Posted by: rcottrill | September 13, 2009

Lord’s Day Meditation – Renewing Our Strength

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on 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. (Isa. 40:30-31)

Eric Liddell, the “Flying Scotsman,” was the famed gold medalist in the 1924 Olympics. The film Chariots of Fire depicts events in his life around that time. There is a scene in it that is particularly memorable. The actor playing Eric Liddell, on his way to becoming a missionary to China, is reading from Isaiah Chapter 40 in a church service. And, as he reads the verses quoted above, the film cuts to some runners toiling in a race, exhausted, stumbling, falling. It is a powerful image because it emphasizes our human limitations.

The setting of Isa. 40:30-31 is a time of trial and testing. Israel says, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my just claim is passed over by my God” (vs. 27). Historically, the struggle relates to the Babylonian Captivity in which the Jews suffered as slaves for 70 years. Prophetically, it points to the persecution of the nation in the Great Tribulation yet to come (cf. Matt. 24:15-26). But of course there is a broad principle involved that applies to believers personally in every age. While we wait for God to deliver, we can wait on God for strength.

Dr. Harry Ironside, in his commentary on Isaiah, makes this insightful comment:

Mere natural and physical powers will not avail in the hour when one is called upon to face great mental and spiritual emergencies. But they who have learned to refer everything to God and to wait quietly upon Him will be given all needed strength to rise above depressing circumstances, thus enabling them to mount heavenward as eagles facing the sun, to run their race with patience, and to walk with God with renewed confidence and courage, knowing that they are ever objects of His love and care.

In our service for Christ we face not only the daily physical and mental strains but the spiritual struggle against the enemy of our souls. If we are to be both faithful and fruitful, we’ll need to continually renew our strength by the nourishment of God’s Word, and by seeking His daily grace in prayer. There is a gospel song with a lengthy refrain quoting the passage in Isaiah. The author of the words is identified only as G. M. J. The tune was written by James McGranahan.

Ho, reapers in the whitened harvest!
Oft feeble, faint, and few;
Come, wait upon the blessed Master,
Our strength He will renew.

For “they that wait upon the Lord
Shall renew their strength,
They shall mount up with wings,
They shall mount up with wings as eagles:
They shall run and not be weary;
They shall walk and not faint.”

Rejoice! For He is with us alway,
Lo, even to the end!
Look up! Take courage and go forward–
All needed grace He’ll send.


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