"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.” Isaiah 40:30-31 (NRSV)
Imagine yourself on a long hike in the mountains. The day is hot and the path is difficult. There are moments of ease when the path evens out, but then there are moments when the climb is steep. To go back is impossible. To press on when the goal seems so far away is grinding away at your endurance. It is then that you look up and see the calm, peaceful soaring of an eagle and your spirit is renewed.
We wish that cancers would be gone. We wish that jobs and economic stability would return. We really wish COVID would go away. We have been on these roads for a long time and the ends are not yet visible. The load is heavy, and sometimes our energy begins to fail. When will all this end? When can we just get back to normal?
I wish I could say! But what I can say is that, even if it was not written in our time, Isaiah 40:30-31 was written for just such a time as this. We do get weary under the burdens of a broken world, but there is hope. “… those who wait for the Lord … .” I don’t believe these words imply an anxious waiting, a “tapping the foot” waiting, an idle waiting. I do believe that God wants us to bring our lives, with all the situations and burdens, and lay them at his feet. Then the implication is that we wait at his feet for comfort and renewal, guidance and direction. But we don’t stop there either. We then enter back into the midst of life. “… those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength … .” God sends us back into the world – with all its problems and challenges – with renewed strength and energy. The world doesn’t change while we are waiting for the Lord, we change!
It is like resting on the air currents blowing around us, utilizing those currents to get where we want. The eagle is not tossed about aimlessly. The eagle is no longer buffeted by the air currents. The eagle uses the air currents to his advantage. That is what we are called on to do. With God’s help and strength, we can use the turbulent currents to an advantage. Maybe those currents help us deepen relationships. Maybe those currents invite us deeper into faith and study. Maybe those currents open opportunities we would miss if things were “normal.”
One image I want to add to this comes from Matthew 11:28-30. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” From a conversation just this morning, I was again reminded that Jesus is in this with us. The yoke referred to is one fit for two – Jesus takes one side of the yoke, and we fit into the other.
When the road is hard and the way is long, remember that Jesus wants to carry the loads with us.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)