Last week was a roller coaster ride for our family.
One day we were riding high on the realization that we had a purchase agreement on our Minnesota house and could move forward with plans for a new home in Florida and our ministry there. Two days later we were in the valley of disappointment as the purchase agreement with the buyers fell through— we were back to square one, with no idea what we will do for housing in Florida this summer. I confess that I spent many hours the past few nights talking with God and processing what He is trying to teach me in these uncertain times.
An important piece of God’s answer came to me early Sunday morning as I sat in our living room reading my Bible. As I started to put it away, I noticed a magazine article that someone (i.e. my wife!) left open (intentionally!) on the end table. The article was an extensive study about waiting for God when it is hard to see His answer and timing. As I read, God’s Word and peace began to permeate my mind and heart. In the next few days, God’s answer continued to come through conversations and meetings with my sister, my brother, and a pastor who have encouraged and provided Godly counsel and help through these days. I also remembered how richly blessed Terese and I have been through many people (including our realtor) who have prayed for us and demonstrated Christ’s love and care in our life and circumstances. Even though the final answer still isn’t apparent to us, here are ten “first-take” lessons I am learning through this time:
- God’s thoughts are not my thoughts, and His plans and ways are higher and better than my ways (see Isaiah 55:8). When we get past the frustration of not seeing plans or timing come together as we thought they would, there can be great peace and joy in resting in God’s sovereign plans. He is in control.
- God is more interested in sculpting us for an eternity with Him than He is simply placating us in our passing circumstances. Our struggles are light and momentary ones and will pale in comparison to the beyond-compare eternity that Jesus is preparing for us right not. That stated, God also cares about us and for us in the hard times of life. He will never stop being the ever-true, never-failing Father who will never leave us alone.
- God’s desire is that we want Him more than the things He gives to us. One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When we desire the stuff God graciously gives us more than His presence, we are actually worshipping ourselves and making material things false gods. God knows what we need, so love Him, trust Him, and let go of everything else.
- Those who worship God honor Him by waiting for Him and on Him. I believe the prophet Isaiah had this in mind when he wrote:
” …those 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. “
- God is not surprised by the challenges in our life, as He is before the beginning and after the ending, and is in control. With this in mind, God reminds us to trust Him and not despair. He is working everything together according to His master plan, and He has a great outcome awaiting us!
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
1 Peter 4:12-13
- God can handle our cries and pleas through the storms of life, so go ahead and pour out your heart to Him in your prayers and thoughts, just like the Psalmist did:
“But I will call on God, and the LORD will rescue me. Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the LORD hears my voice. He ransoms me and keeps me safe from the battle waged against me…” — Psalm 55:16-18
- God also calls us to keep our eyes on Jesus above the problems and challenges we experience. The Bible put it this way:
” Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.” Hebrews 12:2
- Our desire should be that God is spotlighted and credited with the victory and answer that will eventually come. Thanking and acknowledging God for both little and big things in your life is a key to maintaining spiritual health and perspective while waiting for God’s answer to be manifested in our circumstances.
- All the way to the end of our struggles, true worshippers can be strengthened by God to stand firm in Him. There is a crown of life waiting for those who hang in there with God and don’t succumb to the downward pull of the world and the enemy of our soul.
“Resist [the enemy}, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:9
- Finally, the key to persevering through uncertain times is allowing God’s Holy Spirit to fill us, give us peace, and help us to wait. For me, this is both a prayer and an ongoing decision to relinquish my thoughts, emotions, and plans to Him, and bask in His presence.
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
Pam Holland is a gifted worship leader with whom I have had the privilege of serving. A few years ago Pam and I recorded the song ‘God Who Answers” that I wrote during a time of uncertainty and waiting. I hope it encourages you in whatever challenge you are experiencing.
God bless you.