Those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
I love this verse. Who wouldn’t want the strength, energy, and endurance it promises? I especially love the imagery of soaring like an eagle and of running without becoming weary. I ran track and cross-country in high school, and it was rare that I wasn’t so tired I’d feel like quitting at some point during a race. What kept me going at those times, rather than giving up from weariness? Hope. There were two sorts of hope, actually.
One was the hope that I would win the race. That was a rather nebulous sort of hope, since I wasn’t the fastest runner on Fox Lane’s team, plus a rival school had triplet girls on their team who seemed like they had wings for feet, with all three girls typically finishing first, second, and third in every race. The other hope was more solid, and it didn’t depend on how many runners finished before I did. That was the knowledge that I would feel good for having run and finished the race. That second hope is a bit closer to what Isaiah was talking about. It’s not the “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow” kind of hope, which is really more of a wish that may or may not be based on facts, but a hope based on confidence and facts.
The hope the Bible refers to is more like the confidence that, whether or not it rains tomorrow, the sun will rise. I might not be able to see the sun if the clouds are heavy, but I know it will be there. It is a confident expectation, based on God’s character, that he will fulfill his promises to those who put their trust in him, despite all the darkness and clouds we encounter in this life. That is the hope that enables us to run and not grow weary, to walk and not faint, to renew our strength, and, at least figuratively, to soar like an eagle. I like having that sort of hope.
Like Isaiah with his image of a soaring eagle, I find reminders of this hope in nature, both the ways that hope is already fulfilled with strength or encouragement for this present time and the promise of more yet to come. The following is a piece of writing I did on hope a couple of summers ago.
House Finches and Goldfinches sing; a gray squirrel churrs in the silver maple tree; a Downy Woodpecker taps, finding life and hope in a dead tree; the brook babbles as it flows with renewed energy after yesterday’s rain; a cool breeze ruffles my hair, soothing my soul.
Sunlight dapples woods and grass with myriad shades of green, all signs of life, of spring’s hope fulfilled, yet not yet fulfilled, as seeds still silently grow, ripen, and mature—promise and hope for next year, for a new generation.
A male Robin searches the dappled grass for worms, feeds his fledglings over and over—a dad nurturing his young, while his mate warms the eggs of their second clutch, soon to hatch. Hope fulfilled yet not yet fulfilled.
Black walnuts, already round but still small, swell and grow with promise and hope. Some lie in the grass already, fallen too soon, now food for the churring squirrel’s furry young with their hope for a life of leaping through sun-dappled trees, feeding on walnuts large and small. Hope fulfilled yet not yet fulfilled.
The blue of the sky, the chorus of birds and burgeoning brook, sunlight and breeze—hope for today and promise of hopes not yet fulfilled.
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
Here’s a post with suggestions for praying for and with hope: Hope: Hebrews 6:19-20 & 10:19-22
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