“He [God] gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” [Isaiah 40:29-31]
Let me put Isaiah into context. The prophet Isaiah was writing during a time, when people felt as if their strength was sapped and they had no hope. They were worried. The news wasn’t good. The dreadful Assyrians were breathing down their necks. As they thought about all the stuff that was happening around them, they were weighed down and overwhelmed by the seriousness of their situation.
The same is true today for many as we are in the midst of the fourth wave of COVID-19. Along with the regular stresses of life we have these restrictions on our church attendance, wearing masks inside all public places, carrying a restrictions exemptions card and so on. The big worry is catching the virus, or having a loved one catch it.
You see what was happening here? People today can be much like the people in Isaiah’s time. The Israelites had lost sight of the power and the love of God. They saw all their problems and stresses and began to believe that God couldn’t help them or had abandoned them. They forgot that the Creator of everything, the everlasting Lord, whose love for His people means He will never grow tired of helping them. They lost sight of the fact that in spite of the pain they are enduring, His love for them had not dwindled and He would provide a way that is brighter and happier. They were wrong to question His involvement in the events that were affecting their lives.
The Lord’s knowledge is far beyond ours; His understanding of our human condition is unquestionable. He knows when we are weak and weary, worn down by stress and worry, exhausted by the events that surround us and so He gives this now familiar assurance: “Those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Isaiah says that with the strength and power that only God can give, the boldness that comes from trusting the Lord, the confidence in the face of trouble that comes from faith in Christ, we will rise on wings like the mighty wings of an eagle and soar high above and beyond all that distresses us.
I know I’m not telling you anything new. You’ve read things like this before and it’s easy to walk away feeling very cozy and comfortable in the love of God.
And that’s nice.
But before we get to that point, let’s face up to the fact, too often, we are more like the people to whom Isaiah was speaking – overcome with stresses and anxieties, problems and headaches. The cause of these things might be different, but they are just as real.
We suffer unnecessarily because, like the people of Isaiah’s time, we forget that God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what is happening in our lives; what is happening in our minds; what stresses we are going through. He says to us today as He did thousands of years ago, “Those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength.”
To the weary He says, “They will walk and not be faint.”
Before we can be blessed like this, we need to listen carefully to Isaiah’s questions to the stressed and anxious people of God from just before the quote from Isaiah 41. He asks, “Don’t you know who God is? Don’t you know what you’ve been told repeatedly about God and His love for you?”
After all your learning as a Christian, don’t you know? Haven’t you been listening that God never grows tired of hearing your prayers and never stops giving strength to the weary?
It’s like Isaiah wants us to say, “OK! OK! I admit it! Being a stress bucket is all my fault because I haven’t let go and let God be the God He says He is and remember the promises He has made to us. I’ve tried to carry the load all by myself and I can’t. I should have listened to God’s promises more closely and taken them more seriously.
“OK God, I get the message, now help me to trust in You for help and renewed strength. I want to soar like an eagle – strong, high and free – coping with my stresses with Your strength.”
Maybe we all need to repent, turn around, accept the fact our ways of dealing with life’s troubles are faulty and let God take a hold of us, reshape us and empower us to confront what is ahead.
This may not be an easy path as we give up the pride we have in our own abilities to handle things ourselves, admit that we are not as capable as we think we are, own up to the fact that we need someone greater than ourselves to help us.
God is good at gathering up our frayed ends and binding them together with His own strength and reshaping and rebuilding us into His people with Christ at our centre and his love shaping our lives.