“Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.” (Isaiah 7:9b NLT)
Friend to Friend
I woke up frustrated and discouraged after a battle with worry in the middle of the night. Don’t laugh when I tell you what I was obsessing over because it seems so ridiculous in hindsight. My highly allergic daughters had just convinced my husband and I to allow them to buy pet birds since cats and dogs made them sick. I laid awake fretting about the smell in our house, the annoying sounds the birds made, and then imagined ways to get rid of them without breaking my daughters’ hearts.
Looking back, I can’t believe how overfocused I became on something that wasn’t that important in the grand scheme of life. This worry, fear, and fixating on small problems that I blow out of proportion has been a perennial problem for me. Whether our fears are overblown or completely appropriate because life has thrown us some curveballs, most of us struggle to find peace in the midst of our problems.
The prophet Isaiah recorded God’s messages in an Old Testament book that gives us hope that we can make internal choices that lead to peace when we face worrisome external forces.
There was a king reigning over the kingdom of Judah named King Ahaz who faced threats from two countries. One of these was Judah’s own family. Israel was the northern kingdom made of ten tribes that separated from Judah after Solomon’s reign. Israel teamed up with the pagan nation of Syria to come against Judah. Sometimes when our pain comes from unexpected places – like family, friends, or a church or job we thought was safe – our fears can feel magnified.
You likely don’t have two armies teaming up against you, but I wonder what you could identify as a current challenge coming from external forces. What stressors are threatening your peace right now? Thankfully, now that my twins are in college, I am no longer stressing over their pets’ noises and smells. However, I find that the problems my adult children face often keep me up at night. We all have challenges from external forces whether they are happening directly to us or impacting us through the people we love.
Maybe your situation has nothing to do with children, but perhaps a medical diagnosis, financial crisis, or relational conflict has left you feeling like the people of Judah – shaking in a storm. So, what do we do when we feel the impact of outside forces tossing us about in life? The Bible says, “Do not fear.”
In Isaiah 7, we find the prophet delivering a message to King Ahaz instructing him to stop worrying. “Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm” (Isaiah 7:9 NLT).
“Do not fear” is a command issued often throughout Scripture. Philippians 4:6 tells us to “be anxious for nothing.” That sounds so good, but how do we do that? Like when we can’t sleep, can’t stop recycling our thoughts and emotions, or feel like peace is a luxury we aren’t afforded in our marriages, our jobs, our finances, our health situations, and so on? One commentator summarized God’s instruction to stand firm in faith as “trust or bust!”
When I choose not to trust, I often revert to worry, excessive planning, or complaining about the problem to others. I could definitely put all those in the “bust” category! Instead, we can rely on God’s strength to obey commands like “stop worrying,” “don’t fear,” and “have faith,” even when life is scary. We can find perfect peace when we fix our thoughts on Him. I hope that no matter what type of challenge you are facing today, you can find peace in knowing that God loves you and longs to be your defender!
Lord, You are the only pathway to peace. Forgive me for looking for peace in other places. My illusions of safety don’t begin to compare with You. I desire a firmer faith that knows how to stop worrying when I feel shaken by the storms of life. Remind me of who You are again and again as I fix my thoughts on You.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
What are some practical ways to fix your thoughts on the Lord when you find yourself shaken by external forces?
More from the Girlfriends
Check out Melissa’s new Bible study titled Isaiah: Striving Less and Trusting God More for an in-depth study of the book of Isaiah.
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