The Lord 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, wait, and hope 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)
The Scripture above reminds me of the documentary, “Eagles: Masters of the Skies.” The film shows these majestic birds in flight, flapping their mighty wings, soaring higher and higher, until they disappear from sight. These amazing creatures point us back to the Lord, their brilliant Creator, who is our Creator, Lord, and Father too.
Last year was tough for many of you. You experienced sorrow and sadness, griefs and losses with health, economic, and relational issues. Your resilience was severely stretched. And 2021 is off to a rocky start. Isaiah calls us away from self-dependence to dependence on God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).
Isaiah Points Ahead to Christ
Isaiah is sometimes called “The Fifth Gospel,” after Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, because it foretells Jesus’ future ministry. Isaiah’s prophecy was written about 700 BC and tells of the covenant (agreement) between members of the Holy Trinity for Christ to come as Savior. This covenant was made before God created the heavens and the earth. Isaiah foretells that Jesus will come as God’s Suffering Servant to redeem and ransom people from every nation, tribe, people, and language. Christ does this by His obedient life, His atoning death on the cross, and His physical resurrection in history. Isaiah was living in dangerous times. But God promises comfort to His people through Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Swapping our Weakness for God’s Empowering
Isaiah calls us to ask the Lord to exchange our limited resources for His limitless strength. God possesses all greatness, power, glory, majesty, and splendor. Everything in heaven and earth is His. God is the King of the universe and Head over all.1 Things impossible for us are easy for the Lord to accomplish.2 Jesus taught that our Father in Heaven gives the Holy Spirit and all His good gifts to those who ask Him.3 Our unworthiness and inability are not disqualifications. We can plead, “Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.”4
The earlier part of Isaiah chapter 40 described God as Spirit, infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection. He is all-sufficient, eternal, unchangeable, beyond our full understanding, present everywhere at once. The Lord is almighty; He knows everything; He is completely wise, righteous, and just. He is holy, holy, holy. And if we stopped there, God might seem too remote and unavailable to us. But now in verses 29-31, the Lord bends down to assure us He knows us and our predicaments. The Lord is also compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. He maintains love to thousands, and forgives wickedness, rebellion and sin.5 One of the metrical Psalms says:
Although Jehovah is most high, on lowly ones, He bends His eye
But those that proud and haughty are He knows only from afar.6
Sometimes Soaring, Running, or Walking
Isaiah says in v. 31 that sometimes the Lord helps us to soar like eagles. One pastor was on the coast of Maine during very severe weather. A fierce storm was whipping up the sea outside his window. Trees were bending over. But a sea gull floated in mid-air, unfazed by the violent storm.7 Sometimes God helps those who trust Him to rise above our troubles.
Sometimes the Lord helps us run in the path of His commands, for He broadens our understanding and enlarges our heart.8 Sometimes He delivers us from trouble and keeps our feet from stumbling, so that we may walk before God in the light of life.9 Scripture says the Lord has no greater joy than to hear that His children are walking in the truth, following Jesus in His paths of righteousness.10
Putting One Foot in Front of the Other
Often God enables us simply to take another step forward in trusting and following Jesus in tough times, until His deliverance comes. King David said: “I follow close to you; your right hand holds on to me.” God empowers us so that we can persevere.
Here’s an example from the Bible. Mary, the mother of Christ, was a woman of great faith in a very awkward position. She was pregnant by God the Spirit, but even Joseph didn’t understand right away. The neighbors never understood. But Mary trusted the Lord during those nine months of pregnancy. She simply put one foot in front of the other, taking one more step in waiting on God and obeying Him until Jesus the Messiah was born. Then Mary kept on trusting God for 33 years more, since she knew that Christ was born to die. Jesus bore our sins in His body on Calvary’s cross, to save Mary and all of us who believe on Christ. Are we willing to wait on the Lord like that?
Waiting on God means doing what waiters in restaurants do: Serving. God gives us strength to keep on serving Him and other people, mostly in ordinary, non-glamorous ways. We do our best to follow Him and leave the results in His able hands. But God doesn’t always make life easy for us. Asking for His help is the key to our enduring. And Jesus’ assistance is ours for the asking.
Father, strengthen us when we are weary and increase our power when we are weak. Help us not to stumble, fall, and faint. Help us to trust, wait, and hope in you. Renew our strength, so we can soar like eagles, in the settings where you place us, with the people you send us. Help us to run and not grow weary. Help us to walk after Christ without being exhausted. Restore our souls. Refresh, renew, revive, and recharge us by your mighty Holy Spirit. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.11
To be continued. you can read Soar, Run, and Walk with Christ (Part 2)
Notes (various translations): 1 2 Chron 29:11. 2 Matthew 19:26. 3 Matt 7:11; Luke 11:13. 4 Psalm 22:19. 5 Exodus 34:6-7. 6 Psalm 138B, Book of Psalms for Singing. 7 Wells of Salvation by Charles and Norma Ellis, page 137. 8 Psalm 119:32. 9 Psalm 56:13, 91:9-13; Jude 24. 10 3 John 4; Psalm 23:3. 11 Prayer based on Isaiah 40:29-31 with help from H. B. London.