Lately I’ve been reading a book called “Sons of Encouragement” by Francine Rivers. It’s a compilation of 5 short novels that are her take on the stories of 5 different men from the Bible (she also has one called “A Lineage of Grace” about 5 Biblical women). The first two stories (“Aaron the Priest” and “Caleb the Warrior”) deal with the events leading up to and following the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt.
Now to be honest, I’ve always been a bit judgmental of the Israelites in my mind. That’s pretty fair, right? I mean, these are the people who witnessed the plagues God brought on Egypt, who saw the Red Sea part with their own eyes, who walked across the dry ground with their own feet, and not months, not years, but days later, are complaining to Moses that they are hungry and thirsty and God must have just brought them into the desert to kill them. Um, really?
But to my dismay, while reading this book I’ve realized how prone to that same mindset I can be sometimes. God has been so good to me, but when I go through hard times, dry times, waiting times, I tend to focus on my problems instead of the greatness of God and all the times He’s provided for me in the past.
This reminds me of Psalm 77, a psalm by Asaph that is very near to my heart (and will probably be the basis for a piece in my Psalm Series very soon!). The first part of the psalm is basically like, “Hello? God? You said you’d take care of me, but I’m not seeing it… Did You forget about me? Did You cancel all Your promises?” But about halfway through, there comes a very important word:
“Then I thought, ‘To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.’ I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God?” (Psalm 77:10-13, NIV)
Asaph closes the psalm with a reference to God leading His people by the hand of Moses and Aaron. I’m not sure I always understood why that was there, but now it makes perfect sense. Even in his distress, the psalmist makes a conscious choice to reflect on the works of God that the Israelites, who saw them firsthand, neglected to recall. How powerful!
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have this down. But I will leave you with one more verse that helped me through a particularly difficult season of my life several years back:
“Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, because this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT)
If we concentrate on finding reasons to be thankful to God, it leaves us with less time to concentrate on our own problems and helps us step outside ourselves and realize how good God is. Even when the circumstances of life would lead us to believe otherwise, He is so infinitely good! And even when we don’t understand His ways, we can have confidence in His love for us!
[July 20, 2013]