It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.—You knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. (Lamentations 3:26; Hebrews 10:34-36; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)
Monday night at my small group meeting, we talked about returning from exile. See, we are living in Post-Katrina New Orleans, and have been displaced as a body of believers ever since the storm hit. Now, over 3 years later, we are on the verge of moving into our new building and being all together in our new home for the first time. It is a very exciting time...and a very sobering one. We aren't the same people or the same church we were 3+ years ago. Time, trials, and a somewhat nomadic existence have taken it's toll. Some of us are shining ever more brightly for the trial, but others...like me...well, the shine's come off.
During the course of the meeting, we were asked to describe our Post-Katrina walk with the Lord in one word. The word I chose was "discouragement". Even now, saying (or typing) that word causes a lump to form in my throat and tears to sting my eyes.
The truth has that effect sometimes.
Over the past few months, I've seen the depths of my discouragement and it's effects. More than that, I've seen how it has caused me to rebel against and accuse God. I've seen how this heart condition has effected my thoughts, my habits, my motives, my responses to circumstances and people. And, I've tried to change. I've made vows, laid out plans, tried to talk myself into feeling and thinking and behaving differently. And when all of that failed miserably...I prayed.
I cried out to God and asked him to intervene. I asked Him to deliver me. I asked Him to change me. I asked Him to restore and revive me. Then I worshipped Him and thanked Him for keeping my heart tender despite my exile and rebellion...and for His faithfulness despite my own unfaithfulness. Finally, I thanked Him for what I knew He was going to do.
I prayed that several times a week for months, seeing no fruit, seeing no change, yet still feeling an intense desire to plead my case with my Deliverer. And then...this week...fruit.
This week I've seen the realization of all of those prayers and cries for mercy and help. This week, I've seen obedience. This week, I've seen change. And, I am so thankful!
He hears! He knows! And, He never forsakes His own!
For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name's sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. (1 Samuel 12:22)