Isaiah 40:31 “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new (or renewed) strength…”
As I meditated on this idea, I had a hard time putting words to what waiting on the Lord really meant, in a practical sense. It’s a verse we have all heard time and time again and yet, the meaning of it escaped me. I knew it was going to be a hard passage to wrap my heart around as I’ve been waiting on the Lord for some things for a very long time. What does waiting for the Lord really look like? I think we all get the general concept of waiting, but in our culture, waiting is a negative experience. I would rather drive a few miles out of the way than to sit in traffic. If I have to make an appointment, I get the first one of the day because I can’t stand to waste time sitting in someone’s office.
I have been asking the Lord what it means to wait on Him or wait for Him. I read backwards a bit and in verse 27 it says this, “Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and the justice due me escapes the notice of my God?” Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired, His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength.”
Waiting on the Lord relates to those times when we feel like nothing is happening. When we have been waiting a long time already for something, or someone, do we feel like Israel did, that our concern is hidden from the Lord? If we have been waiting and waiting and waiting, it is very natural to feel as if the person you are waiting for is not listening, or, worse yet, they hear you but just do not care to help you. That’s a picture of abandonment or rejection. The process of waiting can sap your energy! God is not saying that waiting is due to being far off, or, that He is tired of our request and has become weary of us. The promises here are for anyone who lacks might or strength. It takes strength to wait in this world and God will actually increase power and strength to us “as we wait.” This reminds me of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12; when we are weak then we are strong because we have exchanged our miniscule strength for the Almighty power of the living God. When I have that sort of mindset then waiting or expecting something from the Lord is not a hardship.
Another thought running through my mind is from the definition of “to wait for.” The first definition is “to bind together (perhaps by twisting)” which is interesting. This speaks of closeness, intimacy and a tight relationship! It echoes John 15:4 “Abide in Me, and I in you.” The True Vine wants to be close with us. Have you ever seen a grape vine? It is very twisted around whatever support it is growing on. It is bound together very tightly. And if we are pursuing closeness with the Lord, or, rather, receiving the pursuing He is doing towards us, we can tarry in expectancy, not in drudgery, doubt or unbelief. It is this intimacy that grants strength that we did not previously have because it is His strength, not ours. I fail so often to realize God wants to give us His strength freely. He does not ask payment for it or anything in return. He desires that we sit back and restfully receive. We cannot give anything since we are empty and in need. So be at peace today as you wait for the Lord to supply the need before you. Wait knowing that God is never tired or weary. He will never leave you nor forsake you or reject you. Expect good from Him for He is good. He is always strong and He actually desires to impart His strength to you!
God is the strong one and He gives us His strength when we are weak, which is really all the time. This gain of new strength is an active experience but it is a gain for us and yet never a loss for God. He never gets depleted like we do. When an eagle gets new feathers, it gains a strength that enables it to fly. When God gives us His strength, it enables us to do things we could never do in our own puny strength, which is really not strength at all. It’s just we have illusions that we are strong, when we really are very weak. Best to admit our weakness and ask God for His strength instead! But it is something God “gives” not requires. He alone knows how frail we are in this life. He loves to give. May God grant us grace to be good receivers!