Isaiah 48:22 “There is no peace for the wicked.”
Our world is in constant turmoil. There is no lasting peace for many. This is not of God’s choosing. Mankind prefers to go his own way. Matthew Henry writes about those of Isaiah’s day; “God did not afflict them willingly. If their sins had not turned them away, their peace should have been always flowing and abundant. Spiritual enjoyments are ever joined with holiness of life and regard to God’s will. It will make the misery of the disobedient the more painful, to think how happy they might have been.”
Sadly, misery loves company. Living in the world of the miserable can take it’s toll on Christians. Paul wrote with great encouragement when he described the resilience of God’s people; “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed . . . .” (2 Corinthians 4:8) Following Jesus isn’t a guarantee of an easy life but rather a life of overcoming; “. . . in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
God provides and protects his people in the face of even the gravest threats of harm. This doesn’t mean that we have false confidence that the worst won’t happen to us. Our confidence is on God’s power and agency in the world. Like Daniel’s friends when they faced their own terrible destruction in a fiery furnace there is peace in taking a stand; “. . . our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17,18)
When God is with us and we believe it with no doubt or hesitancy, we stand with Him no matter what the personal cost. For followers of Jesus that means death and the cross in thousands of small daily ways and eventually crossing over to our true home. In all cases dying means living; “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26)
The misery of this wicked world is living without meaning and purpose. Living only to grow softer, more indolent and pampered in the sure and certain knowledge that sickness and death will eventually take everything and leave you with nothing. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in his book – The Brothers Karamazov wrote; “The world says: ‘You have needs — satisfy them. You have as much right as the rich and the mighty. Don’t hesitate to satisfy your needs; indeed, expand your needs and demand more.’ This is the worldly doctrine of today. And they believe that this is freedom. The result for the rich is isolation and suicide, for the poor, envy and murder.” How true!
Living in the Light of faith, even if our candle is small, broken and dirty, the flame that doesn’t come from us, gives our life meaning and purpose. The warmth and light from the Holy fire God kindles in even the most timid heart burns bright and drives back the cold. The apostle Paul reminds us that God’s love extends to the farthest reaches; “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38,39)
Jesus is that light; “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12) In Him we have peace!
Come Lord Jesus!