You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD for ever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal. (Isaiah 26:3-4, NIV)
I will never forget the occasion. It was Sunday 25th April 1993, and a couple of hundred of us were sitting on the floor in a large open-plan office, Plantation House, in the City of London. A building normally full of desks, photocopiers and the like was an unlikely venue for our Sunday church service.
A year earlier, our congregation (St Helen’s Bishopsgate) had lost the use of our church building as a result of a massive IRA truck bomb attack next door. For several months we had met in another church building down the road. But that week a second IRA bomb had gone off, badly damaging that venue. Now we had nowhere but the office block to meet!
Our Rector, Dick Lucas, preached that evening from the verse from Isaiah quoted above.
Today, in the maelstrom of worry surrounding Coronavirus, I thought I’d dig out my notes to remind myself of the points he’d drawn out from these wonderful verses (it’s good to make notes on sermons!). Here goes:
He reminded us that others’ situations were much worse than ours, and that Isaiah was himself writing after a century of horrific trouble from the Assyrians. Would we behave like God’s people or the world? Three points followed:
1. The reason for trust: When the Bible asks us to trust it always does so with a reason. Here it is that the Lord is the ROCK!
2. The nature of trust: In verse 3 (because they trust in you), it’s more passive: there are certain things we can’t solve; we must leave these with God. But in verse 4 (the command trust) it seems more active: trust includes making plans and getting on.
3. The reward of trust: peace means positive well-being, with our minds fixed on the Lord and not straying all over the place. It’s a great discipline to fix our minds on Him before we go to sleep.
Finally, the peace seen in Christians has power to change the mind of unbelievers!
Those of us who listened knew that Dick meant and was living these words. He had himself narrowly escaped injury in the first bomb – the kitchen of his own house had been badly damaged. Yet he kept on with leading the church.
Our whole world is gripped by worry about the coronavirus. We must take it seriously, and do what we can to serve others and reduce its effects. But in the middle of this, how good, how essential and how distinctive it is to remember these wonderful words from Isaiah, and go on trusting in the LORD, the Rock eternal.
Why not memorise these verses from Isaiah today?