Charles Spurgeon: “(do) You want to see….how (affliction) can bring good to the soul; you must believe it. Honor God by trusting him.” (as tweeted by Randy Alcorn, 20 Mar 2017)
So many friends waiting, waiting, waiting.
There’s D, whose husband got let go from his job at age 61. It’s been 3 months and he’s gone through two REALLY promising and lengthy job interviews. Only to hear back in emails, ‘Thank you for your interest, but we’ve decided to go with someone else.”
In addition to my friend D, several other friends pray for, search and await jobs.
And then there is J who holds on for a solution to a leak in her roof. It’s not like she and her husband have oodles of money in savings, available to try first one remedy or another. That’s part of the problem. The house has turned into a money pit, drawing from their retirement funds. They believe they should sell it to protect their savings. But they can’t list the house until the leak is repaired. Biding their time, they communicate, encourage and remind contractors, hopeful that each successive remedy will be THE one.
My other friend has endured countless medical procedures and tests and been the subject of panels of medical boards convening to seek the best way forward for an aggressive cancer. Chosen routes have revealed dead ends. Patience, while suffering, is her familiar journey partner.
Trying, painful situations hit believers and non-believers alike. We could despair, were it not for knowing the Truth. For as Jesus teaches, “…you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
What is that truth that blocks our natural response to fall into a gloomy permanent pit? That God loves us and that the suffering has a good purpose! That He has planned each trial to conform us to our older brother, Jesus. To avail ourselves of that truth, God has given us FAITH to believe the manifold and rich promises that are the rightful property or resource of all who ‘love God and are called by Him, according to His purposeful plan.’ (Romans 8:28)
Just as we have been given physical muscles to exercise in daily life, so too have Christians been given the spiritual muscle of faith. But the gift of believing God comes with a concomitant responsibility. We have to use faith, to move out, do what is good in the moment, depending on the invisible but real promises that God will come through just as His word says. We have to exercise or actively depend on God’s written pledge to provide, protect, guide, comfort us.
How do we do that? By deciding to ‘believe (sight unseen) every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ (Matt 4:4). And that FEELS costly and painful at times.
Who doesn’t suffer the pains of temptation to despair over circumstances that seem to be perpetual? Yet God commands us to not look at the way things appear, but to see through the circumstances to the God who promises good to those who believe Him and cling to the truth of His promises.
The other night as we were discussing the day’s Bible readings, Mike and I pondered the the connection between trusting…..believing…..expecting…..waiting ….hoping…exercising patience…… All these actions sparkle as many sides of the one diamond called FAITH in God. But what do those actions LOOK like? How do you DO expecting, waiting, hoping….?
An insight has recently enriched my mind, an answer to a dilemma. I’ve often struggled to grasp how to live out Jesus’ command, in a self-deflecting, God-glorifying way: “…. let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matt 5:16 I’ve gotten hung up on the concept, ‘your light’. How can I have any light in myself? The answer: this ‘light’ is the gift God has given me to BELIEVE Him. My responsibility is to show the world in a visible way (light) how much I treasure this invisible but precious reality of relying on and belonging to Jesus. God calls that way ‘patience’ or ‘trust in God’.
Given that He commands me to make visible this divine, inner light, I pray daily to WANT to do just that (and follow through) a – to live in such a way that the world (my colleagues, family and friends) sees my Godward trust, hope-filled expectations, and patient waiting and be STUNNED and chalk it up to God! (that Maria is so patient during suffering. She must REALLY love her God and be satisfied by Him!!!)
Patience is a virtue recognized in the western world. Yet most joke about it and cavalierly let themselves off the hook by admitting they have little.
When I feel strong, I affirm this fact: God is kind to give me multiple occasions to practice and improve this muscle of contented waiting on Him. Yet, I seem often to succumb to despair, sometimes multiple times in a week.
But what other choice do you and I have? We can either face the sufferings in life kicking and screaming, or we can submit to the wise and loving hand of the potter who keeps us on His wheel and won’t stop until we are beautifully fashioned into the family likeness.
This last truth stunned me this morning when I heard it again: Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. Isaiah 64:4