Meditations for Troubled Times
“In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul. My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:8-9)
In Isaiah 26, the faithful were encouraged to sing a song about how the LORD would preserve them through the difficulties of life. They were simply to trust God and worship him, regardless of how bad things were. Yet, Isaiah 26:8-9 tells us something else was required. If you were on a long journey with dangers all around, what would you need? Certainly, safety and protection, but also sustenance and nourishment. Or, we might say satisfaction. And that is what the remnant needed here. It’s what we need in the face of our tribulations. But what kind of satisfaction? Verse 8 says the people were waiting. For what? “O LORD, we wait for you.” The stress is, “We wait for God.” And this is an intensive kind of waiting. It’s not casual. It’s not indifferent. It’s devout, deep, and desperate. Verse 8 also says, “…your name and your remembrance are the desire of our soul.” It’s the LORD they were eager for, because only he could ultimately satiate them. This so moved Isaiah that he cried out, “My soul yearns for you in the night.” The prophet was taken up with God. He had a desirous determination to seek him through thick and thin.
This is the same kind of waiting spirit which characterized John Newton amidst all kinds of turmoil. When he lost his wife of 40 years, Newton said, “The world seemed to die with her.” And yet still, he could sing, “How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear! It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, and drives away his fear. It makes the wounded spirit whole and calms the troubled breast; ‘tis manna to the hungry soul, and to the weary rest.” How could this be Newton’s song when things were so miserable? He knew Psalm 107:9—that the LORD “satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Our problem is that we look in the wrong place for lasting satisfaction. As we experience the pains of life, we turn to the wrong things to help us. We turn to wealth, power, achievement, family, and entertainment.
In doing so, we show that our yearning for the LORD is shallow. It’s not fervent, or we have zeal for God, but only in fits and starts. We’re like a broken weed eater; we go hard and fast but then sputter and die. The reason is because we try to find enduring satisfaction outside the LORD, which only leads to a fizzling faith. However, in Isaiah 26:8-9, we are being challenged to quit trying to nourish ourselves elsewhere, and, instead, come to God. Wait upon him. Above all, desire Christ, our redeemer and friend. Sincerely say, “Jesus is lovelier than ten thousand loves. And I want him!” And declare it to be so despite the doldrums of life.