I’m in Week #6 of “safer at home”—and unless you’re considered an “essential worker” (and thank you if you are), you’ve been at home the same amount of time (or close to it).
Safer at home. Self-quarantined. Sequestered. Under house arrest. Call it what you want, but I’m beginning to feel more and more like the apostle John exiled to the island of Patmos (Rev. 1:9).
We’re seeing the negative impact of being confined at home for such a long period. At one end, the purchase of alcohol has skyrocketed and reports of domestic abuse have risen. At the other end, we feel the isolation from friends and co-workers. Even children who were excited at first at the prospect of no school have changed their tune. Many even miss their teachers!
Discouragement sets in as the isolation continues. Will this ever end? When can I have my life back?
We are in exile and it ain’t fun.
In the sixth century B.C., the Jewish people were in exile and they were getting discouraged. Extremely discouraged. They had been repeatedly warned that, if they did not change their ways and return to God, they would be punished through exile—which is exactly what happened. But after years of exile, though, the people were wondering if God had totally forgotten them.
God used the prophet Isaiah to speak comfort and hope to the people. The same God who had the power to punish His people is the same God who had the power to give them the courage and strength to continue. God’s discipline of His people was to draw them back to Him, and if they would trust Him—even while in exile—they would have the strength and resolve they needed.
It is worth your time to read Isaiah 40. (Go ahead, I’ll wait.) You see a picture of God’s comfort and His sovereignty. God is greater than any exile because of either Babylonians or COVID-19. Isaiah’s words of comfort culminate in verse 31:
“Those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint.”
We do not like what the COVID-19 pandemic has done to our jobs, health, relationships, or lifestyle. But our trust in God should supersede any fear or discouragement. Let’s consider how Isaiah 40:31 speaks into our lives in 2020. [I have adapted what follows from Advanced Bible Study, Spring 2020.]
When we trust God, He renews our strength. The Hebrew word “renew” may better be understood as “exchange.” Our failing strength is exchanged for God’s unfailing strength. It results in a new source of power for living.
How do we experience this power?
To “soar on wings like eagles” is a beautiful description of the power of faith, of soaring to new heights with God. The eagle is characterized by the speed of flight and keenness of vision. The eagle has a unique eyelid, which protects the eye from the dazzling brightness and unrelenting heat of the sun. Like the eagle, we soar and we see. We not only rise above life’s trivialities that tend to swallow up our pursuit of God, but we also have a keen vision of God Himself. We see Him. We behold Him (v. 9). We know Him. During those mountaintop times with God, to experience God is to experience flight. The flight to meaning, to wholeness, to wellness, to life, to heaven.
Running is another compelling picture of the faithful. Paul wrote of “running well” (Gal. 5:7) and finishing “the race” (2 Tim. 4:7). The author of Hebrews added, “Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us” (Heb. 12:1). The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re a runner, you know of hitting the “runner’s wall,” when you’re exhausted and ready to quit. But when we trust God, He empowers us to keep on.
Walking is more characteristic of how we live the Christian life. We plod along day after day. The Bible often uses walking as a metaphor for behavior. We frequently talk about the “Christian walk.” Living out our days may be uneventful, but walking or living out our faith will reveal the character of our lives. And, as we go through our days, we demonstrate that our faith is making a difference in our lives.
Let’s not lose hope. What we are experiencing is not beyond God. And He will see us through.
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