Strength for the powerless: reflection on Isaiah 40: 28 – 31 (@Seeking1st)


Have you ever watched an eagle soaring up into the sky, without obvious effort or flapping of wings?

On holiday in the Austrian Alps I am often fascinated to see an eagle apparently resting in flight but still mounting upwards. They are skilled at waiting for the thermals, the warm air currents rising from the valleys. They catch a thermal and use it to rise by spreading their enormous wings. Yes those wings are strong and eagles are a symbol of strength but they know how not to exhaust that strength unnecessarily. They know how to use the strength freely provided by the various air currents of the mountains. In a sense they are resting, but also have to remain attentive, adjusting their tail and wing feathers to attune their flight to the conditions. Only that way can they rise to see the bigger picture below them and so find their food.

The eagle soaring upwards reminds me of the 40th chapter of the Book of Isaiah

Isaiah is one of the major prophet books of the Hebrew Scriptures – the Christian ‘Old Testament’. Chapter 40 is one of my favourite chapters of the Bible because of its great message of comfort for God’s people and assurance of God’s help. It is has a special message of hope for those who are exhausted, discouraged or enduring hard times. It invites me to look up, to see the bigger picture in the context of a God who is immeasurably great, far beyond what our feeble minds can understand, but who  cares and “feeds his flock like a shepherd”.

When we fall exhausted, God does not.

When I feel I have no more strength for daily work, or nothing more relevant to post on-line or contribute anywhere else, I need to rest in the thermals of God’s Spirit. My tweets and blog posts will pass away but God’s word “will stand forever”

God’s word will accomplish God’s purposes with or without my frantic flapping of wings.

So I might as well ‘wait for the Lord’, place my hope in him, like the eagle trusting the thermals to bear him up.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the creator of the ends of the earth;

he does not faint or grow weary;

his understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint

and strengthens the powerless.

Even youths will faint and be weary,

and the young will fall exhausted;

but those 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: 27 – 31 NRSV

Image Credit: Pixaby, public domain

About Nancy Wallace

Blogs as Seeker ( Tweets on Twitter as @Seeking1st. Church of England minister and grandmother, struggling to learn to pray, paint and play.