Monday, December 31, 2012

From Worrier to Warrior

If there's one thing I'm good at, it's worrying. I'm not alone in this skill, though I can't say I'm in good company, since this isn't a "good" place to be.

In Isaiah 7, we find a king who shared my problem. He just found out some of his enemies planned to attack, and he was off worrying. I notice that King Ahaz didn't go to God, but God didn't give up on him. Instead, he sent Isaiah to Ahaz's precise location to tell Ahaz to stop worrying. To paraphrase, God says the invasion will never happen but then the passage ends with this: "Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm" (7:9, NLT). In the next passage, Isaiah invites King Ahaz to ask the Lord for a sign to confirm the Lord's faithfulness. This tells me that Ahaz was probably still worrying. King Ahaz refuses. My study Bible points out that by that time, Ahaz had likely already taken matters into his own hands; he asked the king of another nation to come help him out with the nations that were threatening him. King Ahaz's plan worked... until the king that came to help him also decided he wanted to take over Ahaz's kingdom.

The notes in my study Bible link Ahaz with King Hezekiah, Ahaz's son, who faced similar circumstances, but who responded well. Since I'm interested in responding well when worry attacks, I flipped forward to Isaiah 36 where the king of Assyria is threatening Hezekiah's kingdom. And boy, does Assyria talk big! Isaiah 37:1 says, "When King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes and put on burlap and went into the Temple of the Lord." Ha! Instead of wandering off, leaving God's servant to have to go hunt him down and tell him to stop worrying, Hezekiah goes straight to God, and God sends him an encouraging answer: "Do not be disturbed by the blasphemous speech against me from the Assyrian king's messengers. Listen! I myself will move against him" (37:6-7, NLT).

Well, the Assyrians kept threatening, and Hezekiah went back to God, and God promised deliverance again. And then, he did it. (See Isaiah 37:36-38.) But Hezekiah's faith walk was even more personal than the state and safety of his nation. Isaiah 38 tells the story of a time when Hezekiah's health was failing. Isaiah, God's prophet, told Hezekiah that God said he's going to die. Yikes! God's prophet says you're going to die? I guess it's time to give up, right?

No way! Instead of drowning in worry and despair, instead of trying to get the prophet to say it ain't so, Hezekiah does just what he always does when he's tempted to worry: he goes straight to God. He prays, "Remember, O Lord, how I have always been faithful to you and have served you single-mindedly, always doing what pleases you." (Isaiah 38:3, NLT) Funny that he doesn't actually ask God to extend his life or heal him. God knows what he needs, though, and he delivers. Isaiah comes back with a new word from God, saying, "I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will add fifteen years to your life" (38:5, NLT).

So, what can us worriers learn from this?

No matter who's telling us what, our first reaction needs to be to go to God. In fact, no matter how bleak it looks or how many times we're threatened, we need to keep going back to God. He knows what we need, but we need to do our part by relying on him and continuing to have faith. Trying to solve our own problems will not lead to lasting solutions. Only God can extend life and rescue us, and God is sensitive to our prayers. Our part is to remember and act on the warning he gave Ahaz: "Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm."

Your Sister

1 comment:

  1. I really like that word to Ahaz: Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.

    Thanks for sharing! God bless and Happy New Year in advance!

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