P3: Distress to Hope & Strength


Since May, I have been out of sorts and distressed. Nothing bad has happened, but huge change is occurring with my daughter moving to Atlanta for her first post-college job and my son leaving for his freshman year in college. I am not sure how to respond or where I fit into all of this change.

My natural response to distress is to avoid it by distracting myself so I don’t have to face the issues causing the distress. And, because I don’t want to think about the distressing situation, I avoid wrestling with it in my relationship with Christ because I know that His answers are not easy and formulaic. Unfortunately, this avoidance pattern frequently leads to feeling hopeless and having a narrow perspective on my distressing situation.

However, I am always amazed how the Lord brings me back to Isaiah 40:31 when I am distressed.

Yet 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 40:31 (NIV)

Although this verse is not a formula that makes distressing circumstances go away, it is the way that God speaks to me, in the middle of distressing times , reminding me that I can experience hope and a life-giving perspective. Let’s see how Isaiah moves us from distress to hope and strength.

In Scripture, “hope” is the confident expectation that God will do what He promised. This includes my eternal future, as well as the fulfillment of all of His promises. The Hebrew word translated “hope” is a rope making term that means “to braid.” It is what a rope maker does when he braids hundreds of strands together to form one very strong rope. The picture Isaiah paints is if we are braided with the Lord, we will have hope!

Isaiah continues that those who “hope in the Lord, will renew their strength.” The Hebrew word translated “renew” means “to exchange.” In other words, if I am “braided” with the Lord, my weakness (discouragement) is replaced with His strength. And, the result of braiding ourselves with the Lord gives us a hope that is grounded in God’s perspective on my situation.

This hope and strength is illustrated in the second part of verse 31 with the effortless soaring of an eagle. This is exactly what God’s perspective does in hard circumstances. It lifts us above our problems and allows us to have a fresh view of them from God’s perspective.

When I am braided with the Lord, I spend time getting to know Him (both quality and quantity time) and seek to discover and embrace His perspective on my situation. I trust His Holy Spirit to give me hope and strength in my present circumstances. Though I may not know what the future holds, braiding myself with God enables me to face life’s circumstances using God’s strength versus my own weakness, and gives me the hope and life-giving perspective to face the distressing events in my life!

donna bDonna Buhrow is a long time teacher and lover of the Word of God. Her desire is to ignite a passion in others for Jesus Christ through the teaching of God’s Word. She has a B.A. and M.A. in Biblical Studies and co-leads One Women’s Community Bible Study in Wilsonville. Donna also has a mentoring ministry, has co-led the “Getting Ready for Marriage” class with Bill at GFU, is a retreat and conference speaker and an adjunct instructor at Multnomah University.

Donna and her husband, Bill, have been married for thirty years and loves being a full-time mom to their two children, Morgan (21) and Wills (18).

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