2.8.14 Epiphanies come to those who wait. . .

Epiphany- Day 33

Isaiah 40:21-31 NIV

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.

No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

“To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

Why do you say, O Jacob,
and complain, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

but 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.


Translations vary here but I grew up with Isaiah 40:31 using the language of “but those who wait upon the Lord.” Many translations have it this way while others use the English word, “hope.” The Hebrew root is qawah and its meaning is wrapped up on both of these words. But as an English speaker, I don’t often use these words synonymously. I hope the weather gets better today, but I wait for the light to turn green.

This Hebrew term qawah, the intertwining of waiting and  hope, captures the kind of disposition required to be a person of epiphany. This is the posture required for the kind of deep attunement referenced in yesterday’s reading. The problem is both the way we understand hoping and waiting. All too often, rather than wait, we fret. We get agitated and anxious and impatient. We complain of how long we had to wait on the “next available agent,” but we really didn’t wait. We fretted anxiously and angrily. Our idea of hope is typically more associated with optimism rather than the biblical notion. In Scripture, hope looks more like profound inner confidence in God based on his past actions. Read back through the text above. The prophet’s call to wait or hope in the Lord is built on all of the character and past actions rehearsed.

The typical notion of waiting leads to exhaustion, weariness and even despair. The biblical way of waiting leads to being lifted up on wings like an eagle’s to a place of big picture perspective. It brings an “infused” energy that empowers long distance running without tiredness.

Take a look at Psalm 40 and see this concept of qawah in action. Pay particular attention to how melody emerges from this text.

It’s precisely this gifted place where waiting embraces hope that a “letting-go” happens which leads to life. It’s the place where we begin to hear the new song.

j.d. walt

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