It’s been just over three months since we packed up a Uhaul, a truck, a CR-V, a motorcycle, two bikes, and a dog, all to move two and a half hours south to my growing-up town. The transition itself has been like a party with the music turned up just a little too loud – fun and exciting but also exhausting and deafening and slightly chaotic.
There are days when I feel settled, and days when I feel homesick, and days when I feel generally confused at how I actually feel.
But overall, we are beginning to stabilize into a “normal,” and we are very thankful for new friends and a new house and new jobs and this town. We are thankful for how God has shown up in the midst of the transition and how He has begun to quiet things in a sweet, settled way. It’s a lot of work to have almost everything change, the major components of your life running ahead of you and hollering for you to catch up. I think we are finally catching up.
While the majority of the details in our life changed, though, there is still something that hasn’t, and I confess being more than a little sad about it.
That’s the way it always goes, isn’t it? You ask for something, and the Lord works and moves in all of these incredible ways – but instead of focusing on the things He is doing, we find ourselves asking “Why?” in the area He doesn’t seem to be acting in.
Are you shaking your head at me, or with me? Is it just me, or you too?
I’m never content. I’m more like the fickle, needy, selfish Israelites than I am comfortable admitting. God provides manna and quail, but I complain about wanting water (Exodus 16-17).
So what do you do when the thing you are hoping will change, doesn’t?
How do you handle the silence when what you are craving is the beat of the drums and the rhythm of the guitar?
How do you believe that God is at work when things are quiet, when He is quiet?
He’s not absent. He’s very much here. But when it comes to my prayers for change, my unfulfilled desires, He gives no indication and no promise of what’s to come. He listens and comforts, but honestly, He isn’t providing any answers.
I don’t feel abandoned. I don’t sense distance or His disapproval. But I am struggling to reconcile the why. And the when. My head knows He is good, but my heart is hurt by what I am experiencing as a lack of action on His part, despite Him being all-powerful. If He’s able to do anything, why doesn’t He do something?
Honestly, I think I have begun to give up in my prayers. I don’t know that it has been a conscious decision or a choice stirred by frustration or bitterness. It’s been a slow decrease, a weary reaction, a little at a time until I begin to think that prayer wasn’t accomplishing anything, anyway, so why keep it up? Maybe God’s just not going to answer it, or maybe His timing is to make me wait, so my prayers are useless right now because He’s going to do what He wants. That’s His prerogative, but I’m sick of getting my hopes up.
As I type that, I know it’s not true. I don’t actually believe that. But it’s how I feel, and I think I need to admit more often what I am feeling so that I can see it and remind myself of what actually is true.
Really, that’s the only thing I know to do right now. To repeatedly and continually fill my mind with truth about God and His character, asking Him to develop in me true hope that is fulfilled in Him and not in my requests being answered.
- HE SEES ME IN MY PAIN. Genesis 16:13 – So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”
- HE IS GOOD, AND HIS ACTIONS ARE GOOD. Psalm 119:68 – You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.
- HE GIVES PEACE. John 16:33 – “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
- HE IS THE FULFILLMENT OF OUR DESIRES. Psalm 145:16 – “You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.”
- HE BRINGS HOPE FROM OUR PAIN. Romans 5:3-5 – “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
- HE IS OUR COMFORTER. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. “
Even in the quiet, He is there. Even in the quiet, He is at work. His ways are not our ways, so maybe what looks like still and stagnant to me is part of the process to Him.
Maybe He has pulled me into the quiet to teach my soul the art of contentment, the joy found in Him alone. Despite my kicking and screaming and desire to get up and leave. Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, having no stability or place to call their own, but they had God, Who called them His own. Is that enough for me – to be His, and not be looking for what to call mine?