Our Faithlessness, His Faithfulness

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Today during my Bible reading, Numbers 21:4-9 really stuck out to me: “[The Israelites] traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”  Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.  The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.  The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole;anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”  So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.”

Get your eyes off your problems and put them on Jesus.  Stop looking down at the wound and finding things in your life to complain about.  Look up.  Just as the Israelites had to look up to the serpent to be cured, we need to look up to Jesus.  In John 3:14-15 Jesus says, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

Matthew Henry says, “Compare their disease and ours. Sin bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder. Compare the application of their remedy and ours. They looked and lived, and we, if we believe, shall not perish… Whosoever looked, however desperate his case, or feeble his sight, or distant his place, was certainly and perfectly cured. The Lord can relieve us from dangers and distresses, by means which human reason never would have devised.”

John Piper says, “Their complaining wasn’t rooted in their scenery, but their heart… A heart of gratitude and thankfulness isn’t dependent on your bank statement, doctor’s diagnosis, or the praise you receive for a job well done. Thanklessness and grumbling — regardless of your situation, even your suffering — reflect your heart.”  Piper goes on to say that the reason we complain is because we forget.

We don’t remember God’s gracious forgiveness, unfailing love, and abundant mercy.  We forget his redemption and sovereignty.  He doesn’t follow our plans for our life and we forget that His ways are best.  So we complain.  We murmur.  We grumble.

When we remember God’s faithfulness, I think it should look something like Psalm 77: “I cried out to God for help;  I cried out to God to hear me.  When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted.  I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.  You kept my eyes from closing;  I was too troubled to speak. I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night.  My heart meditated and my spirit asked: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again?  Has his unfailing love vanished forever?  Has his promise failed for all time?  Has God forgotten to be merciful?  Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”  Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.  I will remember the deeds of the Lordyes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.  I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.  With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.  The waters saw you, God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed.  The clouds poured down water, the heavens resounded with thunder; your arrows flashed back and forth.  Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked.  Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.  You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”  

The sentence I love the most from this chapter is “though your footprints were not seen.”  I think that’s when we often complain.  When we can’t see God’s hand in our life.  When His presence isn’t felt.  It’s easy to be thankful and joyful when life is going well but when it feels like everything’s crumbling in around you, when His footprints aren’t seen, that’s when we grumble.  But it’s important that we never forget that although we may not see His footprints in the moment, it doesn’t mean they’re not there.  Remember His faithfulness.

 

Even When It’s Hard

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I read Galatians 6:9 the other day which says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

As the second oldest of four kids, it often seemed to be the expectation for me to be “the mature one” when there was an argument.  It was often hard for me to make what seemed like the majority of sacrifices.  To not say something mean back even when they hurt me first.  My young mind saw it as unfair to be the one who usually did what was right.  There were times when I decided it was my sibling’s turn to make the right choice.  I became weary of doing good and I gave up.  I still struggle with this sometimes.  It feels like there are some people in my life who never make the right choice and I sometimes have trouble reacting right when I feel they “deserve” whatever I’m inclined to dish out.

John Piper says that we’re all apt to do this: “Probably the worst enemy of enthusiasm is time. Human beings have a remarkable and sad capacity for getting tired of wonderful things. Almost every one of you can think of something you were enthusiastic about recently, but now the joy is faded. Your first day of vacation on the coast the sunset was breathtaking and made you so happy you could sing. But by the end of your stay you hardly noticed it any more. Vacationers get tired of sunsets, millionaires get tired of money, kids gets tired of toys, and Christians get tired of doing good. At first the excitement of teaching that Sunday School class was strong, but now you have grown weary of well-doing. The thrill is gone. At first you felt clean and strong in the Holy Spirit as you drove the van, taught the Lao English, led the small group, visited the newcomers, started reading the Bible, worked in the emergency shelter . . . but now you have grown weary in well-doing. The inner power and joy have seeped away. It’s a chore. You’ve lost heart.”

Just because it’s the right thing, doesn’t mean it will be the easiest choice.  But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean we should give up.

Trusting God’s Timing

images     For years, I’ve been the girl who was frustrated by everyone’s good intentions when it came to my singleness.  “You’re still young; don’t rush it” or “It’ll happen when the time is right” or “Trust God, He’s got it all under control.”  I thought that these people just didn’t remember what it was like to be single.  They were in a great relationship or were happily married and it’d been too long since they’d be alone.  They couldn’t relate.  They didn’t understand.

     But I think I get it now.  I’ve been in a relationship for a little over two months now and if I had the chance, I think I’d offer a lot of the same advice that I used to detest.  I really was too young and the timing wasn’t right.  I definitely wasn’t ready to be in a relationship two years ago, let alone six months ago.  I’ve changed and matured so much that some days I feel like such a different person than when I moved here from New York two and a half years ago.

I am so happy that God is in control and not me.  When I found out two and a half years ago that we were moving from our little country house in New York to a suburb of Dallas, I was mad at my parents.  I didn’t want to move.  I had a small circle of close friends.  I was happy.  When we finally got to Texas, I knew that as soon as I was financially able to take care of myself, I was going to move back to New York.  But, now, I can see a little bit more of that big picture that everyone is always talking about.  If I’d stayed in New York or if I’d moved back like I wanted to, not only would I not have made some of the amazing friends that I have today but I would not be in this wonderful relationship with a great guy.

It may not feel like it but I can honestly say that there’s a reason for waiting.  If it’s not you that God’s preparing, maybe it’s the guy that God’s working on.  Keep trusting.