Life does not stop spinning. One week’s issues roll into the next, and if they happen to be resolved, new problems take their place. The grass never seems to turn out greener. The next move, new job, special someone, old friends, they fail to fill the void. The soul becomes an insatiable vacuum.
How are we to survive in this chaotic life that keeps on spinning, spiraling us into a confused muddle of dissatisfaction and emptiness?
The afflicted will eat and be satisfied; Those who seek the LORD will praise him, “May you live forever!
For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes.
He has satisfies the longing soul, And the hungry soul He fills with good things.
And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
These promises feel beyond our reach. These verses appear barren, even false at times when we are our weakest. We even read them in distain because it seems these statements have excluded us. We feel alone, tired, and beyond aid.
How do we emerge from this slough of despond? How do we to rise, a rose from ashes? The Bible doesn’t leave us guessing. Backing up in Isaiah 58, let’s allow God’s word be the ‘how to.’
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am ‘ If you remove the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday. And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
#1 Call, Cry, Seek
How often do you actually bring your plight to His feet? How often do you voice your deepest struggle? Do you daily ask for contentment? If we call He will answer, if we cry He will make His presence known, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7.
Let’s start with asking.
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, My lips will praise you. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
#2 Lose the Yoke
A yoke is something that holds you back, brings you down, and can cause you to stumble. Obviously, we live in a fallen world where sin, brokenness, and filth are everywhere. We are called to live in the world while remembering we are not of it. The bible isn’t telling us to be hermits and avoid emerging from our cushy existence among other believers in a controlled environment. We are called to do hard things in difficult places; however, sometimes in our lives there is one person, one situation, one problem that reoccurs over and over slowly destroying us. I believe this is what God is referring to.
Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
There comes a point where certain yokes must be left behind.
#3 Ditch the Blame Game
“It’s my stupid stressful job,” “It’s where we live,” “It’s my wild children,” “It’s my back pain,” “It’s my coworkers,” “It’s my in-laws,” “It’s my homework load,” “it’s my immature husband,” “It’s, It’s, It’s.” We like assigning our frustration, sadness, and/or discontent to something outside ourselves, but as my dad always says, “no one can make you angry, that’s something you allow.” These external problems do not have to define where you are spiritually and emotionally, you have a choice. You have a Rock to lean on for support.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
He will aid you in controlling your emotions.
#4 Live Unselfishly
The devil uses our busy schedules and hectic lives to deceive us into thinking our own problems are all we can handle. We don’t have the energy to pour time, effort, or compassion into other people; as a result, we become utterly consumed with ourselves. The truth is, if we would tear our eyes away from our own issues and put them on others, we would find ourselves obeying both of the greatest commandments.
And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
When we do not live this way, we are sinning and need to repent. But when we choose to love others sacrificially, and do it out of love for God, we fulfill the most important job He gave us to do. People will notice, see Christ in us, and their eternity will be affected, which is a much better use of time than sitting around worrying and complaining about ourselves.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
#5 Choose Joy
This point isn’t in Isaiah 58, but it is all over the Bible. According to Pollyanna, there are 800 glad passages in the Bible, and they are not just fluff and flowers. We are flat out commanded to be joyful.
Philippians 4:4, 6-9
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplications with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable [paraphrased], if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me- practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Joy isn’t a spontaneous sensation; it is something we obtain by choosing what we fill our minds with and in whom we place our trust. If our thoughts are consumed with His glorious salvation, infinite sovereignty, abundant blessings, and unending faithfulness, we will find joy and peace. Control your thoughts.
We can find contentment in this wild world, despite all the sin and pain, because Christ is here too. He is reining in the world. He is ruling in our very souls. Seek Him “then your light will rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday.”
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
[All emphasis added]