Waiting On the Lord
Published October 23, 2023
Fatigue is one of the most common experiences that befalls believers.
There is, of course, the physical fatigue that everyone feels through the ups and downs of life. However, there is a deeper exhaustion – an exhaustion that comes from being engaged in the spiritual battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Believers in Jesus Christ find ourselves as pilgrims passing through this world – a world that is hostile to our Lord and therefore hostile to us.
We are in a sense like the Israelites in Babylonian exile, awaiting their return to the Promised Land. We are awaiting our Lord’s glorious return when He will set everything wrong to right, and we will dwell with Him in a new creation filled with righteousness. As we wait, though, we often find ourselves with the same struggles, the same fears, and the same weariness Israel felt in exile.
In Isaiah 40, Isaiah begins the second major section of his prophecy by speaking to a future generation of Israelites who will be in Babylonian captivity. The end of Isaiah 1-39 revealed that Judah would go into exile to Babylon because of their transgressions against God’s covenant with them, the Mosaic Law. In Isaiah 40, the prophet starts to address future generations – the people who would have to endure the pain and suffering that exile brings. Isaiah 40:27-31 gives specific encouragement for weary exiles who are awaiting the fulfilment of God’s promises.
Isaiah’s exhortations in this passage are familiar to believers because we have felt this way in our spiritual walk at one time or another. Many Israelites complained that God must not know or understand their travails. They did not believe God saw their pain, and they thought the Lord was oblivious to their difficult circumstances.
Some, however, understood that God could see and knew their pain, but that God was ignoring them. This is the essence of the second complaint: these Israelites thought that God was not paying attention to them or answering their prayers. They believed that God knew what was happening to them, but they alleged that God was not interested in helping them.
When we find ourselves out of strength, feeling like God either doesn’t know or care about our circumstances, how should we respond?
Isaiah responds to the complaints of God’s people by reminding them – and future generations of readers – of the character of God, which is exactly what is needed in moments of spiritual exhaustion.
The first reminder is that God is eternal and the everlasting God. God has a bigger picture in view than we do. We are bound by time, but God knows the end from the beginning, and He is doing more than what we see in this present moment.
Second, God is omnipresent. He is everywhere – for He created the ends of the earth. This means that God is aware of our plight. He sees us, and He is with us.
Third, God is omnipotent. He is all-powerful, which means He never grows weary or succumbs to exhaustion. God can do everything He desires. Nothing makes Him tired, nothing drains His strength, and nothing lessens His power.
Fourth, God is all-wise. His understanding is inscrutable. We will never reach the bottom of the depth of His infinite wisdom. God is always, therefore, doing what is wise and best for His people’s sake. Our lack of understanding is not due to a deficiency in God’s wisdom but due to a deficiency in our wisdom.
Finally, God is infinitely generous. He gives strength to the weary, and He increases power to those who lack might. God does not hoard His omnipotent strength like a miser who is afraid he might be impoverished, but God gladly gives His strength to those who need it.
How, then, can people who are fatigued and struggling receive this divine power? As the passage unfolds, Isaiah gives us the secret to obtaining God’s divine strength: waiting on the Lord.
Human strength is insufficient for the spiritual battle. Young men grow weary and tired. Even those who are the strongest (think Olympians) – stumble badly. They might have more strength than most other people, but their strength is finite. When their strength is pushed to the limit, they will fail. If the best of the best do not have enough strength for the spiritual battle, the rest of us are in real trouble.
We will fail on our own strength if we rely on our physical power. However, we are called to wait on the Lord – this is the secret and answer for our victory.
Two things are implied by waiting on the Lord. The first is dependence. We must recognize we do not have the inner strength to fight the spiritual war. We are dependent on strength that comes from outside of us, which is wholly God’s. The person waiting on the Lord is doing so because he knows he has no strength apart from God’s.
Second, waiting on the Lord implies trust. If we are waiting on the Lord, we believe He is eternal, omnipresent, omnipotence, wise, and generous. God gives us the strength when the time is right – and when it is, in His sovereign will, needed.
When we wait on the Lord, we are strengthened with His supernatural power. This promise is illustrated by imagery of an eagle and its wings in the passage. The point of Isaiah’s message is that the strength God will give us will not be natural strength found in the human realm – but supernatural power that comes from the Almighty, transcending normal human power.
This miraculous strength from our God allows us to run and not get tired. Running represents the exceptionally hard demands of life and the moments of severe trial or suffering. When we endure a significant trial that goes beyond the normal Christian difficulties we all experience, we recognize that we need the Lord’s power – not ours – and we trust Him to give it to us just when we need it.
God’s strength also helps us with the daily grind of life – and that’s what Isaiah means when he describes ‘walking.’ We don’t just need God’s power when life is exceptionally challenging. We need His power every moment of every day. When we look away from our own resources to trust God to supply what we need, we will have strength for the everyday spiritual battles so that they do not wear us out and overcome us.
All of us will experience difficult seasons, feeling like Israel in exile, wondering if God sees or cares. The answer, as found in Isaiah 40, is to remember who our God is and depend on Him by faith for strength. No matter how much the daily grind of the Christian life has worn us out, God has strength for every challenge – supernatural, divine strength to carry us as if on eagle’s wings. The Lord has assured us of victory over every spiritual battle and exhaustion – if we would but wait on Him.