Bible Study

Isaiah 40

"[God] gives His people strength to get through another hard day, enough hope to get to tomorrow." by Captain Catherine Fitzgerald

Near my parents’ house in northern Michigan is a tall pine tree with an eagle’s nest. Whenever I visit them, I look forward to seeing the eagles soaring in the sky. Of all the birds in the sky, the eagles are always the easiest to identify. They seem to fly higher and soar longer than any other bird. Eagles represented strength long before they became the national bird of the United States of America. Roman legions used them as their standard, and they are also referred to in scripture as a symbol of the sort of strength that God gives His believers.

Isaiah 40:27-31 was spoken about 700 years before Jesus walked the earth. At that time, the people of God were about to experience one of the most disastrous events in their nation’s history. They were about to be destroyed and exiled by the Babylonians. It must have felt like God was abandoning them, but they had abandoned God. Instead of trusting in God and following His commands, they made treaties with foreign powers to help protect them. God had specifically commanded them not to do this. They still said they worshipped God at the Temple, but their actions as a nation said something else. God allowed their sin to take its natural course, and eventually, the nation was destroyed.

You can imagine how devastating and terrifying it was for their coun-try to be destroyed and taken over by a foreign power. Everything they knew, everything they depended on, was wiped out. The laws that protected them were gone. The land they previously owned now belonged to someone else. The friends they lived with were enslaved to serve the people of a foreign land. For the people of God, the land was also a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham and a sign of God’s very existence and care for them. The land was theirs because God had given it to them in miraculous ways after they left Egypt. Losing their land felt like they were also losing their God.

But Isaiah spoke these words of hope amid this disaster. Despite the circumstances, God was still in charge. He was still the Creator, and He was still faithful. Isaiah’s words reminded God’s people that despite all their unfaithfulness, God would still be faithful. Despite their seem-ingly dire circumstances, God was still real. Even if the land was taken away, God would keep His promise in the end.

Despite God’s goodness and faithfulness, people were quick to complain (v. 27). Isaiah reminds them of what they knew and chas-tised them for what they had so easily forgotten (v. 28). God is an everlasting God who is not destroyed by wars. God is the Creator; He knows how the earth was started and how it will end. These were hard truths for the Israelites to see when facing national destruction.

These are hard truths to see today, too, when bad things happen in our lives. But even in the bleakest of circumstances, scripture warns us not to negate God’s power and control of this world. He hasn’t left it. He isn’t taking a nap. He hasn’t given up on us.

So then, what is He doing? He is giving strength to the weary and giving power to the weak. He’s not doing it in a glamorous fashion but in a real and personal way. He gives His people strength to get through another hard day, enough hope to get to tomorrow. The believer today also has access to strength not of normal human means. But how do we access these resources?

We must hope in the Lord. What is hope? Hope is a certainty that God is whom He says He is no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. Hope is patience that knows God wins in the end, even if it is hard to see right now. Hope says, “I will be obedient to live according to His word—even when the world is saying some-thing else.” Our access to this supernatural resource comes from hoping in the Lord.
Whatever personal crisis you are experiencing is not too much for God. Whatever problems we face as a nation, God is not intimidated by them. God offers us a lifeline by hoping in Him.

When eagles soar high above the ground, they see a whole different perspective of the world than we do. The circumstances on the ground don’t change, but their perspective does. Perhaps one aspect of hoping in the Lord includes seeing past our immedi-ate circumstances and trusting in God’s overall plan. Like an eagle soaring high, we can see the beauty in a larger picture of what God is doing.
Isaiah promises that God under-stands our situation. However difficult it is, He knows and sees us. Rather than complain, we can have confidence that God is not sleeping. Rather than succumb to the weariness of the situation, we can turn to God for strength.

The last time I saw the eagle near my parents’ house, I looked up at the nest and saw a baby eagle. The adults were out flying somewhere else, likely hunting for breakfast. The young eagle stood on the edge of the nest and flapped its wings but did not fly away. Someday, it will be evicted from the nest and forced to learn to fly. Sometimes circumstances in life are like that. Hard times will either knock us to the ground or teach us to fly. But as believers, we don’t need to worry about how we will get through hard times. God promises that when we hope in Him, He will give us the strength to fly.

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