Sometimes life throws us some difficult curve balls. One wonders if God is really in control or even cares about what’s happening. Those are time times I am reminded of the verses from Jeremiah 29:11-13
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.”
In the past few weeks friends and family members have faced the loss of loved ones through aging and suicide. I’ve spoke with someone who grew up in a cult and has just recently seen her 30-year-old sibling come out of the cult. I’ve watched more and more people deal with health issues, job losses, financial difficulties, facing consequences for breaking the law, and marital problems. I want to ask God, “If He really cares, why doesn’t He do something to stop the pain?”
A while back I studied Carol Kent’s book Between a Rock and a Grace Place and tonight I found myself reflecting on a portion from her book:
If you too feel caught in one of those tight spots that seem unusually difficult, if not unbearable, I pray that you will come to realize that the pain of being in this place need not cause you to lose hope. If you press into the Rock instead of trying to get around it, you will discover a surprise far better than a birthday or a Christmas gift. On the road that is your life right now, you can find a new way of thinking about your circumstances, as well as an astonishing experience of grace, tailor-made just for you. As you encounter God on the way, not in the way, you may come to know Him as you never have before. Remember what Olympian Eric Liddle said, ‘Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins.’
I’m so grateful God is in control of the universe from before time began. I’m glad we have the assurance that He cares so much for each of us that He blessed us with life-saving grace of His Son, Jesus Christ, our LORD.
Kent goes on to say, “God works best through broken people who know they do not have all the answers. He can use people who have exhausted their own resources and finally realize that negotiating the tight spots of life is not something they do by themselves.” I’m so grateful God uses ordinary people, people who have walked through pain and found the joy and hope only God can give.
Philip Yancey says, “The kind of faith God values seems to develop best when everything fuzzes over, when God stays silent, when the fog rolls in.” God gives more grace for each trial and burden that comes our way. The more we rely on Him, the more He answers and provides for us in ways that could only come from His hand.
Abundantly grateful for God’s presence through the difficult circumstances of our lives.
I was reading through our Maundy Thursday worship service and was just humbled by what Jesus has done for us. The service is first person readings of accounts from Gethsemane to the crucifixion. One portion is Jesus telling how He was praying alone in the garden after leaving Peter, James and John a little farther away to pray. After praying an hour, he returned to find his closest friends asleep instead of praying for Him. Jesus say, “Why now, Father, I need comfort and support from my disciples and Satan lures them into sleep.” After it happens the second time, Jesus is portrayed as thinking, “My Father knew I needed support as I prepared for what was coming. Yet Satan was determined that I should walk this path alone.”
I’ve learned from a lot of people who suffer with chronic illnesses that there are so many times they feel alone. It gets old when someone asks, “How are you doing?” and you have to decide how much to tell them. The meds have changed again. The weather is affecting how your body responds today. You overdid yesterday and you are paying for it today. Dealing with insurance claims and payments are more burdensome. People who used to be close friends have distanced themselves because they don’t know how to help. … The list goes on. These types of thoughts and feelings lead those who are suffering with an incredible feeling of facing life alone. I know, I’ve been there. Fortunately, it’s only been for short periods of time.
I have learned that no one can give me the support and understanding that I need 100% of the time. My husband has job stresses. My daughter is busy with her family. Friends are dealing with their lives. I have learned there is only ONE CONSTANT, and that is God, my Heavenly Father. I’ve shared about the job loss two years ago, and sensing every time I prayed for new clients, a new job, what to do, God kept leading with – WAIT! Two years can go by quickly, but when you are waiting for something and you don’t know what it is, it can be forever. However, when we wait relying on God, we are filled with a calm (that Satan will definitely try to steal) that goes beyond understanding and human logic. Reading this perspective of what Jesus went through and the cry of, “Why now God, when I need You so much, do You seem so distant and my friends can’t support me either?”
Almost every time I’ve had a “waiting from God period” it has turned out to be a blessing that I couldn’t see. God was using that time to prepare me for what was to come. Recently, He showed me that even my obedience in writing this blog has been a learning experience for what is to come on the job He provided 2 years later. I’m bowled over by His planning, providing, leading, preparing. He is the master life-coordinator. If I just surrender to, listen and obey what He is telling me to do, it would happen without so much doubt, pain, frustration, impatience, etc.
I remembered the part of the Holy Week story where Jesus is “abandoned” by God on the cross. Where Christ suffers hell for us. But I guess I hadn’t really thought about His understanding that He knows the pain we feel when answers aren’t coming easily, when friends don’t support us, when family members aren’t there for us, or even when God is silent. He knows our pain and hurt. So He holds us closely when we cry to Him, “How long?” “Why?” “Where are You?” He knows the pain in our heart and empathizes in ways we can never show. When you’re struggling with feelings of being abandoned, alone, unloved, unsupported – run into His loving, open, understanding arms.
Praying you may be filled with God’s peace as you listen and wait for His leading ~ Faye
Time. For some a week, month or year are but a blink of the eye, particularly from hindsight. But for others time trudges on – waiting for test results, living with chronic or terminal illnesses, serving a prison sentence, or trying to understand what the future holds can all make time seem to stand still.
In this world of all its worries and cares, there’s a simple little song that I find can calm my heart and bring me back to the perspective that God has all things in His control — In His Time.
We are hardwired to “do something”, especially in this fast-paced culture. So resting and waiting doesn’t come naturally. We want action. Waiting for God seems counterintuitive to what we believe we want and should do. An In Touch devotional reminded me that “waiting for the Lord means to pause for further instruction while remaining in the present circumstance. It is a purposeful, expectant focus on God — a choice to be actively still and quiet in our hearts, listening for His voice and watching for His intervention. The wait is not for events to work out as we want, but rather for God’s will to be done.”
