Everybody reaches a point where they need to rest. Maybe it is after a long day of hard work or maybe after a particularly difficult encounter with a friend or family member. Often our tiredness is simply due to the day-to-day events that can lead to stress and burnout if we don’t take some time to step back and refresh ourselves in quietness in the presence of God.
Recently I was diagnosed with a chronic illness that has led me to rethink the trajectory of my professional career and question the carefully crafted plans I had made for both myself and my family. In a very physical sense my body has begun to tell me that I can no longer do some things I have always taken for granted. I need to rest. In dealing with these unexpected changes I have been drawn back to a verse that has always brought me comfort.
Isaiah 40:31 says, “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.” Throughout my teen and young adult years this was a verse that I turned to for comfort and direction and, now as I face an unexpected challenge, I find myself once again reaching for the peace and comfort that this verse offers.
I’m not sure why or how this became one of my favourite verses, but it has always given me a sense of peace. It reminds me of the perfect peace that can be found in the centre of God’s will. It is an acknowledgement of my weakness and how it is made perfect in His strength. As I grapple with some new realities in my life I grab hold of the fact that if I wait on the Lord He will renew my strength. I am not strong right now. In fact, I am physically weaker than I have ever been in my whole life. Really, not one of us is strong on our own. We all have something that saps our strength and makes us want to cry out to God and revel in His strength and comfort.
I love the specificity of this verse. If we wait for the Lord, we will be rewarded. Our strength will be renewed. We will soar on wings as eagles. We will be able to run and not be weary, to walk without fainting. Right now I can’t run or even walk very well so I’m holding on to this promise. When we seek God’s will and follow His direction, we are given untold freedom to soar as eagles. Of course, I may not literally soar, or even run or walk very well, but in surrendering to God’s will and purpose my frailty will serve His purposes.
We are not told what waiting for the Lord looks like. It certainly encompasses listening for God’s direction in our lives and trusting that His way is best. When we trust God’s plan for our lives and follow the path He has chosen for us we find peace and, when we are at peace, we can rest knowing that God is in control.
Throughout Isaiah chapter 40 we read of God’s awe-inspiring majesty and strength, but we also read of His tender care for His people. Isaiah 40:11 says, “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” Can you picture anything more tender than this? Our God, the same God that created the universe and everything in it, tenderly cradles His most vulnerable and precious children in His bosom, close to His heart. There are many days when this is exactly where I yearn to be. Don’t we all feel vulnerable and in need of protection sometimes? Don’t we all yearn to be held safely sometimes? This is exactly what God does for us and, when He feels we are ready, we can soar like eagles in the freedom of His perfect plan.
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