"Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those 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" (Isaiah 40:30-31, NRSV).
These prophecies were delivered to God's chosen people, the Israelites, while they were continuing to suffer under the oppressive rule and exile of the Babylonian empire. They lived their lives at the hands of this pagan government who only viewed them as people to be trampled over on their path to imperial greatness. They existed at the whim of this foreign power, not being able to plan for the future or worship our Lord freely and in peace. The most they could hope for was to survive from one day to the next under powers and circumstances that were beyond their control. There were no five-year-plans for Babylonian captives!
Thus, they waited in faith for the Lord to change their circumstances in ways that they could not. The prophet in Isaiah promised that, though they suffered in the present moment, their trust in the Lord would soon be rewarded. No longer would God remain far from them. No longer would their cries go unanswered. No longer would they bear the yoke of their enemies, but would instead be freed to live in freedom as God's chosen people once again. Their weakness would become strength, their exhaustion would lead to a new lease on life, their despair would turn to dancing. That was the way of the Lord then, and I believe that is the way of the world now as we look to the future that only God can bring.
Rev. Seth Nelson, author of The Church Unknown: Reflections of a Millennial Pastor, writes this blog. The blog focuses on the future of the church as well as how God loves and cares for us in the present. He is a pastor in Ronan, Montana.