One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Isaiah 40:27-31: 27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? 28 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. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they 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.
I believe that we all wrestle with the kinds of questions we see in verse 27. We all have times in our lives where we wonder if God sees what we are going through or if he does see us we wonder why he isn’t stepping in to fix things.
Verse 28 reminds us that God is the Creator and that he is all-powerful and all-knowing. We know that to be true, but in the midst of tough times in our lives it is hard to not have questions about why God does not seem to be saving us from the trouble we are facing.
Verses 29-30 go on to remind us that God is in the business of giving strength to the weary and that it is normal for us to be weary at times. We are all going to face times where our strength is waning physically, spiritually and emotionally.
And all of that leads us to verse 31, which is an often used verse that gives us the image of God swooping in like an eagle to carry us away from the trouble we are facing. At least that is what I used to think it was talking about. However, after closer examination it seems like the point of this passage is not God saving me from the tough things in life, but rather renewing my strength and helping me to grow in the midst of my struggles.
Notice that verse 31 does not say that we will be carried away on eagle’s wings, but rather that we will mount up with wings like eagles. It seems to indicate more along the lines of the wings being developed in us. That also fits with the focus on the Lord renewing our strength so that we can continue to walk and to run even though we are weary.
I think one of the most important words in this passage is the word “Wait.” I believe that waiting implies an expectation that someone is going to show up. Like when I am waiting for a friend, I am waiting because I am expecting that friend to show up. If I didn’t expect him to show up, I would not be waiting for him. Waiting on the Lord implies that we are expecting him to show up. But I think often in the midst of my troubles I don’t really have the expectation that God is going to show up. Or if I do expect him to show up my expectation is that he is going to deliver me from the tough stuff that I am going through. But that is not what I see in these verses.
This passage is saying that in the midst of tough times I should wait in expectation for the Lord to show up and renew my strength and to help me continue to walk through what I am facing and in the midst of it even to grow in such a way that I will be better able to handle all that I am going to face in this life.