From time to time a great event, ardently desired, does not take place because some future time will fulfill it in greater perfection.
"Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” (Psalm 50:15).
Do you have a situation that people don’t expect anything good to come out of? A marriage that people don’t think can work? A child that people say is impossible? A problem that makes people write you off? Cheer up. That’s when it gets interesting for God. He is in the business of defying popular expectation, the better to glorify Himself in you.
A counselor (I’m sorry to say that it was even a Christian counselor) once said that a woman who is a victim of marital infidelity will suffer depression as a result of it for a period of time that is approximately equal to the duration of the adultery. It was proved by statistics. A woman I know decided to go with the statistics rather than the Word of God, and she rose no higher than the counselor’s expectations.
At about the same time, there was another woman whose husband died. Some of her well-meaning friends told her to expect a series of fixed psychological stages of grief, including anger at God. This woman instead chose to pick up the Bible and simply believe God’s promises. God honored her faith and defied expectations.
Sometimes we Christians don’t expect enough from God. Let us pray bold prayers, outlandish prayers, because God wants to do exceedingly abundantly more than all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20)—and certainly more than unbelievers are expecting.
"Light The Candle"
Hope, like the gleaming taper's light, Adorns and cheers our way; And still, as darker grows the night, Emits a brighter ray.
"The Too Late Lie"
A man sits on the dock with head in hands, wailing for the ships that have sailed—as he is missing the ship that is sailing. This is a story of my life, of living in regret over past losses, even as I am losing the present moment’s possibilities.
In my 20s I thought all was lost. I chose despair and plunged headlong into a funk—and more disaster. In my 30s, when I saw what I had done, I plunged into yet more despair rather than learn my lesson. I lamented that I had been wrong in my 20s to think it was too late then—but that surely it was really too late now! So I dug into a costly depression. Despair over former fatal choices was itself the fatal choice that I continued to make. It is shameful to tell you all this. But at my age, I am grateful to serve as even a bad example if it will help someone.
Satan, with sweet rationalizations, tempts us to sin. And then, when we have followed his counsel, he switches sides to be the Accuser. It is hard to see this for what it is—the last lie in his quiver—because it comes with a semblance of righteousness: “I have sinned so badly that I have no right to joy again.” This is counterfeit repentance. Scripture tells us how to know a false repentance from a true one. The former kills, but the latter brings good things into your life:
“I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:9-10).
I am a watchman calling out from the milestone of 58 years, to you coming up behind me at 28 and 38 and 48. And this is what I cry: Never say it’s “too late,” and it’s “no use,” no matter what you have done—and I do not doubt you have done plenty. The command to repent and believe is not issued to pretty good people but to the ungodly. If the gospel is not good for your present estate it’s not good for anything. Christ still stands at the door and knocks. The words “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37) are still true. “Do not fear; only believe” (Mark 5:36) is still addressed to you. You are not the one person in history that God’s grace is not going to work for. To refuse to believe in His love and to put your hope in Him—“Today, while it is still today” (Hebrews 3:13)—is to miss the boat that’s docked and waiting.
"Tethered By Unchanging Purpose"
I have a purpose. Through the vicissitudes of job changes, the death of a spouse, and a nearly empty nest, I am tethered by the unchanging purpose of bringing glory to God. And in particular, God has left me here so that I may declare the praises of the One who called me out of darkness into his light (1 Peter 2:9). I don’t need Jack Daniels to anesthetize purposelessness on the weekends...I have a sense of meaning...Paradise is the last exit, and that it makes the present bumps on the road bearable.
"In His Time"
Let us diligently apply the means, never doubting that a just God, in His own good time, will give us the rightful result.
"Impossibility, Bow Down To Him And Call Him Lord"
The third wise man of Hindustan says, “No, brothers. ’Tis evident to me that the book of Ruth is not primarily about God’s outreach to Gentiles nor about God’s zeal for Land and Inheritance. The theme is surely this—that nothing is impossible with God.”
The proof of it (quoth the wise man) is found in the author’s arrangement of his textual material in Chapter 1 into a Gordian knot for God to untie: dead husband, two dead sons, two useless Moabite daughters-in-law, one aging widow.
For those still too doltish to feel the weight of the impossibility, the author reinforces the point through the words of Naomi: “I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, would you therefore wait till they were grown?” (1:11-12).
These are fighin’ words for God, especially as Naomi has said them publicly before her daughters-in-law—and the principalities and powers. Shall we not expect God to do something for His great Name? Are we so jaded that we cannot hear the shepherd David’s response to Naomi, as if present? “Who is this that defies the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17.) Are we so poor of memory that we forget God’s answer to Sarah when she said nearly the identical thing as Naomi, that she was too old to have a baby: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14.)
By the end of four chapters, God has unraveled the strands and made Impossibility bow to Him and crown Him Lord. Naomi, who thought it hopeless that she could ever have a son, is cradling her new son and heir.
It is interesting to me that though Naomi is very verbal throughout most of the book of Ruth, she is given nothing to say in Chapter 4. I take it as a gentle rebuke, even as the priest Zechariah was hushed up for nine months in chastisement of his unbelief at the good tidings of the angel (Luke 1:20). Whenever God does something impossible for me after I have been wallowing in unbelief, I also feel like being quiet.
When hope is hungry, everything feeds it.
“The Seed of Hope”
Beauty scatters the seed of hope in us.
Joan D. Chittister
To hope is to be a child again