A few great questions from my friend Brian Eshleman this morning:
40 And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed. 41 Then many came to Him and said, “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.” John 10:41-42, New King James Version
QUESTION: There isn’t an exact parallel. Christ is omnipresent. Yet surely there are times when we sense His Presence more, times, even, when He might withdraw that most intimate sense to teach us to persevere, to make an effort to seek and celebrate Him as superior to any other option.
How has He brought you through a similar dark night of the soul? How has He challenged you to push your roots deeper than what you already knew of Him in familiar circumstances?
I recently lost my job unexpectedly in the midst of the COVID pandemic. While facing the very real possibilities of this impacting my family’s ability to remain on the farm in the house that we had built together and made a home — I found myself having to stand on the promises of God, even while making special efforts to shore up our financial situation and find immediate employment. And I found myself needing to praise Him even more loudly and boldly in order to reassure myself that He had not forsaken me or forgotten me.
24 And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all its cities together, farmers and those going out with flocks. 25 For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.” Jeremiah 31:24-25, New King James Version
QUESTION: Similarly to the first question, God points here to the satisfaction of the weary soul and the replenishing of the sorrowful soul, something different, deeper than we experience if our experience with Him has been steady.
What means has God used to point out that your satisfaction in Him is more profound because of the difficult seasons He has brought you through, that by His grace, you see the same old Judah, the same old surroundings, as something profound because you are more aware He placed you in them, or in them again, by specific grace?
In this special season of having to trust that God has a plan and a purpose in this recent change, He not only brought us to a place where we dispatched our slavery to our debtors (by paying off all lingering debts to improve our monthly cash flow by eliminating those debts) and we committed to a seed of faith to the church (by scheduling payment of what would have been our old tithe amount — but immediately after our obedience in these small matters, He provided new employment offers from 3 different companies that even competed with their counter-offers to hire me. This now provides me a new position with a new team of individuals to encourage and lift up and help them shine — even as I stay in touch with my old teammates from the previous job.
Lord, when I am thankful and grateful for where you have taken me as part of your intentional, blessed, sovereign plan — I can even rejoice in what the enemy meant for harm, because you turned it for good. But even moreso, I can praise you in the dark before I see evidence of this turning of my circumstances — trusting each time that you are faithful and true, proclaiming that thou haven’t failed me yet and that you never will — regardless of the darkness of night, because the morning dawn lies close ahead. You are not just “as close” in those dark times, but it is you who carry us through those times. It is not one set of footsteps in the sand because you have left and forsaken us, but because you carried us through it, even when we were too weak to do it ourselves and it was beyond our own abilities to resolve. May the root of our faith be firmly founded in you, not in our own abilities, and may our attitude, love and service towards those around us humbly reflect this in our every day — so that they see you because we see you — no matter the dark of the storm we see you like a lighthouse shining forth, leading us home. Amen.