Monday, February 27, 2012

God’s Stress Plan

We live in a stressful world that seems to make impossible demands on our lives. This affects everything from our mood, to how we relate to our families and, most importantly, how we relate to God. God knows how we are because he made us. He knows we need to relieve stress; that is why he gave us a stress plan. There are many places in God’s Word where he tells us how to deal with stress, and here is one that has meant so much to me.

Isaiah 30:15 “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, but you would have none of it.”

The secret to this plan is to develop a quiet time in your life where you learn to trust God. This quietness, in time, will become a way of life. It’s God’s offer that, if we abandon all other hope but him and disbelieve every other truth but his, he will be our strength. Notice, however, the last few words of the verse “but you would have none of it.” How do we refuse God’s offer? Well, we do it all the time. Every time we hurry into a business decision without consulting him or every time we form a new relationship and leave him out we do it. Every time we think we can find our own happiness apart from God we do it.[i]

Judah said, “No thanks God. We will ride off on swift horses” (Isa. 30:16). How many times do we ride off in the opposite direction of God’s offer in search of our own solutions?  God warns Judah that their search would be futile and would end up in loneliness “like a flagstaff on a mountaintop.” I’ve done it plenty of times, and I’ve felt the loneliness of abandoning God’s offer of meeting with me. We often ride off in search of self-validation, but that is not what we really need. What we really long for is God-validation.

I am encouraged to see the next verse because it tells me that despite the fact that I may have refused God’s offer of communion, he still waits for me to come back. In fact, God longs to be gracious to me.”

Isa 30:18 “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!”

Join me this week as I take God up on his offer to relieve my stress as I quietly talk to him and trust him. When I do, I receive strength for weakness and victory for surrender. God, give me a quiet spirit that completely trusts you. Thanks, God, for being so gracious.

[i] Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr. Isaiah (Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL 2005) p. 169.

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