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When Despondency and Depression Assail

W.E Vine (1873-1949) was a mighty Bible expositor and theologian, a master of New Testament Greek, and the author of the world-famous Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, yet his high learning never dulled the keen practical edge of his ministry.

Here are his uplifting meditations on Isaiah 40:28-30 “Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

“Any of us who are tempted to despondency because of the pressure of adverse circumstances should lay hold of the facts which we have accepted by faith, as well as gather from our experiences of God’s merciful dealings with us, that He, the Creator of all things, is “the same yesterday and to-day, yea, and for ever”, and therefore has the same power at our disposal as he manifested in His creative acts. He never suffers from over exertion; and since His understanding is infinite, He knows all about us. Our most trying experiences, whether from without or within, are not only known to Him, but are under His absolute control. He appoints the time for His interposition and our deliverance.

“So far from becoming faint, “He giveth power to the faint; and to him that hath no might He increaseth strength (or giveth strength abundantly).” What we need is faith to open our hearts to receive the strength He is ever ready to impart while we are undergoing the trial. That is His way of making our trials blessings. He aims at making us realise our utter incapability, so that we may take hold of His strength instead of despairing under the affliction.

“The strongest can never be sure of freedom from weariness, and an obstacle placed in their path may easily make them stumble: “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (v30-31). To wait upon the Lord is not simply a matter of patience, or even of longing – it means trust and the confidence which characterizes our hope. To experience this is to go from strength to strength, drawing continually from the resources of His power. To mount up with wings is to rise above difficulties, to fly above the mists and darkness of earth into the clear sunshine of God’s presence. Would that we more readily entered into this delightful experience. We shall do so, if Christ is a reality to us.

“Some suggest that the meaning is that of putting forth fresh feathers, as birds do after moulting, but the rendering in our version seems better. The eagle is characterized by three things – rapidity of flight, power of scent and keenness of vision. So our mounting up is not only a matter of rising above difficulties, it involves a joyous and quick discernment of the will and way of God for us and the keen vision of Himself by faith.

“But then we are very much on the earth, and hence the metaphor of running and walking: “I will run the way of Thy commandments, when Thou shalt enlarge my heart” (Psa 119:32). “I will walk at liberty; for I have sought Thy precepts” (v45). Running is suggestive of energetic effort, but what is also needed is the steady progress in the Christian path in the enjoyment of quiet communion with God.”