This time of year is rough on lots of people. In Kentucky we’ve had a lot less snow and ice than in some other places. Even so, the grayness and short days often have a wearing effect. Some suffer from seasonal affective disorder, which leads to depression.
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. [from Isaiah 40]
Our writer was of course speaking to a people in exile, who’d spent a lot of years away from home. They were tired. Tired of the distance, the longing, the not knowing if they’ll ever get back, of feeling powerless.
He speaks to us, too. We get tired. Exhausted, even. Lonely. Faint, the poet says. And what is the word we’re to hear?
When I studied biblical languages, I learned that triplets(three-line sequences) in Hebrew poetry, like the one at the end of this chapter, grew in emphasis from the first to the third. In other words, the last line is more important to the author than the middle, and the middle is more important than the first. In this case, that seems counterintuitive to me.
If he were thinking/writing/preaching the way I would, the poet would have said, “They shall walk and not faint, they shall run and not be weary, they shall mount up with wings like eagles.” But his order is just the opposite of what I’d expect.
Surely, I would say, flying like an eagle should be the pinnacle moment of this poem, not walking without falling down.
Here’s what I have grown to love in this poem: Sometimes, no matter how much we long to soar like an eagle, all we can do is barely manage to put one foot in front of the other, over and over and over again. Maybe that is the pinnacle. That the very best thing is simply to be able to walk, in faith and with strength, because God accompanies us.
© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2015