I really dislike life’s ‘loose ends.’ I like to finish the job. I try to resolve problems, fix what’s broken, clean up the mess. Even as I write these words, in the back of my mind, I am thinking about getting the latest snow removed from my driveway. One of the trying things for the recent 11 months is that the pandemic drags on, new wrinkles complicating life just when we hope for better. When will we be able to enjoy company, travel to see family, and gather in church without concern? When will the sad news of another death from this ‘thing’ stop coming?
The fact about life is that problems never really go away, they just change names and places. We are tempted, at least most of the people I know are, to wonder if God is working when difficulty resists our efforts at a solution. “Where are You, Lord?” we ask. It’s not wrong to wonder but if we begin to accuse Him of not caring, if we conclude that He is untrustworthy, an even bigger problem is created. We take things into our own hands, working at controlling people and situations. And what happens? We alienate our friends and family. We tend to lose hope and get bitter. We grow more isolated, cutting ourselves off from the very resources we need.
In a little book of Scripture written by a man with a strange name, Habakkuk, we meet a preacher who was frustrated. He saw the godless Assyrian military machine coming at his nation, the people of the Living God. It made no sense that God would let a terrible, cruel empire overrun Jerusalem, but that was about to happen. “Fix it, Lord, please!” he cried, but the threat only become worse.
Habakkuk gives voice to what we all think at some point: God is not working. But, he knew the Lord and went to prayer. The answer he received was a call to steady patience, to long-term vision. “Write my answer in large, clear letters on a tablet, so that a runner can read it and tell everyone else. But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked; but the righteous will live by their faith.” (Habakkuk 2:2-4, NLT)
Faith, we remember, is ‘the evidence of things unseen.” (Hebrews 11.1) We live, indeed we thrive, when we anchor our hope in God’s purposes over our own, when we submit to His will, even when the future is murky.
Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, teaches patient faith from his own experience. Under house arrest in Rome he cannot continue his missions work. Even some of his colleagues came to the conclusion that Paul must be doing something wrong causing the Lord to remove his blessings. Paul, with great vision born of faith, saw that the Spirit of God put him in a place of witness inaccessible by normal means. He was guarded by young men of the palace guard, elite men from all over the Empire. Day by day they heard the Gospel.
Paul says “everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including all the soldiers in the palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, many of the Christians here have gained confidence and become more bold in telling others about Christ.” (Philippians 1:12-14, NLT) Some of those guards came to faith in Christ Jesus and took the Message home with them. Was it costly to Paul? No question about that! But, God let him see from a higher place, to find purpose in the problems!
Are you wondering when God is going to ‘fix it?’ Pray for vision asking the Holy Spirit to steady you until you’re able to grasp the ‘what, why, and when’ of His purposes. That’s not an easy assignment. Those without faith will likely mock you for avoiding ‘reality’ or condemn you for being ‘too passive.’ A few may even adopt the hostility of Job’s wife who saw his terrible suffering and told him to “Curse God and die!” (Job 2.9) Don’t give up. Like Job, be silent before the Lord even as you hold onto your trust in Him. God sees your tears and weeps along with you.
Don’t allow yourself to doubt His love or His ability to accomplish His purposes! Take this promise with you today. Meditate on this word from the Word and it will strengthen your faithful resolve to serve the Lord.
“So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.
“So you’ll go out in joy, you’ll be led into a whole and complete life.
The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song.
All the trees of the forest will join the procession,
exuberant with applause.” (Isaiah 55:11-12, The Message)
(Casting Crowns reminds us that God is at work!)
Here in this worn and weary land
Where many a dream has died
Like a tree planted by the water
We will never run dry
So living water flowing through
God we thirst for more of You
Fill our hearts and flood our souls
With one desire
Just to know You and to make You known
We lift Your name on high
Shine like the sun make darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more
Than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive
Into Your Word we’re digging deep
To know our Father’s heart
Into the world we’re reaching out
To show them who You are
Anything is possible
We were made to thrive
Mark Hall | Matthew West
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