By Hope Made Strong
Bible Reading: Isaiah 40:27-31
I couldn’t help but notice the words of Isaiah 40:31 emblazoned on the t-shirt of my hospice patient. That he was wearing such a t-shirt did not surprise me, for he was a man of faith. But I thought to myself–what a curious juxtaposition of realities. On the one hand, my patient friend was bedridden and suffering from a terminal illness. On the other hand, his t-shirt verse spoke of running without growing weary and walking and not growing faint?
The promise of this oft-quoted verse needs to be understood in its context. The prophet Isaiah addressed Judah and Jerusalem in the book. Whereas the first 39 chapters dealt primarily with judgment, chapters 40-66 focused instead on comfort, with words of encouragement addressed to the Jewish exiles in captivity. These later chapters are filled with Messianic prophecies which directed Israel to the restoration and strength that would be provisioned in their promised Messiah.
In the immediate context (Isaiah 40:9-30), we are reminded that God is the omnipotent creator of all things. Nothing is too difficult for him! Unlike us, “he does not faint or grow weary” and “his understanding is unsearchable” (Isaiah 40:28). “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength” (Isaiah 40:29). The promise of Isaiah 40:31 is to those who wait (hope, in some translations), on Him. To wait is to prayerfully and humbly trust him. It is to set one’s hope on his provision and to rest in his providence. Those who wait on him are promised renewed eagle-like strength, allowing them to rise above their circumstances; and the necessary endurance that they might persevere!
Her hands were so gnarled by arthritis that she was unable to hold a pen, so a crayon or stick of chalk was wedged between her fingers so she could write on a surface suspended over her bed. She had hoped to become a concert pianist, but in her late twenties she was diagnosed with severe arthritis. By the end of her life she was only four feet tall. Annie Flint was born in New Jersey on Christmas Eve 1866, she would go on to endure more than her share of sorrow. When she was only four, her mother died giving birth to her sister. At age six her father died of an incurable disease. She and her sister were adopted by a Christian family, but both her adopted parents died soon after she graduated from high school. Annie’s arthritis grew worse, until she was no longer able to walk. Later in life she was no longer able to open her hands, so she typed poems on a typewriter with her knuckles. In spite of her sorrows and infirmities, she wrote many poems, intent that God’s grace might thus be made manifest in her weakness. Her life verse was: “My grace is sufficient for thee; for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). You know of her as the writer of the words of the hymn, “He Giveth More Grace.” Indeed He does, and in that reality we find good reason for hope amidst our challenges.
HE GIVETH MORE GRACE
He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
Hope is never ill when faith is well – John Bunyan
Heavenly Father. Thank You for this timeless reminder that we should always look to You amidst our afflictions. As our Omnipotent Creator, You never grow weary or tired and are well able to strengthen us in our weakness. Forgive us for our sinful tendency to rely on ourselves and our hoarded resources. Thank You for all the times You’ve come to the aid in our past, help us to readily look to You even now. Praise You for Your limitless love and measureless grace! No matter how weak or weary we might find ourselves, You’ve an infinite supply of grace to meet our need. May the reality of Your gracious provision in our lives lead others to look to You. Amen.