April 21, 2021

Waiting

 My wife and I are waiting. 

We don't like waiting. It isn't our favorite. But I noticed this morning, as we were discussing our waiting, that we are handling it in different ways: my wife an I. The one way of dealing with it was not better than the other way, it was just different. For me, even though I am an analytical person, I don't tend to analyze these sorts of things. I tend to bundle them up in a little cubby of my mind. The stressors and anxiety-producing realities find a quiet little home in a quiet little part of my mind. I wrap them up in my blankie in that cubby. I check in on them from time to time, but quickly divert my attention to my job-related "squirrels"... My Adult ADD finds this to be the easiest thing to do.  Squirrels naturally grab my attention fairly easily, so the squirrels of homeroom videos, discipline referrals, tech-help requests, lunch duty, and front door duty allure my focus without any hesitating. I'm not saying it is healthy or appropriate... It is just my go-to.  

My wife, on the other hand, tends to analyze the situation. She asks the hard questions of herself when dwelling in the waiting. Things like, Why is this difficult? What am I really wanting? What is God teaching me? etc. To be honest, my hunch is that her way of dealing with the waiting is better than mine. 

In each of our individual methods, neither of us was escaping a side affect of waiting: It was still leaving each of us with a drained feeling - A sense of having our strength sapped away. So while discussing this experience, over our coffee-drinking experience, a passage of scripture from Isaiah came to me - just a phrase really - but it had me scratching my head. The phrase ended up coming from Isaiah 40:31, which says, "but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength..." (Sung, of course... Petra style.) This phrase came to my mind because the "wait for the LORD" wasn't resulting in anything that even remotely looked like a renewal of strength. 

I shared this snippet of scripture with my wife, again Petra style, along with its head-scratching sentiment. She shared my sentiment, so we felt the need to dig into the context of Isaiah 40 to determine why our heads needed scratching and why our strength wasn't renewing but was being sapped. As a result of our digging, I would like to share with you the entirety of Isaiah 40, along with a few tidbits of commentary along the way. I would like to do this because the picture that is being painted, leading up to verse 31 (the final verse of that chapter with that phrase) explains why one would have renewed strength when waiting for the Lord. Not to give everything away, but it seems that the renewed strength isn't a result of the waiting, but of all that leads into the waiting, and the need for renewal may actually come from the waiting. 

Isaiah 40 opens with a word from God to the Prophet. The statement contains the words and the way the prophet should speak to God's people in God's city. In verses 3 through 5, there is a snippet of what is yet to come, captured in the prophecy of the forerunner to the Messiah. After that, the passage delves into some commentary on the nature and reality of Our God... accentuated by the reality of us - mankind. 

Isaiah 40

[1] Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.

[2] Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,

and cry to her

that her warfare is ended,

that her iniquity is pardoned,

that she has received from the LORD’s hand

double for all her sins.

[3] A voice cries:

“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;

make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

[4] Every valley shall be lifted up,

and every mountain and hill be made low;

the uneven ground shall become level,

and the rough places a plain.

[5] And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,

and all flesh shall see it together,

for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

[6] A voice says, “Cry!”

And I said, “What shall I cry?”

All flesh is grass,

and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.

[7] The grass withers, the flower fades

when the breath of the LORD blows on it;

surely the people are grass.

[8] The grass withers, the flower fades,

but the word of our God will stand forever.

[9] Go on up to a high mountain,

O Zion, herald of good news;

lift up your voice with strength,

O Jerusalem, herald of good news;

lift it up, fear not;

say to the cities of Judah,

“Behold your God!”

[10] Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might,

and his arm rules for him;

behold, his reward is with him,

and his recompense before him.

[11] He will tend his flock like a shepherd;

he will gather the lambs in his arms;

he will carry them in his bosom,

and gently lead those that are with young.

[12] Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand

and marked off the heavens with a span,

enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure

and weighed the mountains in scales

and the hills in a balance?

[13] Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD,

or what man shows him his counsel?

[14] Whom did he consult,

and who made him understand?

Who taught him the path of justice,

and taught him knowledge,

and showed him the way of understanding?

[15] Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,

and are accounted as the dust on the scales;

behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.

[16] Lebanon would not suffice for fuel,

nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.

[17] All the nations are as nothing before him,

they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.

[18] To whom then will you liken God,

or what likeness compare with him?

[19] An idol! A craftsman casts it,

and a goldsmith overlays it with gold

and casts for it silver chains.

[20] He who is too impoverished for an offering

chooses wood that will not rot;

he seeks out a skillful craftsman

to set up an idol that will not move.

[21] Do you not know? Do you not hear?

Has it not been told you from the beginning?

Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

[22] It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,

and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;

who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,

and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;

[23] who brings princes to nothing,

and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.

[24] Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,

scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,

when he blows on them, and they wither,

and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

[25] To whom then will you compare me,

that I should be like him? says the Holy One.

[26] Lift up your eyes on high and see:

who created these?

He who brings out their host by number,

calling them all by name;

by the greatness of his might

and because he is strong in power,

not one is missing.

[27] Why do you say, O Jacob,

and speak, O Israel,

“My way is hidden from the LORD,

and my right is disregarded by my God”?

[28] Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The LORD is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

his understanding is unsearchable.

[29] He gives power to the faint,

and to him who has no might he increases strength.

[30] Even youths shall faint and be weary,

and young men shall fall exhausted;

[31] but they 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.


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