more mature we become in God’s eyes.
Be childlike. Grow in vulnerability. Get comfortable with your weakness. Let your needs be known to God. Become a child, like the Christ Child He promised us all. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…”