Links Daily Devotional

When You Need Strength

…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31, NIV)

A year ago this week, playing golf was the farthest thing from my mind. I was completing five weeks of radiation treatments for a tumor in my neck and chest, and my body’s reserves were utterly sapped. My weight was down 17 pounds and I could focus on work for maybe a half hour at a time. Driving made me nauseous and both eating and sleeping were uncomfortable.

Healing will come. That is the promise of the passage. But it will not come by fixing our eyes on the healing.Illnesses come in a thousand manifestations. Mine was harsher than some, kinder than others. But it left me wanting my old body back, the one that was stronger and faster and able to stand the rigors of yardwork and walking 18 holes.

Our passage today is a familiar one, but I would imagine we do with it what we do with most things. We view it from our point of view.

In the case of Isaiah 40, we’re happy to picture ourselves soaring and running and walking without fatigue. Oh, to be young again! Here is the yearning of our aging selves. It’s a bit ironic, really, because the prophet’s lead-in to our key verse today is this: “Even youths grow tired and weary” (Isaiah 40:30). Still, we fix our eyes on the desired end and wish for the tonic of healing.

Healing will come. That is the promise of the passage. But it will not come by fixing our eyes on the healing. It will come by doggedly hoping in the healer.

Those who will receive the strength and vigor of renewed bodies and eternal life are those who hope in the Lord, “the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.” He is the one who never tires or wearies (Isaiah 40:28). No wonder he has strength to give!

We are always helped as readers of Scripture to recognize the context, not only of the passage we are reading, but of the book in which it rests and in the full landscape of God’s Word. In this case, we must understand that God’s words through Isaiah were delivered to a people facing exile—and to those who would remain back in Jerusalem, eking out meager lives, surrounded by marauders and mocking overlords. It was to these people that God said, “Put your hope in me.” This was no overnight headache and there would be no magic elixir. God’s people—those who were truly faithful—would have to endure for the long haul. But in the end, their stubborn hope would be rewarded.

The current circumstances of your own life might seem like a siege. You can’t escape the symptoms of illness, the loneliness of widowhood, the embarrassment of bankruptcy, the criticism of one you used to call beloved. Don’t lose hope, friend. God is able and he will deliver on his promises: “If we died with Christ, we will also live with him. If we endure, we will also reign with him” (2 Timothy 2:11-12).

Jeff Hopper
April 25, 2017
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