What do you do when you cannot see what God is doing in your life or a situation you are in? How do you respond when things aren’t quite going the way you expected or hoped they would go?
I know my flesh answer and it’s not too very encouraging. Usually at first I can tell myself it will all be fine, but then the millennial inside of me kicks in and I let all the doubts take over. I convince myself that I have to come up with a solution. I put it upon myself to help God figure out how to help me (ridiculous, I know!). But it’s real. It happened just last week.
So, how should I have responded? How should we as followers of Jesus respond when we can’t see or understand what God is doing? How should we respond when it doesn’t seem like He is doing anything at all?
Well, as we should, let’s go to the Bible to figure it out! There are a million different places that we could go to see examples of this, including (but not exclusive to) Joseph (Genesis 37-46), Jacob (Genesis 29), Moses (Exodus 2-16), David (most of the Psalms, I & II Samuel, etc), Esther, Ruth, and Jonah and all of this is just the Old Testament! The list goes on and on of examples of people who were chosen by God to make His name known BUT it wasn’t always that easy. Their stories are ones of trial and hardship of doubts and laments. This life does not always make sense. It is not straight forward (and it’s not promised to be).
So again, how should we respond? What is our answer to this? What should be the response of the child of God.
Based on what I have found in Scripture, there is not a super straightforward answer. BUT one that I have found over and over again is simply to stop and remember.
Let’s look at Deuteronomy 8 to see a clear example of this.
We are jumping right into a long saga. The Israelites have had quite a journey to this point (feel free to read back through Numbers and even before to catch the whole journey) but what we need to know is that God has been with them through every step and we see that clearly recapped in Chapter 8. They are at a place where they really haven’t known what is ahead of them along the way (40+ years of not knowing). They have a promise from the Lord of a promised land and they have a faithful leader but outside of that, each day was full of mystery and I am sure they could not see what God ultimately was doing. (sound familiar?)
Ok, so let’s jump into Ch. 8 and see what Moses (their faithful leader) tells them to do next.
“The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers. And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not…. Take care lest you forget the Lord your God… lest when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water of out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘my power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth’. -Deuteronomy 8: 1-2,11a,12-17 (ESV)
I’m not sure it could be any more obvious than these verses.
What do I do when I don’t know what God is doing?
Well, first I stop. I stop doubting, I stop telling myself lies, I stop believing that I have to manipulate something, I just stop. And then once I have stopped (be still), I need to remember.
I have to go back to what is true and what is promised in Christ. That is what Moses did in these chapters.
He reminded them that God was with them. He reminded them that God was the one who fed them and He was the one who kept their steps straight. That even when they didn’t feel it, He was with them. He was leading them. And this true of us today. He will keep His promises. I can hold fast to that truth.
So I pray that this would be our response. That instead of continuing in our flesh, we would instead stop and remember our great God and in doing that, He will change our hearts and somehow in the process our worries, stresses, and impatience on His timing won’t seem like such a big deal anymore.
Lord, Help me! I am weak and quick to forget. I am hard hearted and I am quick to unbelief. Lord- prompt my heart to stop and then may I turn my eyes on your Son Jesus! May I remember all that you have done and in that Lord would you receive all of the Glory!