For thus said the Lord, GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”- Isaiah 30:15
The many voices surrounding us scream often about the strength of man. “The strength of man is to be found in physical ability!” “The strength of man is to be found in being your own man, in being self made and successful!” “The strength of man is to found in rationality and reason, in confidence in who you are and what you can figure out!” “The strength of man is to be found in having plans for the future, in having the right friends, in having the perfect house or the perfect job!” And this really sums them all up, “The strength of man is to be found within, amongst the desires, dreams, certainties, and passions of yourself.” I hear these voices often, not necessarily audibly, but subtlety through what our culture prizes, through the movie messages, on the billboards, and from commercials. But sometimes, if I listen closely, I hear these statements coming quietly but surely from the church. The question is begging to be answered, what does it mean to be strong?
For those who have tried the statements above, who have placed their trust in the solid ground of the world, we know these just don’t work. In the midst of our physical strength we find spiritual weakness and uncertainty. In making our own plans and dreams we often discover that they fail and mock us as they burn away. In our successes we find our souls still wanting, still desiring, not satisfied with what we have, not finding in what we own the true, solid ground on which to stand. In our rationality we often find contradiction, and within ourselves we often find no certainty. To whom or to what shall we turn to find this certainty, to find solidness, to find strength?
Isaiah can call us to repentance, to rest, to quietness, and to trust, because God alone is certainty, He alone is strength, and we have trusted in ourselves. God alone is both spiritually and physically strong. His divine plans are the only ones that succeed and come to fruition. In Him alone are inexhaustible fountains of living joy, and He alone is Reason, the Logos, the true measure of absolute truth and the standard of all that is. It is folly to trust in anything but Him, that is why we need to repent. It is ridiculous to attempt to find strength for this life elsewhere but in Him. That is why He calls us to rest. Our thoughts, schemes, and initiatives to secure strength and certainty for ourselves only cloud the truth of who He is and aid us to ruin. This is why He calls us to quietness and ultimately to trust. This is a sobering truth; God alone can be trusted, He alone can be rested upon, for He alone is strong.
Where can man find strength? He alone is strong who has renounced himself to trust completely in the sovereign, merciful, and gracious God who has provided strength and perseverance in the person and work of Jesus Christ. We find unlimited strength when, moment by moment, we return from our own sin to rest in the work of the Christ. In closing our mouths, in waiting, and in trusting in His goodness we find the hope to keep going, the strength to keep fighting, and the perseverance to run with endurance for the glory of His name. This is the strength of men; the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel.
It is enough today to return to Him. It enough today to rest in Him. It is enough today to shut my mouth and stop trying to figure things out. It is enough today to trust Him.