We must surrender and submit to God. The photo of the ice on the berries reminds me clearly of that. This photo was taken December 2007 following an ice storm in the Midwest. Little did we know the beauty of that ice would be the beginning of massive flooding in June 2008. The devastation of the flood was overwhelming for many. But now, three and a half years later, many of us have been able to see the “beauty” God has brought through those difficult times. My husband and I personally saw God’s hand in the provisions of friends opening their home to us for 12 1/2 weeks!, saving most of the “things” in our basement, getting involved in flood recovery, and precious new friendships with people whom we likely would not have met without God’s intervening.
I can find myself so frustrated at waiting. How will I use my time and gifts that God has blessed me with? Sitting around seems like such a waste. But I’m finding more and more that in those waiting periods, if I am actively waiting and listening for God to lead and provide, He blows me away. What seems like delayed timing from my view is perfect timing from God’s viewpoint. The all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present God, Creator of all things and Lord of the universe can never be late.
The more I pour out my heart to Him, spend time with Him in prayer and His word and the more I intentionally bring my worries and concerns to Him, the more He shows me very clearly He IS there. He’s always paying attention. He knows intimately what we need. And if we keep looking for Him, He shows us clearly that He is there.
Twice this week I had times of, “Ok God! I get it. You are paying attention to my needs and You do care.” Running my home business, I need to pay for the more expensive TurboTax software. Well, being more frugal these days, I’ve been watching the sales and Internet, but realized the local club store had the best deal. However, I thought I’d keep watching for something better. Thursday morning I woke with the clear impression to head over to the store for the software. I walked in, and they handed me a flyer. The store had an unadvertised $10 discount on that item for the next four days. I could have just accepted it as coincidence, but I’ve learned those are God moments. Friday I had an auto maintenance scheduled. As I pulled into the garage Thursday, the car made an awful noise. So Friday I spoke to the mechanic about it. The fan belt was cracked and showing signs of pieces coming off. Praise God I wasn’t out driving in country roads and stranded, or it broke and caused more damage, and that I had the appointment already. God even provided for the majority of the cost of the repair with a dental reimbursement check.
Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. — Ecclesiastes 3:11
Praying you will sense God’s abundant blessing of peace and calm as you actively wait for His plans and timing ~ Faye
I really appreciate Jeremiah 29:11 and even verses 12 & 13. These are GREAT words of assurance – knowing God has plans for us. But if these verses are read in context, this is from a letter from Jeremiah the prophet, to the people who were going to live in exile for 70 years! I’m sure there were days they wondered if God had forgotten His chosen people. I’m sure there were days they wondered if God really knew what plans He had in store for His people.
To know that God intentionally exiled His people and told them to multiply, plan to live there and be productive and after 70 years He would come and do all the good that He had promised. God warned the people to stay away from the evils of the land.
I’m “only” 55. I can’t imagine knowingly living 70 years in a land of exile that was planned by God. Going forward only with the promise that He would come after 70 years and “do for the Israelites all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.”
I’m grateful God is in control of my life. I’m grateful He has a plan for my life. As you read verses 12 and 13 it becomes clear that God wants His people to draw continually closer to Him.
As I said in my previous post, life has been a roller coaster ride the past couple of weeks. Some of the tension was due to the fact my husband gets about 10 days vacation over the holidays, and I’m used to being home alone all day ;-). There was a day this week I was at odds with everybody, including my husband. I finally asked him to let me have some alone time / God time. I realized I needed my “exile time” from everyone else, except God. The busyness of the holidays, family get-togethers, travel, a medical procedure all created tension and didn’t allow for much individual quiet time with God. Oh I spent time talking with Him – on the run. I read His word – quickly. I just hadn’t spent time just relishing in God’s presence; being filled with God’s embracing of my heart.
I know God has plans for my life – but there are times when I would really like to know God’s plans. Prior to my husband’s medical procedure, I’d like to have known the outcome (which was good). After losing a significant income source, I’d like to know God’s plan for our financial future. After dealing with relationship issues, I’d like to know how they will be resolved. But if I knew those plans ahead of time, I’d also know ahead of time that I would be living with chronic illnesses long before the symptoms appeared. Would it have helped? Maybe, but maybe it would have made me rely on what I could do instead of what God has done through me as I’ve learned my strength to handle the illnesses comes from Him.
God’s timing is always perfect. He knows fully the plans He has for us, even before we were created. We are blessed He is in control of all things.
Jeremiah 29:10-13 ‒
10 This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
Enjoy the blessings of God’s perfect plan for you, and precious times of exile with Him! ~ Faye
It has been a period of waiting and watching, seeing where God is leading after being unexpectedly underemployed since February 2010. During this time I’ve felt God’s leading, poking, prodding, and refining – much of which I’ve not accepted graciously or patiently. However, in the past few weeks God’s been guiding me to consider writing a blog. This is against every desire I’ve every had. I can’t imagine why I am doing this, but I’m trying to be obedient as at each and every step as He has gently pushed me in this direction. Obviously it’s not a paid position, so I’m still not sure where He’s going with this. However, God has incredibly and abundantly blessed our financial resources since 2010 so that our needs, and many of our wants, have been met time and again. So with many uncertainties, some of which are content, frequency, and promotion, I’m doing my best to be obedient and praying that in the days ahead you will find words of blessing and encouragement here. A song that continually goes through my mind is While I’m Waiting by John Waller. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bb7TSGptd3Y. How often do I worship and serve God while I’m waiting for His direction or for answers to prayers?
When I am intentional about my looking for God’s abundant blessings and presence, I am rarely disappointed. Praying God showers you with some of His glorious riches.
God’s richest blessings ~