Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him
I wonder, back in January, where did you think you would be this morning? The schools have broken up and for many it should be the beginning of the holiday season. Maybe you had expected to be on holiday abroad somewhere? Maybe you were meant to be working? Maybe you just anticipated spending time with friends and family. Personally I was supposed to be on a beach involved in a mission. I would imagine however that very few of us are actually where we thought we would be.
Over the last few weeks I have heard a number of people say that they are beginning to struggle more and more. Stringent Lockdown is over, yet somehow it doesn’t feel like that. Maybe we look at the other devolved nations and envy their freedom. The holidays you wanted have not panned out, your furlough is not seeming to end, the future of your employment may be hanging in the balance. It just seems as if everywhere you look doors are closing, with very little sign of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
Perhaps you are facing health or family challenges. Maybe its broader than that and as you have taken stock of your life it just hasn’t panned out the way you had imagined. There isn’t that perfect career, with the perfect house and family. The truth is that people are going to fail us and disappoint us. Whether that be friends, family, colleagues or the government. Sometimes life just feels disappointing.
Whatever the cause I think it’s fair to say at times we all get hit with that sense of disappointment, the feeling of a door being banged shut. A closed door can feel so permanent, so conclusive, so final. Leaving us with the question …where now?
I was thinking this week about Joseph and how many doors seemed to close for him.
- He had been obedient to God and his father, but it cost him his home, his inheritance …the result? Sold into slavery by his brothers
- He was loyal, honest and honourable in his dealings with Potiphar’s household …the result? A lost job and prison
- He helps the cupbearer and the baker …the result? They forgot him
Yet we don’t find Joseph giving up. So how did Joseph endure this without losing faith in God? How did he keep from becoming a disillusioned, bitter, vengeful and angry man?
Joseph understood that God’s ways are not our ways, his timing is not always ours and his is always perfect. He kept at the forefront of his mind this conviction that God reigned over all the details of his life, from the greatest to the smallest. He encouraged his brothers, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives’ (Genesis 50:19-20).
Our faith does not insulate us from grief, pain and disappointment; Joseph is but one example of this. Yet the challenge is that when it’s not clear what God is doing in our lives, in faith and obedience we must go on walking in the darkness until he brings the light. The ultimate goal we fix our sight on is what we have waiting for us in eternity. Our disappointments should drive us to God where we can rest in him.
David’s Psalms in particular are full of examples of him crying out to the Lord in distress yet ultimately resting in him. He reminds us in Psalm 37, “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.”
Isaiah is another example of someone who learned to wait upon the Lord and so wrote “but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
As I have spent time recently reflecting on the very different Spring and Summer this is turning out to be, with all its challenges, I have been helped to be reminded of these things and I trust it will be an encouragement to you also. When life throws disappointment at you where do you turn?
Please may I encourage you to go and read Psalm 27?
Tirzah Jones, Malpas Road