Lessons from the Bible: Isaiah 40
This is a verse that has followed me for decades. Almost forty years ago, I joined a church in Arlington, Texas, Mt. Olive MBC. The pastor, Rev. N.L. Robinson, had a signature verse that we read every Sunday. It was from Isaiah, Chapter 40, Verse 31. Over time, I committed it to memory, but like many other verses, I didn't always know how to apply it to my own life. Far too often, this is the case. We read the Bible and quote the stories of its heroes, but the words only seem to fit Biblical times, the people and prophets of that era, not our own. So many things have changed since then, and we can't always find the relevance of the words in the gospel to our current situations. But if we look closely, we can indeed, apply these passages to our modern lives.
This is a passage about faith, about knowing that God is the source of our strength. Notice the difference in wording in the two images. The one above uses "wait upon the Lord" and "mount up with wings as eagles". It is from the older King James version of the Bible, and takes on a more literal translation. The image in the preview, on the other hand, says "Those who hope in the Lord... will soar on wings like eagles." This is from the New International Version, replacing "wait" with "hope'" and "mount up" with "soar", words more common in our contemporary language, words with more spirituality and sense of faith and empowerment.
The Bible is full of metaphors, and this one offers the image of the eagle who rises up to escape danger, secure its needs (food), and prevail over its enemies. We, as human beings, can do the same. If we put our hope and trust in the Lord, He will protect us from harm, from poverty and starvation, and from the attacks of our enemies, whether they are physical, mental or spiritual. There is also the metaphor of the athlete, engaged in a challenging competition, or a traveler embarking on a difficult journey. Our lives can be compared to both. We compete for our jobs and salaries, the success of our businesses, and our positions in our communities and churches. With God as the head of our lives, we can succeed on all fronts. And "journey" has become the latest buzz word for life experience. A new status, like wife or mother, a project, such as starting a business or writing a book, or a change in lifestyle, like fasting or dieting. giving up smoking, or committing to exercise, are now referred to as journeys. Doing these things with a renewed faith in God brings renewed energy, enthusiasm, and success.
Joel Osteen put it this way:
Whatever you need today. Know that God is your source and supply. You may feel tired and weary from a long spiritual or emotional battle, but God promises that He increases our strength and causes it to multiply. One of the ways God fills us with His strength is by giving us His joy. When we have joy, we have strength to overcome.
Joy is a supernatural empowerment that is deposited on the inside of you. As you meditate on the goodness and faithfulness of our God, you won't be able to help but feel His joy. Like rivers of living water, joy will flow forth from you, refreshing and strengthening you so that you have the power to overcome every obstacle that you may be facing. If you feel faint or weary, remember, there's a harvest of blessing in store for you. Let faith rise in your heart as you meditate on His promises. Let Him fill you with His peace and joy so that you will have an abundance of strength. As you do this, you will be empowered to live the life of victory the Lord has in store for you.
from Today's Word, Joel and Victoria Osteen
Think about what this means in our lives today. In the midst of the Covid pandemic, we have been worried about our health, our jobs, and our ability to maintain our homes and families. Many of us have been worried about our mere survival, let alone our success.We are recovering from one of the most uncaring administrations in America's history when it comes to the poor, the sick, the elderly, and immigrants, . It seems that every month, we face the news of another mass shooting or the killing of an unarmed Black man by a police officer. The only way to overcome these stresses is through faith. Meditate on the Lord. Look for His guidance. You can find it His Word, the Bible. And it is as relevant today as it was over 2000 years ago. Renew your faith. Study your Bible, or whatever your book of faith happens to be. I'm sure there are words that will empower you, bring you joy, and make you soar.