Today I am taking in the blessing of sunshine on a cold midwinter’s day and savoring the hint of spring such a day brings. I do that even though crocuses are still deep underground and no hint of green shows on the branches of our forsythia bush.
My hope is not in what I see, but faith in the memory of other springs as well as Who created them. Today they have adjusted my thoughts caught up in the discouraging news that pummels me from every corner of the world.
It seems that nearly everyone I speak with speaks with concern about what is happening in so many places in the world. It doesn’t take long in such conversations to start to feel agitated or even fearful. It is a temptation to see no light in the darkness growing larger on the horizon.
If no light is seen, perhaps it is because we are not looking for light in the right places.
I am currently reading in the book of Isaiah as a result of a sermon series on this Old Testament book. I am struck by the reality of how dark the world was that Isaiah was living in. Yes, darkness was there in abundance, but Isaiah also pointed to the future coming of the Messiah even though he was writing between 750-700 BC.
I cannot help, but read the prophet’s words and not think of the world as it is in 2017 and see the possibility of a corollary.
What were the problems the people of God were facing back then? Rather than get caught up in the specifics of the kings (good and not good) and their friends and/or enemies, I want to look at the truth of the problems behind the problems. What were the people looking toward that deepened their darkness?
God’s people were trusting in the wrong things.
They were trusting in other kings. They had turned their back on God and determined to trust instead in the chariots and horsemen of Egypt. Later they entered into alliances with Assyria and then Babylon to help them despite how ungodly and misaligned they were from these godless nations.
They had also begun trusting in other gods, things produced by their own hands. Idolatry was rampant. It was easier to trust in what they could buy or make than to trust in the Lord.
To these they added trust in themselves. In short, they had become self-reliant. Perhaps it was their pride in their own wealth or skills, their reputation or past success that built up this over estimation of what they alone could do or accomplish.
The people of God had also chosen to seek the voice of their leaders before seeking the voice of the Lord. Their trust was in the kings and leaders they had asked God for so long before, rather than in the Lord.
On top of all this, they had not humbled themselves nor repented of their faithlessness.
Yet God loved them so much, He chose to allow everything to be shaken they had trusted in so they could come face-to-face with the unshakeable.
I wonder if that is not true of us today.
Could it be that we have trusted more in governments and leaders of all types and persuasions, programs and treaties from one end of the earth to another, drones and technical equipment beyond our imagination, words of men more than words from God?
What I see ever more clearly is that darkness has been a reality for many years and many eras, to think or believe otherwise is to operate in denial. Before you reject that idea, consider the sense of darkness that pervaded the entire world through two deadly world wars. We can glance over our shoulder and see clearly that example.
For us, even as in Isaiah’s lifetime, there was light ahead that could be seen for those who looked and trusted in God more than in any of the things they had begun to trust.
The shaking seasons of our lives have often ultimately gifted us with the surest sense of the Lord’s goodness and trustworthiness.
Major Daniel Webster Whittle served during the bloody American Civil War, a time of great darkness in the United States. But years later, the light of the gospel and the influence of Dwight L. Moody resulted in the lyrics of 200 hymns flowing from his life. One of his refrain’s many of us still knows was written in 1883:
But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”
When I look for light in the midst of darkness when everything is being shaken, I am reminded He is allowing it to reveal to me what is unshakeable.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.” Ps. 20:7-8 ESV