By Dick Koehneke
“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.” (Isaiah 40:13)
What does it mean to hope in the Lord? Christian hope is not wishful thinking. It’s being confident that God will keep His promises. God has given us many wonderful promises. There are two promises of our Lord that are especially helpful to me these days. One is, “I am going to prepare a place for you; I will come back and take you to be with me where I am.” The other is, “I am with you always, until the end of the world.”
The first promise tells us that we have a home with God in heaven through faith in Christ. Trusting this promise keeps our focus on what really matters: not so much on the twists and turns of life in this world, but on our eternal destination in heaven, our true home. Christ is preparing a place for you. Someday he will come and take you to be with him. The promised future of life with God in heaven gives us strength to deal with the struggles and challenges we face here on earth. Someday we will be with our Lord, beholding his glory. What a joyous day that will be, what a glorious day, what a victorious day!
Until we are with our Lord in heaven, He is with us here on earth. That’s the second promise I try to remember: “I am with you always, until the end of the world.” The literal meaning of the word “always” in the original language is “all the days.” Jesus is with you all your days on this earth: on your good days, on your bad days, your high days and your low days, your days of success and your days of failure, your days of health and your days of sickness, your joyful days and your sad days, and also on those days when you’re just plain in a daze, when nothing is working and nothing makes sense.
The song “Hills and Valleys” by Tauren Wells says it beautifully. Here are the words to the chorus:
“On the mountains I will bow my life to the One who set me there.
In the valleys I will lift my eyes to the One who sees me there.
When I’m standing on the mountain I didn’t get there on my own.
When I’m walking through the valley I know I am not alone.
You’re God of the hills and valleys, and I am not alone!”
Our Lord is with you in the hills and valleys of life — “all the days” of your life. Even on your lonely days, you’re not alone. Jesus is with you, closer than your next breath, nearer than your next heartbeat. He helps you take your next step, and the next one, and the one after that, until you take your final step across the threshold of heaven. When the world ends, or when your life ends – whichever comes first – Jesus won’t be with you anymore, because you will be with him! That’s why he says, “I’m with you until the end of the world.” Then we’ll be with him in heaven!
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. Our hope is not the same as optimism. Optimism says, “Cheer up! Things will get better.” But sometimes things don’t get better. Christian hope says, “Even if things get worse, if disaster turns into a meltdown, if calamity becomes catastrophe, God has a plan and a purpose for me. My salvation is secure in Christ, the Lord is with me in all my experiences, and I have a home in heaven.”
I invite you to say those words right now, either in your heart or out loud, pausing after each sentence to reflect and let God speak to your heart. Here goes:
- “God has a plan and a purpose for me.”
- “My salvation is secure in Christ.”
- “The Lord is with me in all my experiences.”
- “I have a home in heaven.”
“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.” When you’re soaring on wings like an eagle, hope in the Lord. You say you’re not soaring like an eagle? You may not be soaring, but maybe you’re running. When you’re running and not getting weary, hope in the Lord. You say you’re tired of running? Maybe walking is the best you can do. When you’re walking and not fainting, hope in the Lord. It could be that you’re exhausted and you can’t walk anymore. When you have no strength left, hope in the Lord. Rest in him. You don’t have to do anything. Be still. Let the Lord love you and care for you.
“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” Yes, Lord. Let it be so.