When we encounter times of suffering, it is easy to get discouraged as we wait upon God in the midst of trials. As time moves on, and we face trials that overwhelm our ability to cope, we grow confused because we never thought these trials were supposed to get so difficult. Consequently, we tend to think that God has abandoned us or that we just don’t have what it takes to endure, so we grow weary and lose heart.
Israel was no exception to these same feelings. The prophet Isaiah gives voice to their complaints that they feel disregarded by God and that He doesn’t see their troubles. In speaking of Judah’s imminent captivity, the prophet Isaiah relates their complaints in Isaiah 40:27: “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’?”
Look at how God responds to Israel in verses 28-31:
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.
God reminds Israel that He made everything and is sovereign over all, and has them recall what He says in verses 21 through 28:
21 Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; 23 who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. 24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. 25 To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing.
Verse 21 begins with four rhetorical questions to remind the people of what they already knew: “Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?” God proceeds in verses 22 through 28 to remind Israel how for generations they had these truths revealed to them, and now God calls them to take these truths to heart once again.
First, God is the Lord of creation and ruler over all. He is sovereign over kings and rulers. Their reign is temporary, but His reign is eternal and constant. Second, His nature is incomparable. There is no one like Him. He is the “Holy One.” Third, the heavens are God’s handiwork. By His power the starry hosts were created and remain in order. In fact, He knows them all by name and not one of them is missing.
With all this in mind, Israel can now renew their strength through hope. They who had felt God was not concerned about their plight and disregarded them have renewed hope because God is Creator and Sustainer of all things, and He will never forsake what He has made. Unlike humans, God does not grow tired. He is sovereign and all-powerful, and nothing is too much for Him to handle. Moreover, God is incomprehensible. His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor His ways our ways. He tells us: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9). Even though we don’t know or understand God’s ways, they are always right and perfect. As the incomparable and sovereign Lord of the universe, we can never understand God, but He knows all about us. So God challenges Israel, and therefore us, with why we would suggest that our ways are hidden from Him or that He doesn’t care.
This leads us to verse 29, where God promises strength to those who feel weak and powerless and exhausted with suffering. Even though we faint and become weary and fall exhausted, God gives us a profound message of hope and comfort: those who wait on Him shall change. Their strength will be renewed. They will rise up and soar on wings likes eagles. They will run and not be tired. They will walk and not be faint.
Hear what the prophet Isaiah means by the word “wait”:
By waiting (Hebrew qawah88, pronounced kah-vah) the prophet means a longing for the fulfillment of the promise by faith, but it is a longing or looking for that is characterized by confident expectation. Waiting requires patience; but it is never indifferent. There is always a restlessness, an eagerness, a looking for something, an inner vigil. To hope for something is active; it is never out of mind. English Bibles alternate between translating with “hope” or “wait.” The two ideas are in the word. Here we would say the term describes the essence of confident, expectant faith. In the immediate context it describes the attitude and actions of those Israelites who believed the promises of the LORD and were ready to step out when God began to move. They believed the release was coming; they waited for it. They knew it would happen; they just did not know exactly when.https://bible.org/seriespage/10-message-comfort-god-s-people-isaiah-401-31
As Christians, we have this same confident hope and expectation regardless of the plight in which we find ourselves. When the circumstances in our lives become overwhelming and we feel like our world is falling apart, God assures us that He will not allow us to be destroyed or defeated by these difficult times. As we wait upon God we do not need to be discouraged or overwhelmed. Instead, as we heed God’s words “Have you not known? Have you not heard?”, recalling who He is and all He has done, we find our confidence and trust strengthened and renewed. So we confidently live out our faith in light of this hope, assured we will find our strength renewed for life’s trials and sufferings along the way.
In God’s divine love,
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