And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here I am! Send me.” (ESV)
And the Lord said to Isaiah, "Go out to meet Ahaz…And say to him, 'Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint.'" (ESV)
Our country was founded on optimism. We’ve always looked to the promise of tomorrow for something better than we have today. But in these tough times, that optimism can start to wear thin.
As we know, it was the height of tax season this month, and I’m sure many of us felt the bill was a little high or the refund a little low; we checked our accounts and saw the balance wasn’t what we’d like. Many of us probably wondered why we struggle on in tough jobs just to find the money isn’t there when we need it. At such frustrating times, it is worth looking back at Scripture to see how men and women of faith approached difficulties. When we do that, we find the answer is completely unambiguous.
Consider, for instance, Isaiah, a man who lived in hard times like ours—and in many ways, far harder times. Isaiah lived during the fall of Israel and through the many struggles of Judah. In the verses referenced earlier, he advised the young king Ahaz, only just put on the throne, as armies swooped in to invade.
Imagine the turmoil and worry of those days. No one could know what tomorrow would bring. The Judeans were a small, relatively poor people in a dangerous region, with enemies in every direction—including their brothers in Israel to the north—just waiting for a sign of weakness.
It was into such a world Isaiah walked. God’s people were as confused and concerned as we are today. They were desperate and angry, much like we are now. They felt the world wasn’t what it ought to be as we do this very moment.
And only one thing made a difference for these people. When the opportunity to serve God came their way, they did not hesitate, they did not question. When Isaiah was called, he answered as all godly people do in the Bible when God calls: “Here I am!”
Such simple words; there is no ambiguity. If anything, there’s a little redundancy. But think about it like this: Isaiah isn’t announcing his physical position (which God obviously knows), he’s saying he is ready to take on anything. He’s saying, “I’m over here, God, ready to serve.”
It’s not always an easy decision to speak up. When God calls, His call brings with it both difficulty and promise. The path of God is never easy, and in times when we want easy more than anything, it can be tempting to pretend we don’t hear.
But there is always promise behind these difficulties. When Isaiah goes to advise Ahaz, God tells him to say, “Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart grow faint.” He was right, of course. The armies marching against Jerusalem were turned back. The future was secured for that generation. Do you see the promise in that? If we announce, “Here I am!” God is saying, don’t worry about the future, it’s going to come together for us.
It is important to know that despite the difficulties, God only calls when the end result is opportunity. There may be risk and struggle, but the end of the road is a better life, a happier life, and a godlier life.
No one can promise that there will be great jobs for any of us tomorrow, nor that the money will flow in. But we can know our future is secure with God. In difficult times, God calls most often. He calls us to service and improvement, and He promises us the future if we rise to the occasion.
Thus, the answer is clear: when times are bad, when the checkbook won’t balance, when we can’t seem to get up for another day of work, that’s the time to open our ears to His promise, to His call. That’s the time to learn from Isaiah. Do not hesitate. “Do not fear.” Shout, “Here I am!”