In this next installment of "Perfect Peace - Hope for the Weary Soul," we're going to look at something almost every believer in the US probably struggles with to some extent. Some to a great extent. Let's start looking at this passage in Isaiah that should get us right into it.
People who worry often have one thing in common: they have lots of thoughts.
Consider your present situation, the one that concerns you the most (the thing you’re always thinking about). How many thoughts have you had about it? Dozens, hundreds?
For some time I’ve been seeking to become simpler in my outlook on life, and far more dependent on God than on myself. But a while ago I discovered a basic problem, an inner conflict between that desire and the man I had become.
I had become someone who thinks way too much.
I think too much and pray too little. Hours in thought, minutes in prayer. That was me.
The sheer volume of thoughts I’d pile up trying to figure out solutions to my problems revealed whose mind and whose thoughts I trusted in the most. Mine. But I also realized, many of my problems were too big to think my way out of. And looking back, many of the solutions I came up with just made matters worse. They left me weary and more fearful as I stood gazing into an uncertain future.
But this promise in Isaiah 55:8 brings good news. God also has thoughts, many thoughts, about the very situations that perplex us. His thoughts and His ways (what He does with His thoughts) are not just a little different than ours. God says, they are not the same at all.
We don’t think like He does or do things the way He does.
But there’s more. God’s thoughts and ways are infinitely higher than ours. The gap between our ideas and His are as high as the heavens are above the earth.
That’s no small gap.
God feels no stress as He manages the wonders of a universe. I feel stress as I ponder an unpaid bill. As I pondered this gap between God’s wisdom and mine, I realized why I found it hard to trust in God’s thoughts and ways, and often prefer my own (foolish as that may be).
God’s ways seem much slower than mine.
Whatever my situation, I can usually think of a handful of things that, if done right away, would fix my problem. If I were God, I’d do those few things right now and solve this problem immediately.
But that’s not what happens.
I don’t have the power to pull off what I’m thinking and God refuses to cooperate. So my problem continues, far longer than I think it should. I do pray, at least some. But then I look for an instant breakthrough. When it doesn’t come, I’m tempted to stop praying and start thinking some more. More of my thoughts, not His.
Once as I prayed and pondered this passage, I believe the Holy Spirit began to speak to me about God’s apparent slowness. I realized that God’s ways are slower because He takes all the necessary details into account in His solutions. I may think of 3 things that need to happen. If God would just do these 3 things, my trial could be over. But God sees 30 things (or maybe 300 things) that need to happen. His thoughts are perfect and His ways are, as well.
Now might be a good time to mention the "Slow Children at Play" sign. When I used to see this sign, it seemed like it was an insult to children, rather than a warning to motorists. That's because it doesn't appear to have any pause after the word "Slow" (it intends to tell motorists to slow down, because children are at play around here). We might think the sign should read, "Slow God at Work."
But God’s plan only seems slower because God is infinitely wise…and we are not. When we look back at other situations God has rescued us from, we can plainly see this is true. We see His wisdom unveiled and vindicated. We see dozens of things God caused or allowed to happen―things we had never considered―that resulted in just the right solution to our dilemma.
We see things that, at the time, appeared to show God either not paying attention to our troubles or moving way too slow. Here's a prayer that might help get our thoughts a little more in sync with His:
Lord, today I defer to your wisdom and thank You for the evidences of grace already visible in this situation. I thank you even more for the promises in Your Word and Your abounding patience toward me. And for all the testimonies of past situations where Your faithfulness has passed every test. Help me to trust you fully in this new situation and release it completely into Your capable hands. Help me to pray more about this throughout the day, and think less. In Jesus’ name, Amen.