Principle One: Look to God
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1).
The Bible is full of crises: the children of Israel fleeing from Pharoah’s army. Suddenly they are boxed in. The Red Sea on one side and Pharoah’s army on the other. That was a crisis. The disciples on the Sea of Galilee fighting numerous storms. Once Jesus slept in the boat while they feared for their lives. Another time Jesus walks out to them, like a ghost in the night. Jesus facing the cross was certainly a crisis.
In Isaiah, the nation of Israel faced a major crisis. King Uzziah’s death was more than a date on the calendar. The event represented a turning point, a crisis moment, a massive source of national distress.
King Uzziah reigned for four decades during a time of Judah’s peak and the nation enjoyed stability, peace, and prosperity. Uzziah conquered the Philistines towards the Mediterranean, the Amorites to the South, and the Edomites. He strengthened the walls of Jerusalem. He built a port city on the gulf of Akabah. He increased his nation’s water supply by digging wells and developing a system of aqueducts. (W. Randall Lolley, “Isaiah: I Saw the Lord,” Interpreting Isaiah for Preaching and Teaching, pp. 55-56).
About the time of Uzziah’s passing, Assyria’s power was on the rise. The nation was becoming a world power and a gigantic threat to the Judeans as the Assyrians strategized and schemed to expand their empire.
Roger Nam of Candler School of Theology pointed out, “The Assyrians were the most formidable army of all time with advanced weaponry, massive economic support, and a penchant for psychological warfare. In contrast, Jerusalem was a city with hastily erected defenses filled with refugees from the countryside and other captured cities.” (https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2989).
Thus begins Isaiah’s vision. “I saw the Lord . . .”
Here is a timely word for us. To say 2020 has been a challenging year is an understatement. Evolving news and daily developments about battling a worldwide pandemic have worn us out. After six months of this craziness, if you’re like me, you are “Covid-weary.” As data changes on a regular basis, many don’t know whom to believe and where to turn.
Yet, the battle rages on and we must stay safe while living without fear, following safety guidelines while living our life and considering others.
We also have to be careful not to misplace our focus. It’s easy to lose focus when there’s the perception that so much unravels around us. Our lives have undoubtedly been disrupted. Coronavirus has disrupted our church life. We’ve been sheltered at home. We can’t fellowship, hug, touch and greet like we’re used to. It’s easy to become discouraged when we focus on the circumstances instead of on our Lord. What did Isaiah say? “I saw the Lord . . .”
What did Paul say? Philippians 4:4 reads, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again, I say rejoice.” Our joy comes from Jesus, not from our spouse, our friends, our coworkers, not from our work, or our accumulated assets. Our joy comes from Jesus alone, but we must focus on Him alone.
Paul felt so strongly about this that he wrote this word as a command: rejoice! Then he repeated the command for emphasis! And remember Paul’s circumstances. Writing from prison probably in Rome, chained to a guard, definitely restricted and confined, Paul could have easily given in to despair.
Yet, he wrote about the joy he found in Jesus. Paul never complained, never asked, “Why is this happening to me?” He simply focused on Jesus.
Where is your focus today? Is it on how much your life has changed? How much your routine has been disrupted? Do you find yourself complaining about the restrictions and inconveniences or do you ask, “God, what are you trying to teach me during this time?” How are you allowing God to use you during this critical season?
Paul could not travel to visit and encourage fellow believers, but he could write letters of instruction and encouragement. He could not plant new churches, but he could witness to the guards chained to him. And he could pray for these believers and churches.
When crisis comes, is your first response looking to God?