Are you waiting on God for unfulfilled longings?
Sometimes trusting God is hard. Today I’m weary and a frazzled. I forgot to admit how weak I am and have been trying to manage life. I haven’t been leaning on and resting in God this morning.
You know what just helped me in this moment? It was realizing that even though everything God does turns out good — actually, absolutely wonderful, because He’s the giver of every good and perfect gift with no shadow at all (James 1:17) — but while God leads His people to good, the situation usually looks bad. That has almost always been not just what He does sometimes, but God’s usual pattern. How encouraging!
God told Noah he would marvelously deliver him and his family from the coming flood, and He did. But between the promise and the deliverance, Noah endured around a century of hard work and ridicule building the ark. What if he hadn’t hung in there?
God promised Abraham he would father an entire nation in a good land God would give them. And God did. Eventually. And it was worth the wait. But in the meantime, what Abraham saw was many more years as a nomad in the land that wasn’t his yet with a barren wife. If Abraham hadn’t left home and followed God the whole way, there would have been no story of God’s grace through Israel.
Joseph saw dreams of ruling but then spent years as a slave and a prisoner before they were fulfilled.
Moses and God’s people spent forty years wandering in the wilderness, dependent on God for daily food, drink and guidance before they got to the land God had promised to give them and had rescued them from Pharaoh to take them to. Even when they did get there, they had to trust God and fight the old inhabitants for possession of the land.
God told David He chose him as Israel’s next king, and then David endured years running for his life from king Saul before his reign began.
God told Paul he was going to take the gospel to the Gentiles, but it was 13 years before that ministry started and then was filled with hardships, imprisonment, conflicts with other believers, snakes and shipwrecks before he finally finished the race and received the crown of righteousness. What if he had given up? Would you and I know of the grace of Christ?
Jesus came to free and redeem us and conquer sin and death, but on the way was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, bruised, and crushed. He endured the cross and shame because His focus was the joy beyond it. (Hebrews 12:2)
It’s hard to think of a time when God has made a promise of good followed by pleasant experiences with a full view in sight of the way God would work things out from promise to fulfillment.
Sometimes circumstances look bleak, and I get the wrong impression that I’d better jump in and try to manage things in order for them to turn out well. But that’s always the opposite of what God calls His people to. He just wants us to trust and follow, though His chosen road often won’t look like the promising path. Seek, acknowledge and follow God and His direction. Don’t understand. (Proverbs 3:5) Find peace only in Him. In this world, expect trouble, but don’t ever lose heart. Let the one who overcame the world strengthen our hearts. (John 16:33)
I don’t see fulfillment yet, but I will trust today. I will not try to manage. I will follow Him. Like Sarah, I will count on receiving God’s power because, no matter what my eyes see today or how bleak the circumstances look, I consider him faithful who has promised. (Hebrews 11:11)
In the beloved Psalm 23,
“He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”
Comes immediately before
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
Could it be, no, it seems He’s saying, righteousness requires that He lead us through dark valleys.
But He is with us. So we’ll walk by faith through the valleys. It’s impossible to please Him any other way. “So do not throw away your confidence. It will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” (Hebrews 10:35-36)
We’ll set our eyes and hearts on the promise that He who started a good work in each of us will carry it on to completion until Christ comes. (Philippians 1:6) And He will use everything toward that end – conforming us to the image of Jesus. (Romans 8:28-29) And the end will be glorious!