Renewed Strength

This morning, two of my favorite Scripture texts became real to me as never before. You probably love these passages as well. The first is Isaiah 40:28–31.

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 to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
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.

The second similar text is Psalm 103:1–5.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

 
All my adult life, I’ve considered these as beautiful, meaningful, and true verses. But they hadn’t come to expression in my life. I knew God did all these things in the figurative sense, even in the literal sense for some people. I saw God blessing me in many of these ways over and over; however, I felt older and weaker as I aged.

Yesterday was particularly brutal for some reason. Perhaps recent grief sapped my physical strength. Maybe my adrenaline reserves had been depleted. I suspect I’m fighting off a cold. Whatever the reasons, my physical strength seemed at an especially low ebb. Immediately after dinner, I fell asleep in my recliner. I woke and spent a brief time on the computer, before stumbling to bed at 10:00.

cloudy-skiesAnd I felt just as exhausted when I woke this morning. Although I’d slept fairly well, I was still tired. I crafted some correspondence and did a little online research that initially seemed a waste of precious time. Then I did my devotions.

I’m reading The One Year Chronological Bible, published by Tyndale, and I finished Job this morning. I absolutely love that book of the Bible! I love God’s direct speech to a mere mortal: “Brace yourself like a man” (Job 38:3, 40:7). I love God’s vivid imagery and relentless litany describing His power and sovereignty.

We’re all a bit like Job at times. When we suffer with no apparent cause, a niggling part of our sinful nature would like to give God a piece of our mind. Certainly, we’re tempted to ask, “Why?” But as someone once suggested to my husband and me, better questions to ask God might be, “What do You want to teach me through this?” and “How do You want me to serve You in this?”

As I spent time communing with God after my Bible reading, I realized how my earlier correspondence and online research had piqued my literary interests and fueled my flagging creativity.

The more I thought and prayed, the more I became aware of God’s blessings in my life and His awesome power. Is anything too hard for the God who laid the earth’s foundation and marked off its dimensions, who stretched a measuring line across it and laid its cornerstone, while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy (Job 38:4–7)?

My spirit was refreshed and my strength renewed. I felt as eager to tackle my work as a war horse spoiling for battle (Job 39:19–25). I’m rising on eagle wings.

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Defeated foes, Psalm 60

David wrote Psalm 60 after his army commander, Joab, had won a great military victory over the Edomites, but that triumph had not overshadowed recent struggles in Israel. When David became king, the nation suffered from internal divisions and external enemies. But David recognizes all Israel’s problems have ultimately come from God.

O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses;
    you have been angry; oh, restore us.
You have made the land to quake; you have torn it open;
    repair its breaches, for it totters.
You have made your people see hard things;
    you have given us wine to drink that made us stagger (Psalm 60:1-3, ESV).

David implies God’s anger is righteous and over the people’s sins. He acknowledges God as the One who is sovereign over Israel’s calamity and strife, and as the only One who can restore and stabilize the broken and tottering kingdom. David compares the people, reeling from recent trauma, to those who stagger from potent wine. And he views even this as coming from God’s sovereign hand.

In verses 4-8, the tone changes from that initial dirge to a celebration of deliverance:

You have set up a banner for those who fear you,
    that they may flee to it from the bow. Selah
That your beloved ones may be delivered,
    give salvation by your right hand and answer us!

God has spoken in his holiness:
    “With exultation I will divide up Shechem
    and portion out the Vale of Succoth.
Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine;
    Ephraim is my helmet;
    Judah is my scepter.
Moab is my washbasin;
    upon Edom I cast my shoe;
    over Philistia I shout in triumph.”

God sets his banner of love over those who believe in him. He protects his people from physical and spiritual enemies, delivering them from many earthly struggles and from eternal condemnation.

David envisions God speaking directly to him, promising to restore all the holdouts within the kingdom, to rule forever through the tribe of Judah, and to thoroughly subdue all Israel’s enemies.

The final four verses turn into a prayer as David addresses God (9-12, ESV).

Who will bring me to the fortified city?
    Who will lead me to Edom?
Have you not rejected us, O God?
    You do not go forth, O God, with our armies.
Oh, grant us help against the foe,
    for vain is the salvation of man!
With God we shall do valiantly;
    it is he who will tread down our foes.

Again, David acknowledges God as the only source of security and victory. If God does not go with us, we can do nothing. Even if it seems that God has rejected us, even if he seems to allow our enemies to triumph, he will not allow his chosen ones to perish. Our salvation is secure in Jesus Christ. When we seek to do God’s will, we shall do valiantly–no matter how it appears to us or in the eyes of the world.

For it is God who treads down our foes. If we love God and serve him wholeheartedly, our enemies are his.

Who are your foes? Are they people who don’t see things exactly the same way you do? Are they people who have a different agenda from yours? Or are your enemies the forces that fight against Christ?

With God, you will do valiantly, because he is the One who does it all. He will conquer every foe opposed to him and his Word.