Don't you know? Haven't you heard? The eternal God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, doesn't grow tired or become weary. His understanding is beyond reach. He gives strength to those who grow tired and increases the strength of those who are weak. Even young people grow tired and become weary, and young men will stumble and fall. Yet, the strength of those who wait with hope in the Lord will be renewed. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and won't become weary. They will walk and won't grow tired.
What does it even mean to "wait with hope"? For most of us, I think this means something like that we wait with crossed fingers and bated breath, that we hold our hearts in tender limbo, expecting, wanting, but not yet exactly counting our chickens. For most of us, I think that this means that we stand as still as we can, trying not to upset the balance of anything because we're not sure which way the universe (a.k.a. God) is leaning, and we don't want to accidentally tip things in the wrong direction.
But this verse in Isaiah tells us what it actually means to "wait with hope" - it means to keep moving in a God-ward direction with whatever strength you have.
This means that sometimes, you soar. And soaring is a bit of a different thing than so often easily comes to mind. You see, the magic of soaring for the eagle (or for any bird) is in the hollowness of his wings. It's his emptiness that enables the wind to carry him. So let me ask you this: have you ever felt empty? Are you feeling empty right now? Then, this is the time for you to soar.
When you soar, all you have to do is open your wings and let the holy wind of God do the rest. Let His breath carry you. Let it take you where He needs you to go. There are several characters in the Bible who soared - Elijah soared when he was too worn out even to feed himself; God sent ravens to feed him. Jonah soared when he was weary and miserable from his journey away from, then toward, Nineveh; God sprung up a plant to shade him from the hot sun. David soared when he was running from his enemies and exhausted; God sheltered him in caves and protected him from his enemies. These men were totally drained, but they never stopped moving in a God-ward direction. And it was God who brought them there.
Waiting with hope means sometimes, you run. Running is what happens when you've got all the fire and fervor in the world, when whatever God's got for you takes such firm hold of you that you can't help but go all-out in pursuit of it. But running, though it's authentically passionate, is not necessarily easy. It tends to make you weary. It makes you weary because not everyone can keep up with your pace. Your energy leads you faster and further than your world is often willing to go with you, and weary doesn't just mean tired or worn out; it means discouraged. Fed up. Disappointed.
That's what I love about this promise in this verse - if you've got all the fire, God says run with it; He will not let you be discouraged. This is Ezra/Nehemiah, as they sought to rebuild the Temple and the holy city of Jerusalem. This is Daniel, as he pressed for special treatment in Babylon according to his God's wisdom. This is Paul and Peter, who repeatedly found themselves in prison for preaching the word, only to step out of the jail and right back into the public square. They ran with all their fire, and they refused to grow weary.
So when you are empty, you soar, and when you are full, you run. But sometimes, you're neither empty nor full - you just are. And so here, you wait with hope by simply walking...walking in a God-ward direction. Walking is tough because for most of us, it feels like wandering. We don't really know what we're doing. We don't really know where we're going. We're just trying to faithfully put one foot in front of the other and do something, go somewhere. It's prone to make us tired, but we're not talking here about just a physical tiredness; we're talking about an existential tiredness - a.k.a. boredom.
But God says you won't get bored when you're walking Godward. (And honestly, how could you?) He is making sure that our energies stay up, that we don't become either drained or distracted. This is the story of steadfastness, and we could look at nearly any of the prophets as an example. We could look at Israel on her journey through the wilderness. We could look at Jesus on the shores of Galilee. Just faithful walking.
It's so tempting to think that our faith fails us when we feel like we're in a holding pattern, when we're sure we're just waiting on God to do something and then, it doesn't seem that He does. But this verse reminds us that waiting is not just standing there. It's not just sitting on our duffs, holding out hope. It's taking our hope in our hands and moving, however it is that we are able to move - either soaring on the wind of God in our emptiness, running with the fire and fervor of holy passion, or faithfully putting one foot in front of the other. This is what it means to wait with hope.