Finding Rest

“In returning and rest you shall be saved” (Isaiah 30:15)

All of the attributes that God has given to mankind have been corrupted in their application and use. Making alliances is one of them. Even very young children make informal alliances in order to feel safer. Some of these are, or may become, genuine friendships. The alliances we often call friendships will not stand the tests of adversity or affliction that life brings whereas genuine friendships will. “Fair weather” friends are alliances that collapse under the pressure of personal cost.

Like most nations of the world, Israel made alliances with other nations for reasons of safety and protection. They had been specifically commanded by the Lord not to make any alliance, especially with Egypt. Alliances may give the feeling of safety but history shows that they are unreliable. Egypt did not protect Israel from Babylon and was itself overrun. How many of the great alliances of old have lasted? Is there a person more than a few years old who has not been let down by a “fair weather” friend?

The medical world tells us that family and faithful friends are an extremely important element in the recovery of a patient. God has made us with the need of mutual support. He has also made us with the need of a friend who we know will remain faithful no matter the circumstance. In the hymn, “What a Friend we have in Jesus” we sing:

“Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

“Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

“In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
You will find a solace there.”

Further on in this chapter of Isaiah (vv 15-20) we have the Lord appealing to Israel as the father does in the parable of Jesus we call “the Parable of the Prodigal Son” (Luke 15:11-32). We see Him eagerly waiting, full of grace (vv 18, 19), for Israel to return and rest in Him (v 15). He has the same attitude toward people even today.

To whom do we go for advice and counsel (vv 1, 2)? The answer that most people would offer is that they go to the worldly experts. We want expert opinion but frequently expert opinion changes. It is most sad when people who call themselves Christians do not seek counsel or advice from the Lord (the only true “expert”) but seek it from the experts of this world.

As the father of the prodigal son waited, so the Lord is waiting to pour out His grace on all who call out to Him in faith. “He will be very gracious to you (vv 18, 19).” This is to say, His cup of grace is overflowing toward the one who comes to Him. He may have sent “the bread of adversity” and “the water of affliction” but only so as to bring us to the place where we return to Him to receive the outpouring of His love and grace.