11-13 God spoke strongly to me, grabbed me with both hands and warned me not to go along with this people. He said: "Don't be like this people, always afraid somebody is plotting against them. Don't fear what they fear. Don't take on their worries. If you're going to worry, worry about The Holy. Fear God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
(Isaiah 8:11-13 The Message)
Ever been "grabbed by God" in such a strong manner you could not deny it was his hand holding you back or pulling you forward? Isaiah speaks of an encounter he had with God - being spoken to with all the strength of the God of the Angel Armies. The warning is strong - it is directional. God's intention is not to frighten Isaiah, but to preserve him from a course which would prove to be his undoing if he followed along with the "trend" of the crowd.
From the passage above, it appears there is a group of individuals living with a little bit of paranoia - fearing the plotting of the other guy. In a purely psychiatric sense, paranoia is any set of "delusions" or "projections" we conjure up within which imagines the hostility of others. These "imagined" beliefs can cause us a great deal of personal conflict - paralyzing some, driving others into the confines of solitude and withdrawal.
In a more practical sense, paranoia is simply anything we believe about the motives of another person which are basically without any reality. In other words, they are simply suspicions - baseless imaginations. If we look at our lives, we probably have experienced a few of these moments - believing something or someone was "out to get us", but having no real basis for our imagined threatened posture.
The God of the universe is totally aware of these moments of perceived threat and he takes great care to keep us grounded in reality! Here we see God pointing out to Isaiah the futility of fearing what the others fear - the basis of their fears having no real power backing them. God reminds him of the futility of taking on the worries of another - it is even more silly than taking on our own set of worries!
Sometimes we need the "grab" of our God to get us in touch with our worries - seeing them for what they really are - baseless imaginings, without power to overtake us until we give into them! God is very clear - if you are going to worry, find the right thing to worry about! To Isaiah, he says, "Worry about me!" To us, I think he is saying the same - "Focus on me!" After all, he is the one with the power to turn the tide!
Not sure if you find yourself in a moment of "paranoid" thought today, but you may find yourself there soon. Remember, there is but one basis for perceiving reality - it is through the eyes of Jesus. Take those things which challenge you, keep you tied in knots, awaken you from sleep, or drive you into hiding to the source of all peace. His warning to us - control what you allow to affect your life! How? By placing these "perceived threats" into his hands. He holds the key to unraveling the mess of worries we have wrapped our brains around!