I sighed deeply as I inched along in traffic on Tuesday evening. I had been praying for my future man and telling God how much I was looking forward to marriage someday.
Sometimes when I pray about my future and my relationship status, I get super excited about what God is doing and energized because of the great time I’m having getting to talk with my Savior.
But Tuesday, I just sighed. “When, God?”
I groaned. “How much longer do I have to wait for You to reveal Your plan?”
I felt just…tired.
I didn’t get a billboard or a lightning bolt or even a still, small voice. I tried to listen for an answer and got nothing. I told Him, “I trust You. I trust Your timing.” I didn’t feel like I was trusting very much, but just praying those words helped a little.
A couple miles later in my commute, I remembered that I had to write a blog post for this week, and I told God, “I don’t have anything planned! What should I blog about?”
He responded, “I got this.”
Me: Oh, NOW you have something to say. I KNOW that You’ll come through on my blog – You have every week since I ran out of posts three weeks ago. I’m not worried about the blog.
And then it hit me: I have no trouble trusting that God has got my back when it comes to thinking of what to blog about. But I have trouble believing that God’s plan for the WHEN of my future romance is good.
A friend reminded me recently about the story of Esther. In the middle of the story, God doesn’t seem to be anywhere around; Mordecai (good guy) is about to be killed, Haman (bad guy) is about to be victorious, Esther (protagonist) seems too timid to ask for the lives of her people, and the king is suffering from insomnia.
But in the course of one night – ONE NIGHT – everything changes; Mordecai is honored, Haman is humiliated, and Esther finds the courage to save her people. In less than 24 hours, the destiny of an entire kingdom and people group is determined – and, ultimately, the lineage of the Savior of the world (Jesus) is intact.
It’s such a good reminder that the MIDDLE of the story isn’t the WHOLE story. In the middle, it often seems like God has forgotten His promises:
- On Noah’s Ark, where was God in the rain? (Genesis 5:32-10:1)
- At the end of Sarah’s childbearing years, where was God with the child He had promised Abraham? (Genesis 16)
- In prison, where was the God of Joseph’s dreams? (Genesis 39)
- At the funeral of Naomi’s husband and sons, where was God’s provision? (Ruth)
- On the cross, where was God’s saving hand? (John 19)
If we stop in the middle of those stories, we never get to the part where God keeps His promises. But if we read to the end – to the part where God reveals what He had in mind all along – we get to see Him be triumphant.
The most triumphant story in the Bible is the one that has the most tragic middle. When humans were only a few days old, they did something that God told them not to do; they sinned. Because God can’t be in the presence of sin, He separated people from himself forever.
Unfortunately, because we were all sinners after that, there was no way we could be good enough to enjoy God ever again. For a long time, the only thing that brought any hope at all was the system God set up for His people: sacrifice your best animals (lambs, goats, bulls, etc.) to Me, and I will forgive your sins.
That only worked for past sins, though, and everyone of course kept sinning after they sacrificed the animals. So God, in His mercy, provided a way for all of our sins to be paid for forever: He sent His Son Jesus to live a perfect life (that we should have lived), to be killed as the perfect sacrifice (that I should have made), and to rise from the dead – thus conquering the death that we deserve.
Now, when we die, instead of continuing to be separated from God forever, we can be with Him forever in Heaven.
But the middle of that story is terrrrrrrible. In the middle, the Son of God who came to do only good and holy things as a man on earth – He was tortured and hung on a cross in the most brutal execution anyone could imagine. You can bet anything that (even knowing the end of the story), He was groaning, “How long?” and “When will this pain end?” A lot of his friends and family walked away from Him thinking, “Well, THAT was a waste of time.”
What they didn’t know was that a few days later, He would be alive again, and the world would change forever with the hope He was getting ready to provide the rest of everyone throughout history.
It’s comforting to know that God kept His promises at the end of Jesus’ story, despite its rough middle. And today, it’s comforting to know that I’m in the middle of my story, for a few reasons:
- I can see the promises He has kept to me in the past and know that He’s faithful to me and to His own glory. Like with my blog post ideas. I literally got to the end of my ideas three weeks ago, yet here I am at the end of January still blogging.
- I can cling to His promises in the present. I get to hold tightly to God and get to know Him in this period of waiting – like Esther in the three-day fast before she goes to the king. Action has to be taken, but she doesn’t just act foolishly; she seeks God in order to see His promises.
- I can rely on his promises for the future. For me, as a Christian, the end of my story is going to be triumphant. Because Jesus already died the abjectly awful, lonely death that I deserve, and bagged the victory over death on my behalf, I am going to heaven (John 14:1-4). Take THAT, story-middle.
I’m the kind of person who loves a good beginning and tries to rush to savor the end of things. Right now, in this season of my life, I’m learning to embrace the middle.
In the middle, I learn to hold tightly to God in ways that I may never get to again.
In the middle, I get to know Jesus in new ways that I never have before.
In the middle, the Holy Spirit speaks in special ways that teach me more about God and the gospel than the beginning or the end ever could.
So the questions of “WHEN, God?!” and “How long will this singleness last?” fade in the light of the promises of God in Jesus. And the answer of “I got this” is enough – for my blog, for my future romance, and for me.