Monday, June 11, 2007

Waiting and Hoping

A few years ago, I decided to brush up on my Spanish language skills, so I took a couple of continuing education classes. One night, a student was struggling through a Spanish passage and translated the word "esperar" as "to wait." The instructor corrected him. Although "esperar" does mean "to wait," in that particular sentence, it meant "to hope." The student remarked on the fact that the same word had both meanings. The teacher shrugged and said, "Why not? To wait is to hope."

As I retell this story, I realize I may have it backwards. She may have said, "To hope is to wait." I don't think it really matters. If you're hoping for something, you haven't attained it yet. You wait, and you hope. You hope, and you wait.

I made a similar discovery when reading a Scripture passage recently. One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 40:31. I learned it in the King James version: "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."

Then one day, I ran across a different translation (NIV): "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."

What a beautiful promise! It's so tempting to print the whole of Isaiah 40, which starts off, "Comfort, comfort my people." Just before verse 31, we're assured that God never grows weary or loses strength. Even youths will grow tired and fall, but God has an unending supply of energy, and He will renew us if our trust is in him. (And oh yeah, still another translation of verse 31 begins, "Those who trust in the Lord…")

So it all depends on where we place our trust. Where we place our hope.

If our God is the Lord, to wait is to hope.