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.Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)
“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.”
RENEWING OUR STRENGTH
This week, we are wrapping up our study of Isaiah 40 which has focused our minds on finding comfort in God. Although we may struggle with various forms of fatigue during these winter months and weariness because of the ongoing pandemic, it is good for us to remember the context of this familiar chapter.
Those who were living in or around Jerusalem were experiencing one of the greatest periods of suffering since their ancestors has been enslaved in Egypt. Around 605BC, Babylonian forces laid siege to God’s people and enslaved many youth and royalty (Dan. 1:3-4). Years later, greater attacks came. After months of war and famine, King Nebuchadnezzar II burned the temple and destroyed Jerusalem. Some of the poorest in the land were left to fend for themselves (Jer. 52:16) and struggled to survive (Lam. 2:12). Whereas, the rest of God’s people were forced to relocate in the foreign city of Babylon. Isaiah 40 would have been read to people who were facing this kind of weariness.
Over the next seventy years of captivity, we really don’t know much about how the survivors in Judea fared. Did they find comfort in the Lord? Did they memorize Isaiah 40:31 like Christians do today? Was their strength renewed? Unfortunately, we don’t know.
However, we do know of a few people who became strong in the Lord during these trying days. One of those men was Daniel.
Daniel was probably a teenager when he was taken from his home and forced to work and study in the king’s place (Daniel 1:4-7). He would have witnessed first-hand the growing strength of the Babylonian empire and heard stories of how his homeland was being plundered. Although he was promoted into various forms of leadership while serving with four different kings, it appears as though Daniel never returned home. His entire adulthood was spent living in a pagan county serving pagan leaders.
Yet, throughout his life, Daniel remained fiercely committed to the Lord. Even as an elderly man, he was more willing to be thrown into a den of lions than renounce his allegiance to God!
How did he keep from conforming to the surrounding culture? How did he run the race of faith with such integrity and perseverance?
Perhaps he knew how to renew his strength by waiting upon the Lord.
Daniel knelt before the Lord three times a day (Dan. 6:10). It is reasonable to assume that this spiritual habit was formed because he desired God, wanted to exalt God and longed be renewed by God each day.
Spiritual disciplines, like waiting before the Lord in prayer, are not just for Biblical heroes. They are also for devoted followers of Jesus. Now, we may not experience the same social pressures that Daniel did, but without seeking God, it can be so easy to conform to our post-Christian culture and its values. We can easily grow weary of show grace to others, of make disciples and living holy lives.
Would you consider taking a moment to re-evaluate how you are ‘waiting upon the Lord?’ Perhaps we do need our strength renewed more than we like to admit.
Lord, teach us to desire you more than this world and to look to You for the strength that only You can provide. Through Jesus, Amen!