My Expectations, God’s Timing
Have you ever written the question mark symbol several times after a question that you’ve written? If so, was it because you were giving emphasis, or was it out of frustration? We all encounter situations where we receive no answers to the questions we are asking. How many times have we cried out to the Lord asking, “How long is this going to continue? When are You going to answer? Have You forgotten me?”
David, whom God had anointed king, and who ran from King Saul for eight or nine years, vented about this issue in Psalm 13. With a horizontal focus, four times David pours out his lament, “How long?” He asks God if He has forgotten him or if God will let his enemy win over him.
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? (Psalm 13:1-2 ESV)
This has been my heart’s cry for over seven years as I have struggled with a personal situation. Nothing seems to change, and in some ways, things have gotten more difficult. There have been no answers to the hundreds of questions I have asked. Several of my friends are dealing with the “How long?” issue also. “How long will my child be a prodigal?” “How long will our family have to deal with a family member’s addiction?” And now, people around the world are asking, “How long will COVID-19 continue to impact our lives?”
Can you see David on his knees, petitioning before the Lord? He is reliving experiences and suffering, wondering if God is ever going to fulfill His promise to make him king over Israel.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:5-6 ESV)
David says, “I have trusted.” It isn’t, “I will trust when I receive the answers.” It is as though David stands up, wipes the dust from his knees, lifts his arms high, and declares the truth he knows from his mind and heart. The truth is that God’s steadfast love had seen him through everything. By faith he trusted in God’s salvation, and by grace he knew God’s great mercy and faithfulness. Therefore, he could proclaim, “He has dealt bountifully with me.”
“Will I trust Him?” becomes the question I have to ask myself. God doesn’t need my help. You nor I can change an individual or their choices. We are only responsible for our own decisions. My “How long?” is teaching me to focus on His promise to be faithful (Hebrews 10:32) and that He will never leave me or forsake me (Heb 13:5b, 6). Even in the most challenging moments, He is always there!
As I cry out to Him, I find myself reading the Psalms and underlining every reference to His steadfast love and faithfulness. My gratitude list has grown, and I’ve learned to praise Him more. The “How long?” question has gradually turned into, “What are You trying to teach me through this situation?”
Friend, what questions are you asking today? How long have you been crying out to the Lord, waiting for Him to answer your prayers and work in a situation? Spend some time before the Lord as David did, and remember His steadfast love, faithfulness, mercy, and grace to you. While you wait, sing and praise the Lord!
2 Kings 23:3 The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD–to follow the LORD and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.
When Josiah heard the words read to him from the Book of the Law, he was responsive and humbled himself. He gathered the elders of Israel and the people of Jerusalem and read to them the words of the covenant. When something from God’s word has gripped our hearts, we should share it with others and not keep it to ourselves.
Then Josiah took the first step. He renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD. He didn’t skip the words “with all your heart and soul.” He was pledging himself to be the servant of God and to live in complete obedience to every requirement the LORD had given Israel. Once he did, the people followed, pledging themselves too. When someone stands up and does what is right in a world engulfed in compromise, it can have a great effect on all who see him. It touched the heart of the nation and gave them one last great revival.
It was too late to save the nation though. The sins of the kings before Josiah had to be accounted for. There was too much evil sown in the land and in the hearts and minds of the nation. Judgment had to come as God had promised. Was the revival in vain? Sin causes havoc in the present life and judgment in the life to come. All who turned from idolatry were spared from the consequences of the sins they would have committed. Revival is never in vain, even though judgment must still come. It gave people one more chance to turn to God before it arrived.
Consider: It is never too late for you to set an example for others to follow.
Triumphant Faith – Streams in the Desert – July 15
- 202115 Jul
It is easy to love Him when the blue is in the sky,
When summer winds are blowing, and we smell the roses nigh;
There is little effort needed to obey His precious will
When it leads through flower-decked valley, or over sun-kissed hill.
It is when the rain is falling, or the mist hangs in the air,
When the road is dark and rugged, and the wind no longer fair,
When the rosy dawn has settled in a shadowland of gray,
That we find it hard to trust Him, and are slower to obey.
It is easy to trust Him when the singing birds have come,
And their canticles are echoed in our heart and in our home;
But ’tis when we miss the music, and the days are dull and drear,
That we need a faith triumphant over every doubt and fear.
And our blessed Lord will give it; what we lack He will supply;
Let us ask in faith believing–on His promises rely;
He will ever be our Leader, whether smooth or rough the way,
And will prove Himself sufficient for the needs of every day.
To trust in spite of the look of being forsaken; to keep crying out into the vast, whence comes no returning voice, and where seems no hearing; to see the machinery of the world pauselessly grinding on as if self-moved, caring for no life, nor shifting a hair-breadth for all entreaty, and yet believe that God is awake and utterly loving; to desire nothing but what comes meant for us from His hand; to wait patiently, ready to die of hunger, fearing only lest faith should fail–such is the victory that overcometh the world, such is faith indeed.
Faith—Forgiving From the Heart
Scripture Reading — Matthew 18:21-35
“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?” — Matthew 18:21
With considerable personal discomfort, I share today’s thoughts with you.
At the age of 29, my wife mentioned that her knees felt numb. Neither of us was greatly concerned. But we were naïve: that was the beginning of a very challenging journey. The numbness was a symptom of multiple sclerosis. As her symptoms became more troublesome, we knew there was a serious problem. She needed an arm to lean on when climbing stairs; her vision doubled; her stamina decreased. As the years became decades of loss, her description was sadly apt: “I am dying by inches.”
To say that we struggled is an understatement. My wife did, our family did, I did. And I wasn’t always the loving and caring husband I should have been and had promised to be.
One evening, as we were visiting in the nursing home that was her “home” for eight years, I knew I had to speak about this uncomfortable truth with her. Why on that evening? I don’t know, but I’m convinced God’s Spirit was at work. So I said, “Thelma, there were times I didn’t treat you well. I was impatient, unkind, and unloving far too often. I am very sorry.”
Her response amazed me: “I don’t remember that.” She had not only forgiven; she had forgotten! How gracious, loving, kind, and generous! And healing. She forgave as Jesus calls us to—from the heart. I thank her, and I thank God.
Lord, thank you for people who forgive well. Please help us to be forgivers too. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
“This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.” – Judges 7:14 NIV
God told Gideon that He would give the Midianites into his hands. But to Gideon, this seemed impossible. This adversary seemed to have every advantage.
Despite God’s promise, Gideon was afraid and lacked confidence. So, God asked him to sneak into the enemy camp to listen to what they were saying. God knew he would be encouraged.
At first, Gideon remained overwhelmed. The Midianite army was vast and “thick as locusts” (v. 12). They were heavily equipped with more camels than could be counted. But then he heard a Midianite share a dream in which he declared that God already had given the Midianites into the hands of Israel. Gideon realized that Midian expected defeat.
It became clear to Gideon that God would accomplish what He promised. He still felt inadequate and overwhelmed at his challenge, but he was learning that his role was to trust and obey God and realize that God was at work.
You may have doubts about the challenges you face. The obstacles you confront may seem impossible to overcome. You may not see any indication that God is doing anything to answer your prayers. But the Bible assures us that you always can trust Him. His promises always are true.
Realize that God is at work in your life and the world. You may not see tangible results but have confidence. He is accomplishing His purposes. You can trust Him.