May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
“May God fill”, the God of hope, it is the God of HOPE who does the filling. And HE fills with joy and peace…as I trust, the result is joy and peace filling me so that I then overflow with hope.
But here is the thing: I have trusted. I did trust. Its not that I have abandoned trust, after all, what are the alternatives? My theology is worthless if God is not actually sovereign, not actually fully in control of all things, not actually certain to accomplish every detail of His good, holy and perfect will. But, I guess the best image I can think of right now is that its more like God and I are doing what 1-2 year olds do, “parallel playing”, rather than engaging one another. And, my being “not God” means that I can’t force Him to engage with me on my terms but that I just have to keep waiting. And, though all those “uplifting songs for the family” on the radio proclaim getting stronger in the waiting, well, lets just say waiting is doing very little for making me admirable or healthy in any way. Then again, I suppose, “trust” means that even this season that seems to be causing me to waste away not just to invisibility but worse, decay and stench, is also part of His good, pleasing and perfect will?
How long o Lord? How LONG?
When our ancestors were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known. He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up; he led them through the depths as through a desert. He saved them from the hand of the foe; from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them. The waters covered their adversaries; not one of them survived. Then they believed his promises and sang his praise. But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold. Psalm 106:7-13
I am clearly one of His people, even to my quick forgetfulness and refusal to wait for Him. I am an ancestor of Abraham, having received the promise, experienced captivity, experienced rescue and then going in search of a golden calf if that could bring relief to my waiting. Moses was up on top of the mountain just too long to reasonably expect patience. Hmmm…and that is where the Good News comes in.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Gal. 5:22
Even patience is the work of God, accomplished by Jesus, applied to my heart by the Holy Spirit. Even patience in the waiting is not mine to muster up, white knuckle or will of myself with a clenched jaw. But what do I do then? This dissonance is physically stressful, emotionally grueling and mentally disorienting. How do I wait for His plan to unfold when we actually need tuition money from a job I can’t seem to acquire, when relationships feel strained in my heart in ways that I can’t resolve, when my vision is muddled but the days keep passing?
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. Psalm 6:2-4Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. John 6:68
Where else can I go? When Jesus was in anguish, weary, exhausted, “on empty”, terrified, depleted and otherwise aware of the weakness of His humanity, He didn’t “dig deep” or “pull it together” or “snap out of it” or strain for a more positive perspective or make new resolutions. He knew that His weakness could only be satisfied by the Father. How much more so is this true for me? The answers will not be found anywhere else. Strength will not be gained anywhere else. Love for others will not come from any other source. Patience can’t be faked, at least not indefinitely. He alone can handle my frustration, disappointment, wounds and confusion. He alone can bring an end to this season that apparently, like Mr. Miyagi’s strange training techniques, is in fact working out His good purposes for me. May He quiet me, settle me, gentle me and fill me with His righteousness.
The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. Is. 32:17