Clergy corner: Comfort is about giving strength to the weary

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Rabbi Erick Peretz.

■ Erick Peretz / Contributed

Chapter 40 of the book of Isaiah is all about comfort, not in the sense of pleasurable ease that leads to mindless contentment, but rather in the giving of strength to those who are afflicted and weary. Despite the menace of Babylonian captivity and exile, Isaiah foresaw Israel’s future restoration and salvation. God comforted those trusting in Him to persevere despite the seeming defeat: His kingdom will one day be established upon the earth.
According to Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait on the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar aloft as with eagles’ wings; when they are running they won’t grow weary, when they are walking they won’t get tired.”
In this verse, the subject is “they that wait,” a participle that comes from “kavah,” which means to trust or hope. The Hebrew word “tikvah” (hope) comes from the same root. Originally, kavah meant to “twist” or “weave,” as strands of a rope, making a tool capable of holding a heavy load securely.
There are many today with false hope, assuming that their good deeds or religious observances will make the burden of their lives secure. But the object of the participle here is HaShem (God): Only those that put their trust in Him are given the promise of renewal.
Notice that the word “renew” here comes from “chalaf,” meaning to change or come to life again. Job used this word when he said that even a tree cut down will put forth a second growth (Job 14:7), and he looked forward to the time when his “change” (chalifah) from mortality to immortality would come (Job 14:14).
Those who trust in the Lord are renewed in strength – koach – which expresses the ability to endure and cope with the various trials of life. As believers, we have been given the “ruach” (Holy Spirit) to help us in our infirmities until the time of our redemption is complete. In this hope we are saved and through this hope we are equipped with garments of praise and the armor of light.
Zechariah calls God’s people “prisoners of hope” and summons them to look forward to God’s liberation (Zechariah 9:12). Like Israel, we live in a time of affliction and spiritual warfare, but we do not lose heart and understand that our momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. (Psalm 27:14)

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