Last week I talked about God getting quiet, and three questions you can ask yourself to help clarify whether you missed something.
But what if you’ve done everything right? What if you heard God say to do this thing, you obeyed His request, and it’s left you sitting in a hard place? A dry place? An uncomfortable place? God’s desert place?
Now what do you do?
I’ll warn you: The answer probably isn’t what you want to hear.
3 Possibilities to Consider
1. Turmoil can be our friend.
Sometimes God wants us to get a message loud and clear, but the only way we’ll really hear Him is in the midst of turmoil and we have no where else to go but Him.
I think of Gideon, devastated by the Midianites in Judges 6. The Bible tells us that “they rode in on their camels, set up their tents, and then let their livestock eat the crops as far as the town of Gaza. The Midianites stole food, sheep, cattle, and donkeys. Like a swarm of locusts, they could not be counted, and they ruined the land wherever they went. The Midianites took almost everything that belonged to the Israelites (verses 4-6, Contemporary English Version).
It was only at this point that God appeared to Gideon with His assignment of redemption. Could it be that only this level of desperation would make Gideon think that God’s plan might work?
2. Quiet can be our friend.
Sometimes God wants us to get a message that we don’t really want to hear, and only in those moments of dryness will we recognize and respond to His voice.
I think of Hagar in the desert after Sarah had sent her and Ishmael away. The Bible says, “They wandered around in the desert near Beersheba, and after they had run out of water, Hagar put her son under a bush. Then she sat down a long way off, because she could not bear to watch him die. And she cried bitterly” (Genesis 21:14-16, Contemporary English Version).
I would have to be in some pretty desperate circumstances to set my child down like this. Yet it was in this moment that God chose to speak words of encouragement to Hagar. Did she need to be this completely broken before God’s words penetrated her head and heart?
3. Consistency can be our friend.
Sometimes God wants us to get that He really means the message He’s already given.
Many of you are familiar with the story of Jonah. God asked him to go to Nineveh to preach, but Jonah ran the other way instead. We’re told that Jonah spent three days and nights in the belly of the whale (Jonah 1:17), and we know that Jonah said a beautiful prayer about God responding when trouble came (Jonah 2).
Yet we don’t know exactly when Jonah prayed.
Did he pray shortly after he entered the whale, and God left him sitting there for three days to make His point clear? Did it take three days for Jonah’s heart to be softened enough to even admit that God saved him?
Either way, as soon as Jonah was back on dry land, God repeated His previous words: Go to Nineveh and preach. Henry Blackaby points out that,
Our difficulty is not that we don’t know God’s will. Our discomfort comes from the fact that we do know His will, but we do not want to do it.
That quote makes me squirm a little. How often has it been true of you?
God Is Doing Something
The bottom line is God is doing something. You haven’t been forgotten, and you are not being ignored. The counsel of Scripture still holds true.
I will bless you with a future filled with hope—a future of success, not of suffering. Jeremiah 29:11
Stand still. Be patient. God will speak to you again.
Listen for it.