Time is a funny thing, isn’t it?
One minute can seem so short, or so very long depending on what’s occurring within that minute. If I am hugging my friend goodbye and she will be returning to her home far away, that one minute of hugs can pass so quickly. But if I am anxiously standing by my coffee maker at 5 a.m. waiting for it to finish my wake-up juice, that same minute is LONG. Watching my grandchildren play at the park for one minute seems far shorter than the one minute I spend jogging around that same park. Uncomfortable and painful situations take longer to change than happy ones, or at least so it seems.
2019 was a very difficult year for me. My heart, my faith and my strength were tested in a powerful way. That year seemed like the longest year of my life. (even after all the trials of 2020, 2019 was longer for me by far). It was a year of difficulty and heart break. It was a year of struggle and hurt. And when it was over, the new year emerged almost as a breath of fresh air.
I learned so very much that year. I learned to truly trust the process, the way that God works. Like you, I want God to work faster, more on my timetable. Because when I hurt, I want it to end quickly. But I learned that year, that some things can’t be rushed. That, in order for there to be beauty from ashes, something must first burn. I learned that refining fire is a real thing, and that impurities rise to the top first when heat is applied. When the “heat” was applied in my life during this time, I became more aware of some of my own weaknesses. I came face to face with trusting God in a solid and fresh way. The rubber met the road, metaphorically speaking.
During that time, I was encouraged by a friend with this scripture from a Psalm by King David. It is Psalm 27:13-14 “I remain confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; take heart and wait for the Lord.” I was especially encouraged by this because David was trusting God for His help in a circumstance, and he was counting on seeing God’s goodness here on earth.
King David had many trials and many foes. It seems like someone was almost always going after him. He cried out to God often for His help and guidance. In the beginning of Psalm 27, we find David in a struggle of some kind. Here, David seems to be reminding himself that he need not fear his enemies. In verse one he says, “The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?”. And again, in verse three, “though war break out against me, even then I will be confident”. He is remembering where his strength comes from. This is a definite strength of David’s. He understood well that God alone could rescue and save him. And that his enemies were greater than him and his men could handle without God’s divine intervention. It’s possible that David was in exile here.
But whatever the case, it’s clear that something was causing him great anguish. I understand that feeling wholeheartedly. Over the course of this Psalm, David developed a kind of “Even If” mentality. “God, even if my enemies surround me, God is my helper. Even if my family forsakes me, God will receive me. Even if trouble finds me, God will keep me safe in His dwelling.”
For me, in 2019, I embraced some “even if’s” as well. For me it looked like, even if things don’t turn around with this situation, God is with me. Even if things are never good again (regarding this issue), I can still trust God because He isn’t finished yet. Even if I continue to hurt and my heart continues breaking, it is because of evil in the world and not because this is God’s plan. Those even ifs were tough to swallow, I can promise you that. They did not slide down easily; they choked and scratched their way into my soul. But the Lord kept bringing many scriptures to mind, and Psalm 27;13-14 was among them.
I held on to the promise that God was not done writing that story, and that someday (and most days, someday felt very far off) I would see His goodness here, in this life. The Psalmist remained confident of that, and I chose to do the same. There were times that I struggled to believe it, but I clung to that verse like a life raft. Verse 14 told me to “wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart, and wait……” So, I waited.
And sought His face (vs. 8)
And waited some more.
And one day it happened.
I looked up and realized I was seeing the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! And day after day, I kept looking for it, and it kept coming! And before I had stopped to realize it, two years had passed, far more quickly than I ever thought they could. It had felt, for a while, like time stood still. Like nothing was happening. Like things were not getting any better. But when God is at work, things are changing behind the scenes, even though we may not see it from our point of view. John 5:17 “But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.””
He never stops working.
Maybe you are in a difficult season. Maybe you find yourself doubting that things will ever turn around. Maybe you feel trapped and discouraged, but you are never without hope. Charles Spurgeon said that “Hope is heavens balm for present sorrow.” I can always put my hope in the Lord and His ability to right wrongs, and to mend hearts.
We serve a God who is not intimidated by situations that seem impossible! The Israelites crossed The Red Sea, David won against Goliath, the walls of Jericho collapsed with just a shout, and Jesus Christ came back to life after death on a Roman cross! There is still hope when all seems hopeless.
Be strong and take heart sister. While you are waiting, God is working. Seek the Lord, keep trusting Him when it’s the hardest, and someday you will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. You can remain confident of that!