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.
You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
…Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!—Isaiah 30:15-18
In Isaiah chapter 30, God rebukes Israel for something most of us do every single day: trying to solve our own problems. What’s wrong with that? Well, in Israel’s case, it was wrong because God had explicitly told them not to go running to Egypt for help against their enemies. Egypt was the nation where they used to live as slaves. Egypt was pagan, worshiping all sorts of false Gods and influencing others to do the same. And Egypt was self-serving: if they offered to “help” you, you can bet there would be a heavy price to pay later.
But Egypt had horses. Egypt had a powerful army. And God’s people were desperate. The Assyrians were conquering every nation in their path, and Israel was next on the list. Egypt was promising friendship and protection. Accepting their help only made sense. It’s what anyone else would have done. Meanwhile, what was God’s solution to their problem? He wasn’t telling. His only instructions were these: Wait, and trust Me.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t wait very well. I am a problem-solver. When a problem arises, I immediately begin weighing my options and trying to work out the best solution. It doesn’t usually occur to me that one option is to not even try to solve the problem, but just to wait on God. I mean, who does that? It feels lazy. Doesn’t God want me to work hard, do my best, and not burden him unnecessarily if I can handle something myself?
But what I call being responsible, God sometimes calls being faithless. What Satan wants to call laziness, God calls trust. Yes, God values hard work, but He values faith even more. He really, really wants us to trust Him. If I go about solving my problems in exactly the same way as a non-believer, how can I say I’m living by faith?
What this means is that there will be times, when I’m faced with a problem that’s bigger than me, where the most God-pleasing thing I could do would be to stop trying to solve and start learning to trust. It means I will look that problem in the eye and say, “I have no solution, but I believe that God will take care of things,” and then go to bed and sleep in peace, because God is awake, and He’s working on it. I confess I don’t do that very often. Even when I pray about things, I usually continue to act like finding the solution is up to me. I’m deeply challenged by these words: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” Ouch.
And here’s the embarrassing part: the path I’m choosing is actually the harder one! God offers us the opportunity to experience His peace; He says “let me give you rest, quietness, and trust,” and we say, “No thank you, I’d rather carry the burden myself. I’d rather wallow in anxiety.” We do this out of pride, because we feel better about ourselves if we are the heroes of our own story, rather than being charity cases who need God’s help to get by.
So we run to Egypt. Maybe I can find a way to get a little more money. May I can manipulate/pressure/threaten/bribe that person into doing what I want. Maybe if I work a little harder. Maybe if I just hide in this addiction for a while. And all the time God is saying, “Wait. Trust me. You don’t have to have the answer, you just have to have faith. Those empty solutions will bring you nothing but trouble later. Why not just trust Me? I long to be gracious to you. I will rise up to show you compassion. I am a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for me!”
What is your Egypt? Are you trusting in horses, or in the God who made you, redeemed you, and loves you? Is He calling you to stop solving and rest this week?
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.—Psalm 20:7,8