Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted…Isaiah 40:30
No matter our physical strength, it eventually wears out. Even for the young and energetic, our own resources and capacities are limited. We grow old, weary, exhausted.
My cousin is an ultra-marathon runner. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as an “ultra-marathon” until he started running them. Apparently there is a rare breed of individual for whom running 26.2 miles at a time simply isn’t grueling enough. These gluttons for punishment run 50 miles or 100 miles or, in some instances, even farther. My cousin has run multiple 100 mile races. He’s also run a few 24 hour races — which, as you might guess, is a non-stop race with no breaks for 24 hours. His longest run was a 500K race a few years ago, which is 314 miles. That race was the VolState 500K, which is a race from one end of the state of Tennessee to the other. Greg won that race in 2019. He also qualified for the U.S. Ultra Team a few years ago. He is one of the strongest, most disciplined people I know.
But even with all of his physical strength, Greg eventually grows faint. At one of his races, he actually pushed himself too far. He passed out and had to be hospitalized for a few days afterward. As the Lord says, even young men shall fall exhausted.
But no so with our God. Isaiah contrasts the fleeting strength of youth with the inexhaustible strength of the eternal God.
…but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.Isaiah 40:31
God doesn’t grow weary. His energy is a renewable resource. The older we get, the more weary we become. But not so with God. He never grows tired of carrying us, of comforting us, of fighting on our behalf and shepherding our souls. And His strength is transferred to those who wait on Him, those who trust in Him. He renews their strength. According to Hebrew scholars, the language here is more like, “they change their strength.” Like changing into fresh clothing, we trade in our weakness for His strength.
Centuries earlier, God said to the children of Israel at Mount Sinai, “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself,” (Exodus 19:4). This was God’s way of describing how He had delivered the people out of Egypt. He brought them out of bondage by bearing them on eagles’ wings. Fast forward to Isaiah’s day and God says, “I’ll do it again. For those who wait on me and hope in me, I’ll renew your strength. I’ll carry you just like I carried my people all those years ago.”
And today, God says the same thing to us.