You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock (Isaiah 26:3-4, ESV).
It’s been almost ten years since I was involved in Bible Study Fellowship, affectionately known as BSF. I was unemployed, hungry for Scripture study, and the opportunity to grow with a small group of women; BSF fit all of the niches I needed during that season. We studied Isaiah in depth, a “precept-upon-precept” kind of study.
I am still in contact with a number of the women I met during that season. I have cheered them on during their journeys and celebrated their milestones. My favorite part of those days included the richness of the fellowship, but above all, it was the time in the Bible that meant the most.
Strength comes from the Lord
The chapters in Isaiah were like having a muscle-building protein shake. I was building my spiritual muscles and learning how to stand strong in the midst of troubles. Each word and verse brought power to my soul.
The Message by Eugene Peterson says it this way, But you, Israel, are my servant. You’re Jacob, my first choice, descendants of my good friend Abraham. I pulled you in from all over the world, called you in from every dark corner of the earth. Telling you, ‘You’re my servant, serving on my side. I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’ Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you (Isaiah 41:8-10 MSG).
As I continued to study Isaiah, I found that my strength in the Lord allowed me to continue when I didn’t know I could. I found the stamina described in Isaiah 40, Have you not known? Hav you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV).
God gave me what I needed, when I needed it, He still does. A lesson I had to learn daily, when I studied Isaiah this truth washed over me, again and again. He meets me with the exact portion my soul needs to stay on the path He has prepared for me.
Struggle and Despair
As I battled my then-undiagnosed anxiety, I found that the more I read and reflected on Isaiah, the less I felt alone in my battle. I drew courage from Isaiah 42:16-17, And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them (ESV).
I was reminded that there was more than struggle and desperation in front of me. In my battles I was reminded there was also hope.
Hope and Joy
Each week as I went farther and father into the book of Isaiah, I found verses I had heard before, but never truly understood. I found encouragement that I was not alone in my situation. The Israelites had also forgotten Whose they were and the victory they could claim through Him.
But now listen, Jacob, my servant, Israel, whom I have chosen. This is what the Lord says—he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you. Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.
Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’; others will call themselves by the name of Jacob; still others will write on their hand, ‘The Lord’s,’ and will take the name Israel. “This is what the Lord says— Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it.
Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come— yes, let them foretell what will come. Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one,” (Isaiah 44:1-8, NIV).
Can you feel the momentum from these verses? It’s like the best half time speech a coach could give His players. God is saying, “Did you forget? I am in charge. I can do things no one else can do. You’re going to be so glad to have been a part of My team. You’re going to want to change your name, tattoo my Name on your hands. No one else can claim the victory I know is coming. No one else can tell the future but Me. So whose team are you going to join? The world’s team or Mine?”
“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior (Isaiah 43:10-11, ESV).
God gave us a purpose to share His story, His love with the world. How amazing to me, that He would want to use me, to use us, to share this Love Story with other people. By the time I had finished studying Isaiah I felt like I had taken a Ph.D level course. I was in awe, blessed, encouraged, and it was hard to describe the love I felt God had for me.
Best Beloved, how long has it been since you were fired up about your faith? What a wonderful time of year to be reminded of all God has done for us through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Take some time and read a chapter in Isaiah each day. Study the verses and let them steep into your soul. The mark it can leave can change your perspective forever.