“For they are a rebellious people,
children unwilling to hear
the instruction of the LORD;
who say to the seers, ‘Do not see,’
and to the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy to us what is right;
speak to us smooth things,
leave the way, turn aside from the path,
let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.’…
For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,
‘In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’
But you were unwilling, and you said,
‘No! We will flee upon horses’;
therefore you shall flee away…
Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the LORD is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.”
Isaiah 30:9-11, 15-18
What an amazing God is ours. He exalts Himself in showing mercy to rebellious sinners. Even as we refuse to listen to Him. Even as we pursue idols and demand to be told what we want to hear instead of opening our ears to truth. Whatever the extent of our unwillingness to hear Him, He beckons us to return to Him, and in His wisdom He knows how to pierce our hearts with His truth and reality, breaking us of pride and releasing us from the chains with which we bound ourselves.
In returning to our Lord, resting in Him, we find salvation. Not just salvation for the moment, but one that is continually at work within us. His Spirit comes in power to free us from the captivity we don’t even realize we’re in. In Christ, we experience life as it is meant to be. Life abundant, lived in purity, peace, and joy, rejoicing in the glory of the God who made the heavens and who comes to dwell in our heart.
In quietness—the quiet serenity of a heart that seeks the face of the Lord and chooses to trust in Him at all times—we find strength. A strength not of ourselves, but the strength of God Most High, the all-powerful One. Strength to believe Him, to follow His leading, to obey His commands, and to know the depth of His love for us.
It seems the opposite of how things should work. To return and simply rest in order to be saved. To quiet ourselves and trust in order to be strengthened. It shows how much this isn’t about us and what we are capable of. We like for things to be about us, to revolve around how much we can accomplish so we can point to them and say, “Look what I did!” But that isn’t reality. It is all about Christ. It is all about the salvation that is offered through His sacrifice for us. It is about trusting and obeying our God, even when we can’t see His reasoning. It is about His strength poured into us, not how strong we are to help ourselves.
As painful as it can be to experience the discipline of the Lord, to be broken in order to see His glory and lay down my pride, I am so thankful that He loves me this much. I am thankful for every disciplinary action coming from the hand of my God, because I know that it is filled with His wisdom, His faithfulness, and His steadfast love. All of it is necessary and purposeful, so that I will see His goodness.
This is His mercy. This is Him bringing us back, so that we will know His salvation and strength. And when we return to Him, we find His glory filling our lives and we stand in wonder of this great God whom we serve. “Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the LORD binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow” (Isaiah 30:26).
“Come, let us return to the LORD;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
Let us know, let us press on to know the LORD;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.”