Anxiety and Isaiah 6

On her blog, Holly Ritchhart recently posted a hymn entitled, “His Love Can Never Fail,” by E.S. Hall. I absolutely love it. The first stanza goes like this:

I do not ask to see the way
My feet will have to tread;
But only that my soul may feed
Upon the living Bread.
‘Tis better far that I should walk
By faith close to His side;
I may not know the way I go,
But oh, I know my Guide.

My prideful heart often does want to know the way my feet will tread. I may know my Guide, but I also want to “know the way I go.” Anxiety is a common fruit of this mindset, and yesterday I struggled with a particularly strong episode of anxiety.

Thankfully I had some free time in the afternoon, during which I found comfort in an unexpected place. As I was flipping through the pages of Isaiah, my eyes came across chapter 6. (Just to be clear: I’m not saying the Bible was the “unexpected place” of comfort—just this particular passage.)

Sometimes in seeking answers to specific questions, I find God giving me an answer to a larger, more important question. This was one of those occasions. The reason my specific concerns—which are still important to God—can and will be answered is because of what Isaiah 6:1-7 says.

1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” 4 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.”

Reading through the passage several times, I discovered four pillars of truth. I list them in order of importance, which also reveals a cause-and-effect sequence; that is, each pillar leads to the next.

Pillar #1: The Lord is sitting on His throne, high and lifted up (verse 1).
My viewpoint is limited. In fact, apart from the light of the gospel of the glory of God, I see nothing clearly. The Lord, however, sits on His throne. He is the King. He is sovereign. Being “high and lifted up,” He not only sees all—He controls all.

Pillar #2: The Lord is holy, and the whole earth is full of His glory (verse 3).
There is none like the Lord, seated on His throne, the essence of holiness. Only holiness is truly beautiful and only God is holy. He is beauty incarnate. His glory is displayed in all the earth. His perfection is complete; He is without flaw or blemish or spot.

Pillar #3: Because of my sin, I am undone (verse 5).
Like Isaiah, I am unclean in the presence of this holy God. My lips—and, consequently, my heart—are stained with depravity. Tarnished by my sin, I am cut off from the Lord, for holiness can have nothing to do with anything unholy.

Pillar #4: My iniquity is taken away; my sin is purged (verse 7).
Solely because of Another’s work, my sin has been removed. My rebellion against God was atoned for. The holiness that demanded my destruction also secured my redemption.

Anxiety is a heavy burden, a burden I was not meant to bear. The responsibility for sovereign control lies on the shoulders of the Sovereign God. I am not God. I am the creature, not the Creator. Scripture calls me to cast my anxieties on God, for He sovereignly cares for me (1 Peter 5:7). And because of the four pillars of Isaiah 6:1-7, God can handle the weight of every anxiety I will ever have.

As an addendum: John Piper has written the two best articles I have ever read on the topic of anxiety: “Anxieties: To Be Cast Not Carried” and “Are You Humble Enough to Be Care-Free?” (I was going to provide a link to both articles, but I’ve not been able to figure out how. I’m pretty stupid when it comes to HTML. If anyone could e-mail me and explain how to do this, I would greatly appreciate it.)