May 13, 2020 • Life for Leaders
The LORD is exalted, he dwells on high;
he filled Zion with justice and righteousness;
he will be the stability of your times,
abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
the fear of the LORD is Zion’s treasure.
This is the fifth devotion in the Life for Leaders series: Walking with God in Uncertain Times. You can read the first installments in this series by clicking here.
In times that feel so uncertain and shaky, do you yearn for some stability?
I expect your answer to this question to be “Yes.” That’s my answer, to be sure. And that would be the answer for most people. As you may recall, in the last devotion I referred to a psychological study that shows human beings prefer certainty over uncertainty even when that certainty is negative. If we know something bad is coming our way, at least we can prepare for it. If we are uncertain, we’re stuck in anxiety.
But, in a world that’s continually changing, in which the only predictability is unpredictability, true stability is elusive. Oh, if we’re blessed with a fair amount of power and possessions, we can provide a semblance of stability for our lives. We might even think we have made everything in life predictably stable. But then something comes along like an automobile accident, a cancer diagnosis, or a worldwide pandemic and our stability turns out to be more romantic than real. Yes, as they say, we live in uncertain times.
In light of this fact, we wonder: Will we ever experience the stability of our times?
The Bible answers this question with an affirmation that speaks to the yearning of our souls. In Isaiah 33:5-6 we read, “The LORD is exalted, he dwells on high; he filled Zion with justice and righteousness; he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is Zion’s treasure.” Did you catch that? The Lord will be “the stability of your times” (Isaiah 33:6). The stability of your times! That sounds good. But what does it mean?
The prophecy in Isaiah 33 came to God’s people in difficult if not uncertain times. An unidentified destroyer, probably some nation with superior military power, was threatening Israel. So the prophet cried out, “O LORD, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in times of trouble” (Isaiah 33:2). The Hebrew word translated here as “times” is ‘et. That word appears again four verses later in the phrase, “he will be the stability of your times” (Isaiah 33:6). The context makes it clear that this does not mean God’s people will never go through hard times. Rather, in the midst of those times God offers “justice and righteousness . . .abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge” (Isaiah 33:5-6). “Zion’s treasure” is not protection from all difficulties. Rather, it is “the fear of the LORD” (Isaiah 33:6). It is the relationship we have with God who is utterly trustworthy, utterly gracious, utterly wise, utterly knowing.
When our times feel certain, when things are going as we had planned, it’s easy to trust in our circumstances or our own ability to control them. But in uncertain times, we recognize our own limitations. We realize just how much we need God to be “the stability of our times.” Only in him will we find a solid, trustworthy foundation on which to build our lives.
In the next Life for Leaders devotion I want to explore with you another biblical passage that helps us grasp God’s stability. For now, let me encourage you to consider the following and then join me in prayer.
Something to Think About:
Do you think of your life as stable? Why or why not?
When you read the phrase “the stability of your times,” how do you respond? What do you think about this? How do you feel about it?
In what ways do you need to experience God’s stability these days?
Something to Do:
Use your prayerful imagination to picture building your life upon God’s stability. What occurs to you as you do this?
Gracious God, I want to know you better as the stability of my times. So much around me feels uncertain. The things upon which I so often build my life feel shaky and insecure. I recognize just how much I need you. I need to know your stability and salvation. I need the help of your wisdom and knowledge. Teach me, Lord, to build my life upon you, in these difficult times, and in all times. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: God: the Source of Life, Knowledge, and Wisdom (Isaiah 28ff.)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.