It was late 1998 and I was yet again on my face in my bedroom literally crying out to God for help. So much had changed in my life in recent months and it often felt like the shifting sands beneath my feet would never stabilize. I was tired of being sad.
In the darkness God spoke. I wrote these words in my journal…by faith: “You will laugh again.”
Laugh? I could hardly smile due to the weight of anxiety and sadness that was gripping my heart. When I considered the future I could only see more darkness.
- Are your circumstances closing in on you, tempting you to wonder if God really is in control?
- Are you discouraged over longstanding challenges or tension in cherished relationships? Does it seem like things are too broken to ever get better?
- Does fear grip your heart? Does it seem at times that God can’t care or that He has somehow lost sight of you?
- Are you afraid to hope things will change because you don’t want to be disappointed…again?
- Has it been too long since you really laughed?
You are not alone. 1998 wasn’t the only time in the past 15 years I’ve felt hopeless and found myself face down pleading for God’s help. And last week I found comfort in the reminder that God’s people have struggled throughout history when suffering choked out their faith.
In my study of the Book of Exodus I’m seeing God’s tender love and patience with His ever-drifting children — and some of the freshness of His word is because of the difficulties through which I’ve walked in the past decade plus. When Moses heeded God’s call to return to Egypt, he went to the leaders of enslaved Israel to tell them about God’s plan of deliverance. Did they begin leaping and praising God for finally hearing their cries? No. Their surprising response (note Exodus 6:9) to such incredible news reveals issues in their hearts to which I can relate:
“They would not accept the hope offered because of their ‘broken spirit and hard labor.’ Consumed with the darkness of their present circumstances, they [like I have done!] failed to appreciate the light of truth about their future. Nevertheless, their lack of faith did not affect the promises God had already made to them” (Women’s Evangelical Commentary).
I know this to be true for two reasons.
First, because God did fulfill His promises to Israel. He gave them a deliverer (Moses) who led them out of slavery by a powerful display of His sovereign control over both nature and the hearts of men (in the form of things like frogs, gnats and blood stained water). He provided for them in the desert — even when they were rebellious idolaters — and led them into a land “flowing with milk and honey.”
But, second, I know that unbelief doesn’t disqualify believers from receiving God’s promises because the deliverer of His people then pointed to The Deliverer to come. Jesus Christ led me out of slavery to my sin by dying in my place and then being raised from the dead to prove His sacrifice had been effective to declare me not guilty. Even when I have been “consumed with the darkness of [my] present circumstances” He has patiently endured my weariness and unbelief to prove His faithfulness time after time.
God was faithful and I eventually started laughing again.
If you are walking through dark times, you also have a Deliverer. If you’re a Christian, He’s here to say, “I am with you. Hold on to My promises. I will never leave you and I will always do what I say I will do. My faithfulness does not depend on your ability to trust Me, but on my eternal character and unfailing love.”
(And if you’re not a Christian, certainly He is pursuing you or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. Even if someone sent this to you, I pray you are comforted by the knowledge that God sees and wants to help you.)
The Israelites were so weary and discouraged they couldn’t muster the faith to believe help had come when he was standing right in front of them. Isn’t it good to know that even though your Deliverer is living right inside of you His purposes won’t be thwarted by your inability to trust Him right now?
I will go through tough times again. I will be tempted to doubt God’s control and care again. But I will also be the recipient of His love; patience; conviction; strength; and fulfilled promises.