Last weekend, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of young women at Compass Bible Church about how to be content in a chaotic world. Over the next several days, I will be sharing parts of this message here. You can also listen to it in it is entirety online by clicking here.
Growing up my dad liked to keep a list of the funny things that people unintentionally say. It was his own version of “Kids Say the Darndest Things” – except instead of Bill Cosby interviewing a bunch of random kids, these were funny things that my dad’s own kids had said. One of the favorites, spoken by yours truly is when I ran back home after venturing out the front door, and excitedly told my parents “I saw a brown dog….with ears.” As opposed to all those brown dogs I saw without ears. Another family favorite was when my sister told my dad in the midst of an argument, “I’m a junior higher; it’s my job to make your life tough.”
Eventually these and other funny quotations were compiled on to a list and hung in my dad’s office. Along with the funny things his kids had said, he added some favorite movie lines and even some of his own contributions. Like when he, as a young boy said, “I’m going to join the navy because I’m tired of everybody telling me what to do.” Apparently, although my dad was the son of a Marine, he hadn’t yet realized that in the armed forces, there is always somebody who is telling you what to do.
However, just like the younger version of my dad, often times we are discontent with where we are. We want something other than what we have because we think that will be better, even though we don’t really know what that will be like. But God does know. So our challenge then is to trust Him with the future. And to rejoice in where He has planted us today.
We can understand how to do that better by studying Isaiah 26:3 which says:
When Isaiah is writing in a time where there is political and spiritual turmoil. The nation of Israel had divided into two kingdoms. During Isaiah’s lifetime the Northern Kingdom would fall to the Assyrian Empire, and although they would resist the attack, it looked as if the Southern Kingdom might too. The political struggle was complemented by a spiritual decline in the fervor and faithfulness of their commitment to God.
Isaiah writes this passage knowing that eventually the Southern Kingdom of Judah would also be destined to exile. And he writes it knowing that the Israelites need to remember and be faithful to the covenant they have with God in order to withstand the turmoil they are currently in, and the turmoil they would face in the days to come.
So in time of chaos, when the nation of Israel will once again be taken captive, this passage serves as instructions for how the Israelites can be content.
The first thing that this passage demonstrates is that just because the world is chaotic, doesn’t mean you have to be. It says “You” – meaning God, “keep him in perfect peace”.
The word kept is elsewhere translated preserved. In Psalm 32:7 it says, “You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah”
That word translated here “preserve” is the same word that we see in our passage translated “kept” So just like we preserve fruit to be used at a later date, God is keeping us in the midst of tough circumstances.
Kept means ( according to Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary (2003)) “to watch over and defend 〈keep us from harm; to take care of : tend 〈keep a garden〉; (2) : support; (3) : to maintain in a good, fitting, or orderly condition — usually used with up.”
If we are honest, the reason that we struggle with contentment is because we worry about maintaining our lives. But this verse demonstrates to us that it’s not our job to maintain. God is going to maintain it for us.
For most of us, we trust the care of our car, to another. Sure we put gas in it, and we wash it, but when it comes to the details – the oil change, and the tire rotation, and the transmission, we leave that into the care of another. Because they are the experts, we’re not.
God is the expert of your life.
We think we are, but that’s as foolish as it would be for most of us to try to fix our own transmission.
So just like we trust the care of our car to another, so we need to trust our lives in the hands of the One who has expertise in maintaining it.
We need to to rest in our Father’s care.