Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
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 be faint. (Isaiah 40: 31)Isaiah 40 gives the message of hope and comfort. When we are faced with natural calamities and catastrophes the general tendency is to get panic and feel utterly helpless. But the message of Isaiah is that the all powerful Lord God who “marked off the heavens” and “enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure” (v12) comes with might and arms of strength. Only when we grasp God’s power and our powerlessness does a word of hope emerge – namely that “those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength” (v 31).
Painful realities of contemporary crises: The first hearers of this message were those in exile in Babylon. For the exiles, captivity in Babylon was a painful reality. They were forced from their homes, eked out from the Promised Land, scattered, and became refugees in a foreign land. They are a people who longed for Jerusalem and wept by the rivers of Babylon (Psalms 137); they are the faint and powerless. From this condition each Israelite concludes, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God” (v.27). The prophet proclaims that Israel’s God is also the creator of the universe and the God of all the nations. Verse 21 makes it clear that Israel’s knowledge is not new information or recently acquired. It is a knowledge that had been known from the “beginning” and “from the foundations of the earth”. It is knowledge of YHWH work in history and in the life of the people. This knowledge is relevant for the contemporary crisis.
Wait for God and receive strength: The prophet affirms that the God who creates not only gave life at the beginning but gives new life in the present (vv. 28-31). Reiterating the initial question in verse 21 “have you not known?, have you not heard?” the prophet assures that this God is eternal, tireless and understand far more than they know. Where Israel questions and doubts, the prophet reassures them that God will never fail. The crisis of the Babylonian exile caused the people to forget their own story, the story of God’s attentiveness and dependability, the story of God’s love for Israel. Because they have forgotten, they are questioning the presence and power of this God. But those who remember their history and believe in the God who fulfills promises will be able to receive new strength and life from their relationship with this God. The ones who need help the most are the ones who will receive it from the creator, the all-powerful God. The faint and the powerless will receive new strength and power. Times are so difficult and the challenges are severe that even the young will faint and grow weary. Hope may be hard to sustain, but if we depend on God and wait and trust in our own story, we will receive the ability to meet the challenges and, indeed, to rise above them. Amen.
Prayer: Let us pray for those who are affected by natural calamities, war and poverty.
Rev. Joseph Johnny, New York