God's Remedy for Anxiety
by T. Stanley Soltau, D.D.
In these days of much frustration and uncertainty of all kinds, it is a great thing to know the secret of confidence, or God's Remedy for Anxiety. It is amazing as we read the Old Testa-ment to see how up-to-date it is in so much of its content for us today. Especially as we read the Old Testament prophets we find conditions there paralleling very much those of our own day and time. In the 30th chapter of Isaiah, verses 15-18, we find what we might well term, "God's remedy for an-xiety." It was a time of fear and uncertainty. There was an atmosphere of change; socially, class distinctions were com-ing in; there was great confusion of opinion and uncertainty; there was fear that the old faith was no longer effective, and above and behind it all, there was the great fear on the part of the Jews in Jerusalem of the growing might of Babylon. In the matter of self-defense therefore there was a strong inclination to forget God and to lean towards Egypt, in the hope that an alliance with that great power might preserve their national existence and protect them from the encroachments of Baby-lon. As Isaiah makes it so plain, frustration and fear had come to God's people because they had departed from Him.
For people like this, what then can God do? Let us see what the prophet says about, first of all, God's Remedy. He says "Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, in re-turning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in con-fidence shall be your strength." Your salvation or safety of which he speaks was both national and individual. That sal-vation or safety, he said, lay in returning, that is, returning to God, in confession and true repentance of their waywardness and sin; and in rest, that is, in resting in Him, which would mean of course a cessation of feverish haste, of worry, or discussion as to what to do, and resting in His faithfulness that God would provide a way and that God Himself would be their shield and buckler and defense. And then the prophet goes on, "In quietness and in confidence shall be your stren-gth." Your strength was not to increase, he says, in exercise and in activity, and in anxious worrying, but in quietness and in confidence in the Lord. The Psalmist again and again speaks the same wonderful truth. "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Modern psychology agrees to all this, but the difficulty is that in modern psychology, as a general thing, there is so little emphasis on Him, and unless we have a faith in the Lord and close relationship with Him which enables us to rest in Him, it is perfectly hopeless and helpless to try to rest in our-selves, or rest even in others. That kind of rest may easily become a deadly passivity, but a rest in the Lord is a quiet-ness of spirit and a deep consciousness that whatever hap-pens or is happening is of His appointment and that He will see us safely through.
THE PEOPLE'S RESPONSE
Notice the people's response--it was in one word--refusal, "And ye would not, But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; and we will ride upon the swift." The people's res-ponse to God's gracious invitation or exhortation was defeat-ism and terror. They had determined to put God out of their thoughts and therefore were to be utterly put to rout, for God says, "Therefore shall ye flee: and therefore shall they that pursue you be swift. One thousand shall flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five shall ye flee: til ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on a hill."
After all that, we come to God's Treatment in verse 18, "And therefore will Jehovah wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for Jehovah is a God of justice: blessed are all they that wait for Him." God's treatment is in waiting for His people. This was not a waiting of judgment; this was a waiting of patience, until sin had run its course, until they had come to themselves and were ready to turn to Him. He says that "He will wait that He may be gracious unto you." It re-minds one of the story of the Prodigal Son, the young man who demanded from his father his share of the inheritance and went off to a far country and wasted his substance in riotous living. When his money was gone, his friends deserted him and he found that the only way to make a living was to feed a herd of unclean swine, a terrible disgrace for a Jew, and yet so desperate was his plight that he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat. Then he came to himself, and when he came to himself, but not be-fore, he was ready to return to his father and make confes-sion. During all that time his father was waiting that he might be gracious unto him, and as soon as he saw his son coming, even while a long distance away, he ran towards him, and put his arms around him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and the past was wiped out. In the same way, God says that He will wait until His people come to the end of themselves, in order that He may be gracious unto them and therefore will He be exalted that He may have mercy. He is waiting for them to come to themselves in order that they may come back to Him, and then to exalt Him, giving Him His right place in the hearts of His people, and then, but not until then, can He have mercy upon them. He is a God of justice and of absolute righteousness, and that righteousness keeps Him from helping the unrepentant or the unregenerate, and that is a lesson which we all need to learn, that the Lord has to wait in order that He may be gracious and merciful unto us.
Finally comes the cure--the cure for anxiety, the sure bless-ing, "Blessed are all they that wait for Him." Regarding this matter of waiting, we need to distinguish between what we might call a "passive" waiting and an "active" waiting. The passive waiting spells defeat and sometimes rebellion. It often means cynicism, "I will just wait and see," "I don't believe the Lord will do anything, but I will wait and see." Well, waiting for God, as he uses it here, is that waiting in expectancy, poise, and confidence, that He Who has promised will indeed bring it to pass. Isaiah, the Prophet, in the 64th chapter and 4th verse, says, "For from old, men have not heard, nor per-ceived by the ear; neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, who worketh for him that waiteth for him." The prophet in these wonderful words, says, "God is unique; there is none like Him who works for the man that waits for Him." When and as our eyes are fixed upon God and remain there, we can be certain that He is working for us, while we are waiting in constant expectancy and belief for Him to make manifest His will and His way for us, and His power on our behalf. As the Psalmist of old said, "Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their master, and as the eyes of a maid unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes look unto Jehovah our God, until he have mercy upon us." (Psalm 123:2). And then again, in Isaiah, the 40th chapter, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." This is only the first part of the pro-mise; the other part, or the cure for affliction, is this, "Though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be hidden any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it; when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left." (Isaiah 30:21-22). His guidance and presence insure deliverance and victory, which is absolutely certain for those who are willing to wait for Him, and that waiting is often the hardest part of all. Our faith is so wavering and we are so feverishly active and restless, all of which only increases our frustration and anxiety. What we need is to be still and quiet and know that He is God. More than that, that He is our God, that He has His hand upon us as His children, and that He is waiting for us until He sees that we are ready to take our hands off the situation completely and so surrender it and ourselves to Him that He shall be able indeed to do great and mighty things for us. As the prophet of old said to the king, "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, that he may show himself strong on behalf of him whose heart is perfect toward Him." If we as God's people were only more willing to wait for the Lord, how infinitely great would be the things that He in His graciousness would be delighted to do for us and in us and through us to the blessing of others and to the glory of His Name. The Lord is waiting for His people to come to an end of themselves, and therefore to come back to Him in full surrender and look to Him in patience and faith, waiting until the time is ripe, until they are ready, and until the Lord is able to do great and mighty things. Let us examine our hearts, and especially those of us who are restless and anxious, and ask the Lord to give us that spirit of calmness and quietness and grace that shall enable us to wait for Him and thereby open the way for Him to work mightily for us as we continue to wait in faith.
T. STANLEY SOLTAU,