How familiar and comforting are these words from the prophet Isaiah!
I have been quoting this verse all week, praying it over myself as I battled sickness that overtook my son and me. Weary and decidedly un-energetic, I knew I needed God’s strength!
Then a dear friend called me and said he had been quoting that same verse this week, as he was in severe pain and could not walk. It is a wonderful promise to those who love the Lord. The Bible promises renewal, not just in our minds, but in our physical bodies!
When I woke up this morning, however, it was as though the Holy Spirit were urging me to dig a little deeper. “Those words in Isaiah are not reactionary,” he said, “but preemptive.” Isaiah does not envision only a battle-weary tribe of godly people, clawing their way desperately back into God’s renewing presence! (Although historically, that is what happened.)
No, in fact, Isaiah’s words also envision a victorious people, whose “waiting upon the Lord” connects them daily to a God who is “Everlasting;” who never grows faint or weary Himself (verse 28).
In other words, we are not just the weary who hope to run again; we are runners with the potential to not grow weary in the first place!
Why? Because we pray.
Strength In the Waiting
We may begin in weakness, but our time with God enables us to persevere. Our waiting on God precedes our running and precludes our weariness. All our strength is predicated on waiting!
Waiting on God may seem like a slow start to your day when you see those java-loaded, caffeine-energized sprinters heading out the gate, leaving you in the dust of their wake! But the quiet peace and renewed energy you gain from those first moments alone with God will cause you to keep running when the golden hours come, overtaking those who have long since dropped in exhaustion by the wayside.
Not only that - but if you do fall - when you are wearied beyond belief and think God has forgotten you, Isaiah reminds: “His understanding is unsearchable.” (40:28) Compassion, not condemnation, is extended to you like a firm and sturdy hand, lifting you back to your feet.
No matter how you look at these verses - whether preemptive or redemptive - they carry tremendous hope. Either God will sustain us as we run because we waited on Him and received our sustaining strategy; or He will come to us and assist us when we fall. There is no situation in which you could find yourself where God cannot renew or restore you.
For this reason, Isaiah says, “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel: “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my just claim is passed over by my God? Do you not know? (Hebrew yada, to know intimately) Have you not heard? He is your EVERLASTING God!”
In case you missed the irony of this verse, Jacob and Israel are the same person! (Genesis 32:27-28). Jacob represents our fallen nature, the soul that cries out in desperation to God. Israel, however, is the victor who emerges after that struggle, the one who learns to run his race successfully in the strength of the Lord. No matter how you feel today, or whom you most identify with, God is still your God!
Wait a Minute!
God has said that this is the year of “recompense.” (Isaiah 35:4) Do you believe He is renewing and restoring all things to you, both physically and emotionally? Do you rely on Him to help you walk - even run - through situations that made you stumble before? Are you believing Him for the prophetic strategies and insights that come from having divine perspective - the eyes of an eagle soaring above? Most importantly, is your life and are all your movements founded on the directions you receive as you wait upon the Lord?
For Isaiah, prayer precedes our daily walks and runs for a reason. Waiting on the Lord is preemptive. It protects us from the burnout and weariness that others experience in their eagerness to run ahead. Prayer is also redemptive when we run ahead of Him ourselves. We could ask for no greater God than this, whose compassion never fails and whose strength towards us is undying!
Teach us, Lord, to wait!
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.