Another workweek has come and gone, and before we know it, the weekend will be gone, too. Time doesn’t wait for anyone, and that can be scary. (Except for the day when Joshua asked God to make the sun stand still, and it did–for a whole day to allow the Israelite army to finish an important battle! See Joshua 10:18.)
On the other hand, time can drag interminably if you’re…
…languishing in prison as Joseph was on a false charge. (Genesis 39 & 40)
…or serving as slaves in Egypt for 400 years as the Israelites were (Exodus 1)
…or exiled to the desert for 40 years as Moses was (Exodus 2)
…or dodging a mad king for years on end as David did (1 Samuel 18 to 29)
…or…you fill in the blanks for the worst times of your life!
But their stories didn’t end there! Those long periods of seemingly wasted time were part of God’s plan for building character and for getting ready the next step in the life of each one and as benefit to myriad others:
Joseph suddenly became governor of Egypt and supervised a strategy to save them all during a seven-year famine.
The Israelites became a large nation through which God displayed his glory and power to the world.
Moses was used to liberate some 2 million people from slavery lead them for 40 years.
David became the greatest king of Israel and the composer of scores of Psalms that have encouraged God’s people for thousands of years.
What is the end of your story and mine? I admit that I get tired of waiting as
day follows day,
week follows week,
and year follows year.
Is anything happening? Yes, God has amazing plans. And when he says it’s time, things could change very suddenly and decisively. Are we ready for God’s next act?
Indignation, and admittedly fear, welled up in me as I read news this morning of repression, oppression, injustice, vindictiveness and vile wickedness perpetrated by those who have power over others. Some say, “Does God care?” I discovered a wonderful blog this week http://ourrabbijesus.com/articles/mr-spocks-god-mistake-of-western-theology/ where the author addresses the question of whether God is impassive or passionate. She quotes Rabbi Abraham Heschel:
Man’s sense of injustice is a poor analogy to God’s sense of injustice. The exploitation of the poor is to us a misdemeanor, to God it is a disaster. Our reaction is disapproval; God’s reaction is something no language can convey.
She goes on to say–
God is not indifferent or disinterested—he’s an Arab father who is crushed by his son’s apparent lack of love [as in the parable of the prodigal son]. God is a mother bear who roars a warning if you get too close to her cubs. God is a jilted boyfriend who’s beside himself when he spots his true-love on another guy’s arm. Israel’s God is not less emotional than we are, he is even more. (brackets mine)
So how should I respond when I hear about terrible injustices and even fear that the same things might eventually be perpetrated on me or those I love? In Psalm 52, David’s heart cries out against Doeg (see the story in 1 Samuel 21-22) who had betrayed him, predicting how God would one day bring him to ruin, drag him out of his tent, uproot him from the world of the living and shame his memory. Then as David winds down, he calms his own heart with these words:
But I am like a luxuriant olive tree in the house of God.
I trust in the covenant-loyalty of God forever and ever.
I will give you thanks forever for what you have done.
And I will hopefully and expectantly wait for you…
We all know about David’s victory over Goliath (1 Samuel chapter 17). But I am struck with the parallels between this and Jonathan’s daring assault on the Philistines which took place before that (chapter 14).
In both cases, King Saul (Jonathan’s dad) was paralyzed with fear in the face of the threatening Philistine army on one side and his own demoralized and dwindling troops on the other. Twiddling his thumbs and wringing his hands, he was taken unaware when Jonathan took the initiative in an act of faith. And it was the same scenario when David appeared on the scene in answer to Goliath’s challenge.
I love their bold statements:
Jonathan (to his armor bearer): “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans. Perhaps the LORD will help us, for nothing can hinder the LORD. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!” (14:6)
David (to Goliath): “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD … whom you have defied. Today the LORD will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head… And everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the LORD’s battle, and he will give you to us!” (17:45-47)
Jonathan and his companion killed 20 Philistines. The rest panicked and fled, and God sent an earthquake to further terrorize them.
David killed Goliath. The whole Philistine army fled and was totally devastated.
Jonathan recognized in David a man who, like him, who was totally sold out to the God who alone is victorious against all odds. May I follow in their footsteps today, on God’s side and taking each step confident in His guidance, protection, provision and power.