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”?
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.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
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.
(Isaiah 40:27-31 ESV)
I read a piece of really stunning microfiction yesterday (unfortunately I don’t have the link. [Update 1/25/16: found the link]) about a guy who was abducted by strangers, locked in a room with a telephone, and instructed to never use the phone or else bad things would happen to him. He was fed crackers and water each day and after several weeks he was, understandably, starving and going out of his mind.
He finally used the phone. Without getting into the bizarre details, the result was really bad, but irony was that if he had just waited five more hours he would have been released.
It was a good story and I was reminded of it when reading Isaiah 40 tonight. Waiting is hard; the end of Isaiah 40 speaks to this. The voice in verse 27 expresses what most of us have sometimes felt, a feeling of abandonment by God. I’m waiting here but I’m not sure if he even remembers me.
The Lord through Isaiah reminds us of something important. God is not limited in any way to come to our rescue. He is not tired. He doesn’t get tired. He knows and understands everything. He seeks to give power to those who are losing their might.
This is all inextricably tied to waiting on him. What does that mean? What does it mean to wait on the Lord? And secondly, why do we have to wait?
I think this is important to understand; this idea of waiting. We are beings who have never known anything but the flow of time, and so we’re locked into temporal thinking and our spiritual sight, our perception of the bigger picture, is extremely limited in most of us. So we find ourselves at times in desperate need of rescue but with no rescuer in sight.
God does this to us, I think, on purpose, for reasons higher than I can imagine but I think partly to teach us some of the basics of life in his Kingdom, including the basic 101s of patience and faith. So we will find ourselves wanting desperately for something to happen, but forced to wait. What do we do while we wait? I don’t think this passage implies that we do nothing. We need to wait for him because there are numerous (more than we know, I suspect) things in life that we truly are not going to be able to take care of on our own, so the ultimate fix for our problem is truly out of our hands. But when you’re waiting for the Lord to come to your rescue, that’s a perfect time to, for example, cry in the wilderness and make straight paths in your life for him.
He is coming. The people Isaiah was writing to still had centuries to wait for their Savior, but he was on his way, in God’s inscrutable, perfect timing.
Wait on him. He will renew your strength. He will rescue. You will soar, you will run, you won’t get tired.
He’s on his way!