Yesterday I attended a family picnic and I got ketchup in my hair. My uncle made me a cheeseburger and I topped it with all the fixings – lettuce, tomato, onions, and ketchup. The wind was crazy. I believe what happened was ketchup dripped to my plate and the plate flew into my hair. I remember having to catch it a few times. When that ketchup was in my hair, I could not stop messing with my hair. It became my primary focus. I wanted so badly to get it out of my hair, though I’m sure if I didn’t know it was there I would have been none the wiser.
When we have problems in life we do the same thing too often. We know about the problem and we focus on the problem. We continue to think about the problem. We continue to consider the need to fix the problem. It almost becomes an obsession. If the problem is small, we spend our time figuring out how we will resolve the issue. If it is a bigger issue or something we do not have the means to fix alone, we continue to look at the problem as an impossible hurdle and depression sets in soon after. Sometimes we make ourselves sick as we continue to fixate on our current circumstances.
Just as I should not have been so focused on the ketchup in my hair (it was only a little ketchup and there is a thing called shampoo), we cannot be problem focused. We have a God Who is a God of the impossible. Our focus, whether we have no pressing problems or we are buried knee deep in problems, should always be on God. When He is our focus, when He is first in our life, then our circumstances, our struggles, our problems won’t control us, depress us, or weaken us. Remember, in our weakness, He is strong (see 2 Corinthians 12:9).
In Isaiah 26:3 we read, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!” Do you know what is so awesome about that verse? The word keep is “natsar” which means “to watch” or “guard.” The word for peace is “Shalom,” which means “completeness” or “peace.” The word for perfect is also “Shalom.” This verse says if we are fixed on God, if we trust in Him, we will be kept (watched, guarded) so that we are in completeness and peace.
All is well. Shalom. That is what we read in 2 Kings 4 twice—both times from the Shunammite’s mouth. The prophet Elisha passed by her home often and the Shunammite wanted to make a room for him. What an awesome gesture to make a room for the man of God. If only we each made room like that for God in our lives.
The Shunammite was blessed by God with a son but one day while the son was with his father, he fell ill and died. The Shunammite woman had her son carried to the bed of the man of God. He was laid on the bed and she left. As she saddled the donkey, she was asked why she was headed to Elisha on this day. She said, “ALL IS WELL.” When she came upon Gehazi, she again said, “ALL IS WELL,” before she fell at Elisha’s feet.
All is well. Shalom. The word means completeness or peace. What a great thought—peace! But how can one have peace when their son lay dead?!? How can a person say, “All is well” when it doesn’t appear that everything is okay? This woman was without a son for so very long and now her prized son was dead. All is well. Shalom. Why? Because she had her eyes fixed on God and she allowed Him to move into her house and into her life. Her circumstances might have been painful, but all was well. She loved and feared the God of the impossible. He moved into her home—and he moved in her life. So too He can in yours. As the hymnist Horatio Spafford wrote, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”
“And he said, ‘Why will you go to him today? It is neither new moon nor Sabbath.’ She said, ‘All is well’ … Run at once to meet her and say to her, ‘Is all well with you? Is all well with your husband? Is all well with the child?’ And she answered, ‘All is well.’” – 2 Kings 4:23, 26 [ESV]
We read in Isaiah that the idols are “empty as the wind.” When we think of wind, you don’t see anything there. It’s this movement of air. You can’t see it. The only reason you can tell the air is moving is because you see trees dancing in the wind or lightweight objects like leaves are carried by the strength of the wind. Or perhaps you feel the air blowing on your skin or through your hair.
The Bible says that idols are “foolish, worthless things.” When we think of idols, we often think of the man-made items that the people in biblical times worshiped. We read about different gods they worshiped that were made of wood or other materials and looked like an animal. But man-made idols can be anything that takes the place of God.
Ecclesiastes speaks of chasing the wind. Solomon writes of everything being meaningless. But what does that mean? Is everything meaningless? Is life meaningless? Not at all. Solomon understood that meaning could only be found in God. The idols we have on this earth—for some people it is money, a career, family, a particular person, gambling, etc—are all foolish, worthless things that cannot do a thing for us. With Jesus Christ we find meaning. There is no emptiness; there is only fullness. He satisfies completely. He makes whole. He completes.
“See, they are all foolish, worthless things. All your idols are as empty as the wind.” – Isaiah 41:29 [NLT]