Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
“Hang On, Baby, Friday’s Comin’!” Do you remember that iconic 70’s poster with the kitten clinging to a branch? We all know what it’s like to hang on, hang in, keep it together just a bit longer because relief is on the way. Often it seems so much easier to keep on keeping on when the end is in sight. That burst of energy you get when you see the finish line coming up. Or for me, the final hard push when I can see I’m almost to the scenic panorama at the end of hike. I’m always amazed at how much there is ‘left in the tank’ when I think I’ve pushed myself to my limits. Truly, hanging on a bit longer is possible.
But what about when the end is NOT in sight? How many hikes have I been on when I kept telling myself the mountaintop was just around this next bend, only it wasn’t. Nor the next one or the one after that either. Is this the right trail? Should I check the map? Should I just call it quits and go back?
In the Bible, God frequently calls His followers to step out in faith with no clue as to what will happen, only that the result will be good. Abraham and Isaac, Moses and the Red Sea, Joshua and the Jordan River, Gideon, Virgin Mary, Peter and those fishing nets… It takes a lot of faith to trust God for a happy ending when everything looks mighty desperate or downright impossible. But I have seen the impossible become possible more than a few times. God can make a way when there seems to be no way. And in my experience, the outcome is more unexpected and better than anything I could have planned.
Here are a few stories of God’s goodness to us when we were desperate and helpless but hopeful:
- After two years of being illegal immigrants in Spain, there was one final opportunity to get to America – apply as refugees through the Red Cross. The downside? If turned down, all other options were off the table and deportation to Iran was imminent. As the family waited in line, they were overheard by a nun. This nun in Madrid had worked closely with their priest and friend in Barcelona who was sponsoring them. She took extra time to review their case. In the end, they were one of the few families accepted!
- As the city schools were failing, a plan was made to send the kids to Hereford Zone schools using the grandparents’ address. The plan was to return home to the city each evening. However, after the first month it became apparent that the grandparents’ health had been deteriorating and they were not able to take care of themselves without help. The ‘just for school’ plan became a permanent ‘relocation’ plan. The blessings were many. The city home was sold above list price rescuing us from near bankruptcy. The grandfather’s health deteriorated much more quickly than anyone predicted and he passed away just over a year later. By living together, his grandkids were able to spend more precious time with him, and grandma was supported through her loss and grief and also her deteriorating health.
- Out of the blue police showed up at the door saying our son had been charged with a crime in Texas, although he had never been there. He had supposedly violated a new internet law they had just passed. They wanted to extradite him. By the grace of God a deal was made to take him ourselves. A criminal attorney was required which was ridiculously expensive. By the grace of God, a check from an Aunt’s estate arrived the next day in the exact amount needed. After several nervous and heart wrenching months, the law was overturned as unconstitutional which also allowed the whole matter to be expunged from the records.
Weeping may last for the night, but JOY comes in the morning. Enduring is hard. Not knowing is hard. Trusting is hard. And all the endings aren’t happy ones. But God has an amazing, supernatural way of weaving together the broken pieces of hopes and dreams and making a newer, better reality with them. He may turn you down a different path, a longer path, perhaps a harder path, but in the end, the destination will surpass what you had planned.
I’ve seen it with my own eyes. These are just a few of the stories. “All I have needed His hand has provided.” His faithfulness has been Great. And because I am sure of this down to my bones, I am also sure that He will work all things to our good in our future. I am not adventurous, I’m not a risk taker. I’m a planner, measuring out the cost/benefit of every situation before I make a move. Trusting my future to God with no clue how it will turn out is a challenge. But then I remember that, doing a cost/benefit analysis, what cost would ever be too much in doing God’s will? Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. And what benefit could there ever be that would be better than the plans Almighty God has for me – plans to prosper me and give me hope and a future? There’s a bet you can’t lose! God wants to bless us more than we want to be blessed – more than we could dare to ask or imagine!
So, hang on, Baby! JOY is comin’!