You're in a great mood. Then, you open an email from your boss. You didn't do so great on your last project, and they're taking some time to review your performance. Immediately, anxiety grips your heart.
You're in great mood. Then, you see your grade from that last test.
You're in a great mood. Then, you exchange words with your spouse over a stupid misunderstanding. Suddenly, the night is ruined.
Lately I've been thinking about why my heart is so easily shaken. As a Christian, I know that my joy, my faith, my strength is supposed to be immovable, unshakable. It's supposed to rest on Jesus, the foundation of my soul.
So why is my heart is so easily moved from a place of peace? Why, during the course of a day--or even an hour!--do our hearts move from joy to despair, peace to anger, contentment to anxiety?
Ahaz's Heart Was Shaken
In Isaiah 7, the prophet Isaiah records a story of one of Judah's last kings, Ahaz. As a nation, Israel rejected God and walked in their own ways. They had even divided into two kingdoms--the northern kingdom Israel (also called Ephraim) and the southern kingdom, Judah. Isaiah was sent to warn the southern Kingdom, Judah, to turn back to God.
Ahaz ascended to the throne in Judah around 730 B.C. Imagine what it felt like to become King in these days of absolute power. Ahaz was probably over the moon! He probably felt ready to be in power--excited and eager to reign.
But within years of becoming King, Ahaz faced a huge threat. Another nation, Syria, wanted to attack Judah. And Ephraim was in league with this foreign nation! Ahaz's excitement turned to despair. As he looked at the armies at his gates, scripture says,
"The heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the threes of the forest shake before the wind."
When faced with this unexpected threat, Ahaz was deeply shaken.
In fact, Ahaz was so shaken that he could not trust God anymore. God's purpose was to deliver Ahaz and Judah from the Syrian threat. God told Ahaz his plan to save him, then commanded him:
"Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint."
So often when we face a problem or issue that shakes our peace, we want to focus on the problem. Our heart skips a beat, and we feel our blood pumping faster. We immediately want to fix the problem, address the misunderstanding, or figure out a solution.
Ahaz was no different. But in that moment of shaking, God commanded Ahaz NOT to act out of his panic. If Ahaz was hasty to act, spoke out of his anxiety, or let fear guide his decision-making, he was done for. He should have been careful to take a deep breath and quiet his heart.
God wanted Ahaz to stabilize FIRST, then act.
Will We Allow an Earthquake of Doubt?
Ahaz's story tells us this important truth:
We will all face things that shake us. Yet when something shakes us, we have a choice. We can either let the tremors ripple through our heart and start an earthquake of panic, anxiety, and doubt--or we can stabilize, remembering the foundation on which we stand.
In a time of shaking, God warned Ahaz not to let the tremors turn to a complete earthquake! But Ahaz let the tremors grow. He rejected God's help and turned to the king of Assyria for help against the Syrians instead. He tried to solve the problem out of human strength. For Ahaz, this led to his nation's domination and exile at the hands of Assyria. The people who were supposed to help him turned around and betrayed them.
The commentary for this passage in the ESV study bible says, "Not believing God destabilizes everything for Ahaz, not just his religious life."
If we don't trust God in the moments of shaking, it's not just a faith problem. Not trusting God leads to a domino effect that impacts every part of our life.
Isaiah warned Ahaz that faith was the key to everything. He told him:
"If you are not firm in faith, you are not firm at all."
Ouch! How convicting is this?! If we can't trust God in the moments that count, our work, our relationships, and everything else will suffer.
How do we remain firm in faith?
Again--God knows we will have moments of shaking. That's just life. But how do we stabilize? How do we remain firm in faith?
Have you ever seen rock climbers scale seemingly sheer rock faces? It's pretty amazing to watch!
These climbers practice finding their grip in rock gyms and on smaller inclines, so that when they are on a dangerous climb and their foot slips, they'll be able to find their footing again quickly.
Like these rock climbers, did you know that we can actually PRACTICE regaining our footing? We can practice standing firm in faith in times where we feel like we are slipping and shaking.
It all comes back to remembering the firm foundation that we stand on: Jesus Christ.
"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have--Jesus Christ." -1 Corinthians 3:11
We can be stable because Jesus will never change. The gifts of peace and joy and strength He gives us are made to withstand life's trials.
But we have to choose to REMEMBER Jesus.
By remember, I don't just mean that we think about Jesus once in a while. By remember, I mean meditating and reflecting on God's love. Saturating ourselves in scripture. Filling up our media time with Godly influences instead of binge-watching or scrolling endlessly through Instagram. Getting in the word more than our phones. Going to church. Surrounding ourselves with Godly community and people who remind us of the truth.
When we practice, we get so good at remembering the feeling of Jesus' grip that when our foot slips off the rock, we can find our way again. Trusting God becomes a second instinct. Each time we experience shaking, we are able to stabilize faster and faster. Soon, the earthquakes come few and far in between.
I don't know about you, but I know the shaking this world brings is so real. I don't want to walk around unstable. I'm going to practice standing firm, putting my trust in Jesus as the foundation of everything.