Sometimes it is so easy to see God moving in our lives and sometimes it seems like He isn’t moving at all. It’s so easy to lose heart and allow ourselves to become discouraged when we do not see.
Recently, I’ve been walking through a season of not seeing. I pray and it seems like nothing happens. I read my bible and I feel like God is silent. During this time, in the span of a week, I had two different people tell me how faithful I am even when it’s hard. I was stunned. People look at me and see faithfulness in a time where I feel anything but faithful. If I’m being completely honest, I have felt as though all of my faith and trust has been sucked dry. Some days I have felt like I have nothing left to give, like I cannot go on.
And that made me ponder why and how I’ve stuck with Jesus even when it feels as though He has forgotten me. How do we fight through discouragement and choose hope? How do we remain devoted to God when it feels like He does not care? In the next few blog posts we will look at the “hows”, but first we must address the “why”.
At this point in my life, my “why” is pretty simple. I have been through many seasons, good and bad. I have seen how things go when I have chosen to trust Him even when I do not see Him moving. Alternatively, I have seen how things turn out when I choose to push Him away and depend solely on myself. The results are vastly different.
The times where I decided to take matters into my own hands and pushed Jesus out of the equation, things fell apart quickly and I’ve had no hope. But when I’ve chosen to trust, even when things seem to be falling apart, there is always hope, because Jesus provides the answers. You see, my faithfulness has little to do with me, and everything to do with what I know of God’s character.
Jeremiah spoke a prophetic word over Israel that we like to quote, often out of context. He said:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”” (Jeremiah 29:11-14)
It is easy for us to forget the context of this verse that talks about God’s good plans for us. We forget that God let them be taken into captivity. He sent them into exile. The same God who has good plans for us also allows us to go through seasons of pain and struggle. And in those times of captivity it can be almost impossible to see what He is doing. Why would a God who loves us allow us to go through seasons of pain?
I’m not sure anyone can ever fully answer that question. And as I’m in the midst of a season of difficulty, I can honestly say that I’m not sure any answer would currently satisfy me fully. But I do know that He has promised that He will bring me out of this season. This will not last forever. There is a promised land on the other side of my wilderness.
And, while I am in this wilderness, I know that it is not wasted. Jesus is using this time to grow and develop me. He is stretching me and cultivating my faith. If I jumped straight into the promised land my faith would be weak and I’d be dependent on perfect circumstances to find contentment and happiness. I would be spoiled and would only love Jesus because of what He gives me, not because of who He is. I know that I will come out on the other side ready to flourish in the promises.
Some of you might be reading this thinking that you do not have this same history with Jesus. You don’t have the experiences that say that you can trust Him to be faithful and to bring you through the storms of life. You might be asking why you should choose to depend on Him even though you cannot see Him moving on your behalf. To that, I would say, “why not?”
If you are anything like me, and you are going through a wilderness season, you feel like you have done everything that you can. You are at the end of your rope. Maybe, like me, you feel like you have no options and you have no idea how to move forward. And if you are out of options, what is the harm in choosing to surrender and just trust Jesus? What do you have to lose?
You might just find that He has a good plan for you. A plan that is better than what you envisioned for yourself. I think often it is easy for us to grow disappointed with God simply because we are not getting our way. We cross our arms, and stomp our feet, and push God away because He did not do things the way that we wanted Him to. And we miss out on all that He has for us. We never get to see that His plan for us is more than just surviving. He wants us to thrive. He wants to grow us and bless us.
Luke 12:32 says, “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.” I love this verse because it is a reminder that it gives Jesus joy to take care of us and to pour into us. He delights in giving us good gifts, in seeing us develop and burst forth into abundant life. If He isn’t doing it your way, it’s not because He isn’t good, and it isn’t because He doesn’t love you. If God is not doing things your way, it’s because His plans and dreams for you are bigger and better than you can even fathom.
So if you are in a season where you do not see, don’t lose heart. You may not see Him working, but it does not mean He is not moving. Choose to trust. Don’t give up. The promise land He has for you is worth the wilderness.