Isaiah 40:31 King James Version (KJV)
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up
with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
It’s hard to wait – let alone be in a season of waiting. Having to wait can stir up questions and emotions within us and we always seem to want to rush through the waiting as fast as we can. It can feel so draining, and like such a waste of time when we have to wait.
During times when I felt like I was in a “season of waiting”, I’ve often found hope in Isaiah 40:31.
For a long time, I’d read this verse in one simple way – while picturing a soaring eagle, thinking it meant for me to just be patient and wait: sit, trust, and stop trying to figure it all out. I thought that by doing these things, I would feel strengthened.
While there is most definitely truth to that way of interpreting the verse, I’ve come to my own conclusion that it means so much more than just that!
Let’s take a look at how other translations of The Bible begin this passage:
NIV: But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
NCV: But the people who trust the Lord will become strong again.
GNT: But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed.
AMP: But those who wait for the Lord (who expect, look for, and hope in Him) will gain new strength and renew their power.
I’m reminded of the song “Waiting on You” by Clint Brown.
Waiting on you. Waiting on you. Patiently waiting on you.
I ain’t worried about the time, cause Lord I seem to find strength while I’m waiting on you.
They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
They will mount up with wings like the eagle.
They will run and never be weary, walk and shall not faint.
That is why I choose to wait.
What sticks out to me most is the last phrase, “That is why I choose to wait”. My flesh often doesn’t choose to wait – and if I am forced to wait, I’m usually annoyed. But when we know that God is in the waiting, we can find strength while we wait, knowing that our wait is not in vain.
I was challenged again when a friend suggested I think about this verse another way. Consider a restaurant. What do we call the person literally standing between us and our food? A waiter (or waitress). Their job is to “wait” on us. What if the waiter “waited” like I defined waiting? By standing by, pausing, delaying and staying…
I, for one, would not be a happy customer. I’d likely be hungry and irritated. (“Hangry” anyone?) Why? Because my expectations of him would not be met. Instead, in this context, we can define the role of waiting as actively serving. Fitting since a waiter is also known as a server.
Have you ever heard the saying that goes something like “waiting on them hand and foot”? This means to act as a servant and to provide everything that someone needs or wants.
The idea of waiting and serving are deeply intertwined.
What if we read Isaiah 40:31 with that mindset? It would read like this:
But they that SERVE the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Is. 40:31 KJV
Wow. That’s a game changer, isn’t it?
Although there are times in our lives where we need to wait on the Lord (defined as “stay still and trust”), there are also times when we need to wait by serving.
I think it’s helpful to interpret the meaning of this word “wait” as trusting AND serving. Serving and trusting while we wait is how we will soar.
Take a moment to read each verse below as it is written, and then again, substituting the bolded word(s) for the words “trust and serve”. He’s good, ya’ll!
- The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. (Lamentations 3:25)
- Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. (Psalm 25:5)
- Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the (Psalm 27:14)
- Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it. (Psalm 37:34)
- I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. (Psalm 40:1)
- I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. (Psalm 130:5)
- Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee. (Proverbs 20:22)
- Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. (Micah 7:7)
Another song on this topic that ministers to me is “While I’m Waiting” by John Waller. I have made this my anthem in times when I’m hurting but yet have a made-up mind. The lyrics allow me to acknowledge that it’s not always easy to wait, while encouraging me to be bold in my declaration of my intentions, while I wait.
I’m waiting. I’m waiting on You, Lord. And I am hopeful, I’m waiting on You, Lord.
Though it is painful. But patiently, I will wait.
I will move ahead, bold and confident, taking every step in obedience.
While I’m waiting, I will serve You. While I’m waiting, I will worship.
While I’m waiting, I will not faint. I’ll be running the race, even while I wait.
I’m waiting. I’m waiting on You, Lord. And I am peaceful. I’m waiting on You, Lord.
Though it’s not easy. But faithfully, I will wait.
I will serve You while I’m waiting. I will worship while I’m waiting on You, Lord.
Take a moment to really consider your current season in life. Are you needing this strength that lifts you up with wings as eagles? That lets you run and not be weary, walk and not faint? I know I sure do…and thankfully, as we’ve just seen, His Word teaches us how to get it.
What are some practical ways you can serve, right now? Realizing that serving Him often involves serving others as His “hands and feet”, how can you be waiting while you wait?
“Dear Lord, the promise of renewed strength is so appealing because
I often find myself desperately in need. There are so many things
I don’t understand and so many more things that I need your help with.
I am deciding today, again, that I will choose to wait on you.
I will wait by trusting, worshipping, and serving.
Thank you for your promise of renewed strength
and for the hope I find in Your Word.