For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)
In Isaiah’s day, Judah feared Assyria. Rather than turning to God they turned to Egypt for help and protection.
You can hardly blame them. Assyria was a real threat – they were evil, violent, and hated Judah. And Egypt was there ready to help. They could call on a real nation with weapons and horses and chariots who would be right there to take on their enemies. God was – well he was invisible. He might be there, he might not. He might help, he might not. He might hear our prayers… if he is real, that is. So who do we rely on? A God who might be there or a nation who’s right there, polishing their chariots, strapping on their swords?
We may shake our heads at Judah’s foolishness, but so often we do the same thing.
Rather than trusting in God, we trust our own wits. We desperately look around us for some earthly means of relief or escape. Or we simply give in to worry. Our minds scramble from one possible solution to another – “Let’s see, if this happens, I can do that. And if this other thing happens, I can take this detour. But what if it’s door #3? What will I do then?”… and on and on go our frantic thoughts.
It’s hard to trust. It’s hard to put your life in somebody else’s hands. Years ago some friends and I climbed a small cliff then rappelled down. It was my first time to rappel, and my friend tied a rope around a tree and instructed me to hold the rope, lean backwards over the cliff, and launch myself into the air. I have to admit, I was scared. I realized at that moment that my safety was completely dependent on my friend’s ability to tie a knot. Did I trust him?
God told Judah that trusting in Egypt wouldn’t save them. He said “Here’s how to be saved: Return to me – repent – and rest in me. It is in quieting your soul and trusting in me that you will find your strength.”
And that’s what God tells us: Repent of trusting other things. Repent of worrying and fretting. Repent of unbelief. And rest in Jesus. Come to him. Cast your cares on him because he cares for you. You don’t need much faith – Jesus can work with a mustard seed’s worth. Tell Jesus you believe, and ask him to help your unbelief.
And trust him. Pray, then tell him you trust him. Ask, then thank him that he will be faithful. Thank him for hearing your prayers. Thank him that he has assured you the prayer of the upright is powerful and effective. And wait. And pray some more. Pray on the drive to work. Pray any time an anxious thought shows its ugly face.
So who are you going to trust – Egypt or the living God? Horses and chariots or the Commander of the hosts of heaven? Your own ability to figure it out, or the One who upholds the universe with his word?
If you have looked to other things besides Jesus for relief, return to him. In quietness and trust is your strength.
Mark Altrogge serves as a pastor at Sovereign Grace Church. Find out more at The Blazing Center.
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Mark Altrogge has been senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, Pennsylvania, since 1982. He has written hundreds of songs for worship, including “I Stand in Awe” and “I’m Forever Grateful.” Mark and his wife, Kristi, have four sons and one daughter.
Find out more on his blog, The Blazing Center.