In Isaiah 40:31 we read that wonderful promise, ‘Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength; they will mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.’ In the passage those who do this ‘waiting on the Lord’ are contrasted with youths and young men. Those youths and young men – reputed to have the most strength and resilience of any one – may faint and fall by comparison. It is a wonderful promise to ‘those who are tired and weary or feeling weak’, and many of us could often put up our hands and say “That’s me!”, “include me in that!”, “I’d like some of that too”.
The difficulty can be however, that we read promises like these, and even claim them, and then wander off, and carry on living life, and we wonder why the promise hasn’t really been fulfilled. The reason for this is often down to this activity called ‘waiting’. As a child waiting always felt like a waste of time, after all who wants to wait until after Christmas lunch to have their presents! Waiting in our current ‘instant’ society has always had a bit of a bad press, especially with fast food, and next day deliveries now the norm. For many of us ‘waiting’ feels like a non-productive time, endured before something good happens.
In some situations, waiting can actually be quite a wearisome thing in itself. How many of us spend our ‘waiting times’ fretting because it feels like time is passing and absolutely nothing seems to be happening. Or we can wait and ‘worry’ that the thing that we are wanting to happen, just won’t. Either way, far from renewing our strength we can find waiting energy sapping, but Isaiah is of course talking of a different kind of waiting, and it is that beautiful phrase ‘upon the Lord’ that makes all the difference.
In Psalm 123:2 we read , ‘as the eyes of a servant look unto the hand of their masters , and as the hand of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until He have mercy upon us.’ AV. The Psalmist is in trouble, he is expecting deliverance from the Lord, and he shows by using that word ‘until’ that, although he doesn’t know the exact time frame, he knows that God will come through for him.
This is a kind of waiting that is expectant, hopeful, and in fact the NIV translates the verse in Isaiah as, ‘those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength’. This kind of waiting is about where our focus of attention is. Is it on the clock or the calendar, on time passing? or on the Lord who made heaven and earth and who loves us so much. ‘We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our trust in you.’ Psalm 33:20-22.
So here we find our connection to thanksgiving. When I am feeling tired and weary, it can just be physical, but I think that the kind of weariness that Isaiah speaks of here is probably connected to a feeling of discouragement too. In the previous verses to the promise we are looking at, Isaiah asks the people of Israel, ‘Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? He then reminds them of the fact that not only is their God the creator and sustainer of the earth but that He also has unfathomable understanding of them, verse 28.
So if some, or even all, of our weariness is because we are feeling discouraged or even abandoned by God, let us turn our hearts in thanksgiving again for who He is and what He does. Waiting involves a passage of time, and our thanksgiving will slow us down and help us to take enough time to look at our God afresh, enough time to take in His love, His encouragements, His promises, and feed on these things rather than our circumstances or situation, remembering that we don’t ‘live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’. Matthew 4:4. Let your thanksgiving today give you the time to have a good feed and renew your strength with His love.