How long will you ignore me, O Lord? Forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I lay up cares within me and have sorrow in my heart day after day? How long shall my enemy exalt himself over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; lighten the eyes of my faith to behold Your face in the pitch-like darkness, lest I sleep the sleep of death, Lest my enemy say, I have prevailed over him, and those that trouble me rejoice when I am shaken.
These are the words of an aching heart. Words spoken in utter hopelessness and despair. Words that imply a God of indifference, unsympathetic, and unmoved by one’s predicament. These, my friend, are the words of the one and only ‘man after God’s own heart’. Yes, THE–‘who dare defy the God of Israel; I will slay this filthy Philistine with a slingshot and stone’–King David (Psalm 13).
Have you experienced an unexpected adversity? Is the pain of that adversity compounded by the disappointment of knowing that God could change it–even prevent it? You pray, yet there is silence from heaven? As a matter of fact, things are going exactly opposite of your prayers?
When I had my first child, my hearts’ desire had shifted from career to home. No one prepared me for the intense pull in my heart to be at home with my child, and we didn’t plan for a workforce exit–hadn’t even discussed it! The infrastructure of the life we’d built was so high-cost that leaving work wasn’t an option. None of that stopped me from praying about it, though. I prayed and pleaded with God to help TJ and I find a way for me to come home from work. Seeing as TJ came home a short while later with news of his workforce reduction, I’ll say God answered my prayer with an emphatic no. TJ had lost his job. He would be at home, not me. I can’t even put into words the disappointment I felt. Not so much in him, but in God. Truthfully, I felt completely betrayed by God, and that was hard to admit.
Initially, I thought this was a chance for God to do something special in our lives. I kept looking for something awesome to turn our situation for the better. Perhaps TJ would land a job that paid more than enough to recover what was lost, and bring me home! Yes, that was it. I could see what God was doing, and I was excited!
Then time passed. A lot of it. Weeks turned into months, turned into years. There were no offers in sight, I became increasingly anxious. Our money had run out, basic necessities were now running on credit. My man was hustling! He drove limos. He decorated office buildings. Surely this is not what God had in mind for us? My prayers became less patient, more desperate. It seemed that everywhere we turned options were limited, and opportunities were dissipating like the steam from a boiling water pot. Financially, we’d cut all that we could cut. We put the house on the market. No doors were opening. I, like David, began to wonder if God had forgotten me? Had He turned his attention from my predicament with disinterest in helping? Father? Do you hear me? Like David, I also whined and complained. I can’t say if I was more afraid of being homeless or being godless. But there was a lot of fear, worry, and complaint.
God had us in a holding pattern. All I could do was pray and wait. Or should I say beg, plead, bargain, and cry myself to sleep each night? Where I felt our situation warranted God’s immediate intervention, He did not.
When God puts you in a holding pattern, you might as well sit down, save your energy, and learn to wait. How might you tell that it’s a God ordained holding pattern?
When God orders everything around you in such a manner that you can’t move: you have the knowledge, the network, the credentials, the experience, and/or the expertise, but none of that has yielded results. Holding. When you just lack the opportunity, or timing of certain key events won’t align. Holding. When you otherwise have every (earthly) thing present that is needed to get what you want or where you are trying to go, but it just isn’t happening. Holding!
So, how do you get through the hold? Well, I have much to say about that, but for today, let’s look at David:
But I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me.
Trust God. It’s one thing to say we trust God. It looks totally different to actually trust God! What it looks like is staring your fear in the face, and refusing to allow your emotions to drive you to action that God didn’t tell you to take (obedience). Trusting God looks like releasing the white-knuckled grasp you have on that dream or ideal outcome, and submitting it to God. Trusting God looks like opening your heart and your will to His dream and His ideal outcome (surrender).
During my situation, it was easy to trust God as long as I thought I knew what He was doing! When I didn’t see things going as I thought they would. I melted. My faith began to fail: could God be trusted? The holding pattern is designed to prove that, in fact, He can be.
Shift Your Focus. As David stopped focusing on (worrying about) his predicament, quit complaining, and got out of his emotions, he began to think about God’s love and salvation. David considered God’s unfailing love, and his heart became glad. You can’t help feeling comforted by the thought of God’s love. And if you can remember God’s love, you are forced to think about God’s character, which brings you to remember that He has saved your soul. If He’s saved your soul, won’t He save your life also? David rejoiced in God’s salvation. The bible says that the joy of the Lord is our strength. Begging, pleading, bargaining, and crying left me feeling desperate and hopeless. Singing the Lord’s praises, and worshiping Him strengthens the soul, fuels hope, and it pleases God. Let’s take a page out of David’s book, exercise trust in God. Sing praises to the Lord, for He is good–even when what we are going through doesn’t feel good. Yes, your Father can hear you. Yes, He does care. He can be trusted. Keep holding. He’s about to prove it!