God is Always Up to Something
by Sharon Betters
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (ESV)
Throughout the Psalms, we read the lament, “How long, oh Lord, how long?”
Many of you whisper or shout that question every day, numerous times a day. A prodigal child, an abusive husband, too many bills, no job, broken relationships, unending grief, childhood memories of abuse and abandonment – take your pick. The cries of the Psalmists comforted and encouraged me in my own grief journey. What encouraged me even more was how their laments lead them to trust the Lord no matter what.
When their eyes lifted upward, away from their circumstances, toward their faithful God, He filled them with hope. God called on each woman in the genealogy of Jesus to hard places. Surely they struggled to fix their eyes on their God, rather than their circumstances, and surely, the history of their God working behind the scenes fueled their resolve to keep their eyes fixed on Him.
Sometimes when we are hurting, we conclude the only resources that can help us are specifically about our circumstances. For example, when we lost Mark, I read every book I could find on grief. Though many were helpful, they weren’t enough. Watching God work behind the scenes in the lives of the very people, through whom the Messiah would come, encouraged me to trust that He is working behind the scenes in my life as well.
The book of Exodus traces the suffering of God’s people in Egypt. Though they suffered because they intentionally worshipped other gods, surely the enslaved Israelites wondered where God was when Pharaoh:
…ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field.
What about when Pharaoh feared the way the Israelites were multiplying and established a law for population control:
When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birth stool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.
God appeared to “have left the building” but the Hebrew midwives feared God and refused to obey the Pharaoh’s command. They let the little boys live. In response to Pharaoh’s demand for them to answer why these boys survived, the brave women responded:
The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.
God seemed absent as these courageous women stood their ground, fearing for their lives. But was He absent?
So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, He gave them families.
Ahh, a sigh of relief, God was working behind the scenes. Surely the tangible proof of His presence encouraged the enslaved Israelites to trust Him as they waited many more years before God sent Moses to lead His children to freedom. The journey of the Israelites parallels our own relationship to God through His son, Jesus. We are on this side of the cross, so as we read the Old Testament, we can see God pulling together every little detail required for the birth of the Messiah.
Are you struggling to wait on the Lord, concluding He is absent? Write out your questions in your journal and then read these passages, some of my favorite go-to verses. Take special note of each promise that though we might not see Him, God is working behind the scenes for His glory and for our good.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God.
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
I will go before you and will level the mountains, I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them, and the LORD will be with you.'
2 Chronicles 20:17
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the MARKINC website and listen to the interview “A Father's Love for a Son with Special Needs - A Conversation with Steve Demme" so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
Marriage can be difficult, but adding a child with special needs adds a new level of challenges. In this wide-ranging conversation, Steve Demme shares his passion for helping to strengthen marriages, and in particular, wants to offer help and hope to fathers. Even more specifically, to fathers of children with special needs.