Wednesday, July 12, 2017

When God Seems Silent

Every now and then I like to hand over the pen and feature a guest writer. Today's post is written by a sweet, sweet college friend. She knows how deeply important words are to me and understood that in the trenches of grief, they might not be easy for me to write. The way she speaks both to and seemingly from my heart is a gift. These are the words that have been tumbling around in my heart and brain. Em puts them so beautifully on paper in a way that cherishes my story and warms my heart. Friends who can listen to Jesus and then write like this on your behalf are a wild, precious treasure. 

What happens when it all falls apart? What then?
Most of us wouldn’t admit that we believe faithfulness produces prosperity.
But I think we do.
Somewhere deep in our hidden theology, the presuppositions we can’t articulate, we believe that if we do our part, God will do His. God will be faithful to bless and grow and flourish whatever it is that we are working for this side of heaven. That could be a job. A ministry. A marriage. A friendship.

If we do our best, God will do His best. Right?

My sweet friend Hannah is the epitome of a church girl. Church is her jam. God has given her an incredible ability to handle large amounts of responsibility while being able to be passionate and intentional in each area of ministry she invests in. One of my favorite times in our friendship is when I get to watch her love people because of her love for Jesus. I love to watch her host brunches and serve families by loving their children. I love to see her organize events and work endless hours to ensure that the environment is cultivated in such a way that it will invite women in to worship. I love watching her talk with people, pursue people, mentor people. I love watching her worship. I love watching her pray her heart out for the people God has placed in her life.

My friend and I met on my first day at college. She helped me move in and she has been helping me lift the hard stuff in life ever since. My friend is just that kind of woman.

This past year I’ve seen my friend go through the unimaginable. The heart wrenching. The hurt.
But I’ve also seen her rise again. I’ve seen her run to Jesus and not away. I’ve seen her heal. And I’ve seen her use it as fuel to press through the hard parts of the race.

There are few things my friend loves more than her church.
She has spent thousands of hours within its walls. Almost her entire life, she has been a part of her God’s work within her family building that church.

And today, she announced that her church has made the painful decision to close its doors.

My friend did her part.
Did God do His?

I’m no stranger to loss. And when I’ve been on that side of things I am tempted to ask this question.

If you’re not familiar with Job’s story, it is one of my favorites. Job was a faithful man of God. He was loved by the Lord and everything Job touched seemed to prosper..
And then one day, he lost everything.
Job lost his family. His home. His career. His health. And His security in the goodness of God.
In Job 10 (MSG), Job has so many questions for God. He did his part. He was faithful! At this point in the story he had reached his end.

“I can’t stand my life- I hate it! I’m putting it all out on the table, all the bitterness of my life- I’m holding back nothing.” Job prayed, “Here’s what I want to say: Don’t, God, bring in a verdict of guilty without letting me know the changes you are bringing. How does this fit into what you call good?”
Later on in chapter 10 Job says, 

“You gave me life itself and incredible love. You watched and guarded every breath I took. But you never told me about this part. I should have known that there was more to it.”

Now depending on your view of God, you may have never had a conversation with Him quite like this one. But I’m willing to bet you’ve had these feelings at some point. I bet you’ve wondered how your broken dream, failed marriage, and biggest heartbreak fits into His goodness.

So, if you don’t know the end of the story, I would love to share it with you. God speaks to Job finally after much time passes and he asks Job a series of questions. Questions like,
Where were you when I created the earth?
Where were you when I decided on it’s size?
Who created the ocean and told the waves where they must stop?
Who brings water to unvisited fields, deserts no one ever lays eyes on?
Was it through your know how that the hawk learned to fly, soaring effortlessly on thermal updrafts?

The list goes on and on. Job and God have this back and forth conversation about the glory of God and the omniscience of His presence. Through this conversation, God in His fullness and His goodness and His sovereignty, is revealed to Job fully, unlike He has ever experienced before.

And this was Job’s response,
I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talks about wonders way over my head…..I admit I once lived by rumors of you; but now I have it all firsthand- from my own eyes and ears! I’m sorry- forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise! I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.

During Job’s loss, God seemed quiet. And Job didn’t understand. 
But the prize, the blessing, was that through his loss, Job knew God fully. And that is always the prize. God isn’t after our happiness. He is after what is best for us. What is best for us is always to know God and be known by Him, fully.

This story ends with God redeeming what had been lost. The way He always does. In fact, scripture says that God blessed Job’s later life even more than His earlier life. It says that Job died an old man, with a full life.

Faithfulness doesn’t always equal prosperity in the way we would like it to, but faithfulness always breeds intimacy with Jesus. It is the lens through which we are able to see God’s goodness, sovereignty, and faithfulness, unlike we’ve ever known it before.

One of my favorite worship songs is “Pieces”, in it she says, “You don’t give yourself in pieces. And you don’t hide yourself to tease us.”

And friend, that is true.
That is who our God is. If he is quiet, it’s for our good. He’s not a God of deception. He is not a good of trickery. He is not a God of lies.
If you are feeling tricked. If you are feeling like you did your part of the deal and God didn’t do His. If you want to know where this fits in God’s goodness. I encourage you to take heart. If you let God work, redemption is coming. You live now on rumors of who God is, but soon friend, you will see His face.
God is too good of a God to let us live on crumbs.

Don’t give up now. 

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