I’ve been praying about a friend’s unwise choice of solution to a major problem in her life. I can’t fault her for wanting relief. This issue is consuming her, causing her deep distress, and needs to be addressed. She isn’t breaking any laws, she isn’t hurting anyone else… so why do I feel so uneasy about this whole thing?
God showed me clearly this morning what the problem is. I was reading Isaiah 31, which just happened to be my next reading as I go through the Bible. The problem isn’t the avenue she is choosing. The problem is where she’s looking for help. Starting in verse 1,
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,
who rely on horses,
who trust in the multitude of their chariots
and in the great strength of their horsemen,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
or seek help from the LORD.
In a sense, my friend has gone down to Egypt for help. She’s relying on horses and chariots, but hasn’t looked toward God. In fact, even though she claims to be a believer, she’s currently flatly rejecting Him.
But the Egyptians are men and not God;
their horses are flesh and not spirit.
When the LORD stretches out his hand,
he who helps will stumble,
he who is helped will fall;
both will perish together.
God clearly lays out the consequences of ignoring Him and going elsewhere for help. It doesn’t work. Success might come initially, but in the long run, we will be worse off. God loves us too much to let us be satisfied with anything or anyone other than Him… because only He can fully satisfy us.
It isn’t that my friend’s solution to her problem is wrong, per se. It’s a popular choice in our culture, one I might have chosen myself. And God might tell her to go ahead and do exactly what she’s already doing. The problem isn’t her decision to act in this way—it’s that she is living her own life on her own terms and isn’t willing to submit to God’s authority and lordship.
Even so, God calls her back, actually promising her eventual relief from the problem that torments her:
Return to him you have so greatly revolted against, O Israelites.
For in that day every one of you will reject the idols of silver and gold your sinful hands have made.
“Assyria will fall by a sword that is not of man; a sword, not of mortals, will devour them.
Verse seven stood out here for me. Any time we look to anyone or anything other than God, that thing becomes an idol to us.
I don’t know how my friend’s relief will come. It might take a while or only happen in heaven, or it might arrive instantly. God could work through skilled people, or He could intervene and just solve the problem outright. It really doesn’t matter. The important thing is that we need to look first and only to our Lord to meet our needs. In fact, I believe He puts us in situations such as this so that we are compelled to seek Him. More than anything else, He wants us!
Nonetheless, in a followup study a year later, the Nordic diet
individuals had accumulated all of the weight back (5).