Isaiah 40:31…but they that wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
The prophet Isaiah was given a vision of a new exodus, a day when God would finally return to His people to restore and renew them, to reign over them in power and love. Isaiah even calls the return of the Lord to His people “good news” (Gospel, 40:9). At the end of this text, one in which the glory of God in His Word and by His appearing is described, we find the promise of verse 31. The promise was specifically a proclamation of comfort because the glory of the Lord was going to be revealed in His coming.
In one-way or another, we are always waiting on something.
At the end of the chapter then, Isaiah is encouraging the people: “wait for Him; He is coming. He will keep His Word…this is the word of the Lord, after all.” When He comes He will renew your strength to the point that you will no longer be faint or weary, tired or despondent, about to give up…you will fly like an eagle. That’s how light and confident you’ll be when your faith becomes sight. When He comes.
The appearance of Jesus was the appearance of good news, of “Gospel.” In Jesus all those waiting hopes, all those hands about to let go, all those bodies about to collapse, would find refuge forever. I can’t help but think of Jesus in verse 31 as He is portrayed back in verse 11. I won’t fly because I’ll have literal wings. My strength won’t be renewed because the waiting has increased the circumference of my biceps or the mass of my quads, so to speak. No. He will pick me up and carry me. The day will come when Jesus holds me close to His chest and gently leads me home.
All of life is a waiting. This is true in the subjective sense. In one-way or another, we are always waiting on something. I don’t mean that. I mean the unique life of the child of God this side of the Jordan. We live on this side of Isaiah’s prophecy. In a sense, we are waiting on the coming of the Lord like our forefathers in the Old Testament. Only now, we wait with a surer word. The Gospel. For Jesus has come. The glory of the Lord has been revealed. But more often than not, I don’t feel like I’m flying. Fulfillment has happened, not consummation. So we wait. We wait in the big sense. But that all happens during the small senses…we wait for an answer to prayer, funds to come through, food for the table, clothes for our kids…an easing of burdens, refuge for our daughter because of those bullies at school, the return of a wayward son…comfort in our depression, pain to be taken away, the raise, the promotion, the change…our spouse to stop being so cold and unreasonable, the money we need to move and get out of this place we hate…we wait and wait and wait and wait. We wait.
Why, God? Why so much unrest…where is just a basic sense of contentment?
Why do You keep making me wait?
We wait because we aren’t home. We wait because this isn’t paradise. I could get the unexpected deposit. Still wouldn’t be home. I could get the provision of a different school for my little girl. Still wouldn’t be home. I could get comfort in my depression…I could get whatever it is that genuinely keeps me up at night because I don’t have it. And I still wouldn’t be home. I would still be waiting. Why, God? Why so much unrest…where is just a basic sense of contentment? Why do You keep making me wait?
We wait because waiting increases longing and grace-fueled longing is the key to endurance. The longer I go without seeing Him, the more I want to. The more time that passes without feeling His arms literally wrap around me makes me want to feel His embrace that much more. Every. Single. Second. Of course it’s all waiting. What could ever rid me of the overall sense that it’s never quite right? He’s not here yet. Oh, I know He’s “here” in the spiritual sense. But I’m still walking. My legs get tired. My spirit gets faint. My soul hurts sometimes. I live in this present evil age even though the new age has broken in because of Him. Every pain, intense or slight…everything incomplete…everything not-quite-right…everything broken…it’s just because we aren’t done yet. Every single millimeter of discontentment is giving way to peace.
We wait because waiting increases longing and grace-fueled longing is the key to endurance.
Because He is coming. He is coming. Comfort, sons and daughters of God. Comfort. Because you and I both know that when we see that face, when it all becomes “real”… “Oh, you look like that? You’re the One that paid my ransom? It was You?” It will be worth the wait. Of that, I am quite sure.