Scripture: Isaiah 30. Yes, the whole chapter. Take a few minutes and read it.
We all know the feeling. The weariness. The dread. The anxiety. The niggling doubt. We cling to Scriptures and prayer, looking for God to move in our situations. Yet, He seems stone silent, unmoving. We cry out, “Why? Why me? Why this? Why now?” We question what we have done to turn God against us. We wonder if the Lord is unhappy with us, or does He love us, or does He even hear our cries and prayers. We look for direction, for answers, for relief. And it simply does not materialize.
So, what do we do?
We take matters into our own hands. God isn’t working fast enough. He isn’t responding to our prayers. This pain has to stop. This trouble has to go away. This situation needs resolving now. We begin seeking answers on our own. We start wandering away from God. We reach a fork in the road and, without reading the signs, we turn toward Egypt.
Now, I have no doubt that Egypt is a fascinating place to visit. All that history. Besides, I like fish, leeks, melons, onions and cucumbers as much as the next guy. But – and here is where we get ourselves into trouble – if God says, “Don’t go back to Egypt,” then don’t go back to Egypt! You’ve been there before. God has rescued you from that prison of hopelessness. Why do you want to go back?
The words used in the NIV rendering of Isaiah 30:1 are “obstinate children.” We are stubborn. We think know what we need. Moreover, we think we know what we want., when we want it, where we want it, and how we want it served. And we get restless when life doesn’t go our way. But, as Christians, Paul points out the reality of our (assumed) independence:
17 Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 21 Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. 24 So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God. – 1 Corinthians 7:17-24 (ESV)
“I thought we had freedom in Christ…” We do. Freedom from sin. Freedom from hell. Freedom from worry and doubt and fear. Freedom to do what God has called us to do (which is really not as complicated as we often make it, but that’s another article). Freedom to be claim every promise of God and cling to every word of Jesus Christ with great confidence. Freedom to know that, whatever our current circumstances, they are not our permanent circumstances, because we are now God’s children, we are saved and cleansed by the work of Jesus Christ, completed on the cross for all of us. So, do not confuse “freedom” from “independence.” While we are free, we are not independent.
So… what do we do? What is the answer to our dilemma? How do we find rest from our trials, relief from our burdens? “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…’” (Isaiah 30:15a, NIV). The answer is faith. With God, everything has purpose. Even our circumstances. There is no situation so lousy, no pain so intense, no trouble so uncomfortable, that the Lord cannot use it to bring Him glory. Maybe God has you at that lousy job because of the positive influence you have on a co-worker. Maybe you haven’t been healed because someone else has the same disease and needs you to inspire them through Christ. Maybe you were meant to meet the tow truck driver who is hooking up the car you just wrecked. Who knows what God’s purposes are? Often we figure it out later, so have faith.
Whatever you are facing today, have faith in Jesus. Let God be your hope. Your situation is not hopeless. You are not hopeless. If in debt, don’t go to the casino. If in doubt, don’t go to another “god.” If in pain, don’t go to the bar or the dealer or the medicine cabinet. If afraid, don’t run to the comforts of your past. "Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isaiah 30:18, NIV).
Whatever you do, don’t go back to Egypt. The momentary “relief” isn’t worth the eternal price. When feeling weary or tired or unsure or confused or tempted or hurting, don’t run for the nearest pleasure to narcotize the pain. Run to your prayer closet. Run to the Word of God. Run to Jesus. KNOW that He hears you. KNOW He has a plan for you. You may not feel it, but don’t rely on fickle feelings. You may not hear Him, but don’t rely on faulty self. KNOW that God is with you, and you are eternally safe and secure in His capable and willing arms. And, in Christ, find your peace, your direction, your equipping, your comfort, your joy.