Lekh Lekha
For the week of October 27, 2001 / 10 Heshvan 5762
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 12:1 - 17:27
Haftarah: Isaiah 40:27 - 41:16

Discouraged? Don't Give Up!

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 be faint (Isaiah 40:31).

The promise of renewed strength. If you have ever been really weary and tired, you most likely yearned for renewed strength. Isaiah here is speaking to a tired and weary people. Being weary and tired often leads to discouragement. In that state we find it difficult to face life, to make decisions, to take another step.

But God gives his promise: "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength." When we are in that discouraged state it is often difficult to imagine that we can have strength again, but that is what he promises us. Note that this is not a promise of rest and comfort - which itself would be wonderful - it is a promise of great strength and vitality.

This is vividly pictured for us through Isaiah's words: "They will sore with wings like eagles." When we are in this state, we often don't feel like getting out of bed, let alone flying. But fly we will! And like eagles no less! Other birds flap and flap, some don't even fly at all, but eagles soar to great heights by their strong, large wings as they ride the currents of the wind.

God says to the tired and weary, to the discouraged ones who doubt that God even notices their difficult situation, let alone cares enough to help them (Isaiah 40:27) - you will fly like an eagle.

Now this is not a blanket promise to everyone who happens to be discouraged, tired, and weary. These words are directed to those whose hearts are inclined in a particular way: "Those who hope in the Lord."

What does it mean to hope in the Lord. Many other translations say "those who wait on the Lord." The translation quoted above uses "hope," because that is the kind of waiting intended here. It is an expectant waiting. It is like waiting at a bus stop, fully expecting the bus to arrive at that location. Because of this expectation, the person waits and waits. In that situation, we would not think of leaving that spot for a moment, in case the bus should arrive when we are not there. So we wait and we wait.

The discouraged ones who will fly like eagles are the ones that wait expectantly for God. These are those who know that God will come through for them. Even though life has beaten them down, they will continue to wait for God to come through. From time to time they may be tempted to not wait for him any more, but they dread leaving their position of expectation in case they miss God. And so they continue to wait for him.

What does it look like to not wait for God? That will look different for each person, but in each case it would mean neglecting the things that he has directed us to do. We might turn to activities displeasing to God. We might take our situation into our own hands, no longer relying on God's leading. We might stop nurturing our relationship with God, thinking that praying, studying his word and gathering with other believers has no benefit. Whatever it looks like, it will clearly lack a posture of expectation.

What is so very important to understand is that the promise of flying like eagles is not given to the strong and the confident. It is given to the weary and to the discouraged (Isaiah 40:29). Who else would need such a promise? This is to say that even though we might be looking for God to come through for us, yet we are discouraged. This passage is clear that there are times in life when it certainly looks as if God is taking way too long before he helps us in our difficulties. In fact there isn't a promise here of a change of circumstances, only that of strength and the ability to keep on going.

This is the process: As we go through difficult times where God seems far away, if we do not give up on him, he will strengthen us, providing us with wings to fly like eagles.

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