Closing 2018 and Things Unseen
This year I saw the Lord miraculously heal a friend with a scary cancer diagnosis...but I also
lost a relative before there was ever time to pray for his healing.
This year I saw a marriage blighted with an extramarital affair restored...but I also saw friends
suffer through formalities of divorce.
This year I saw precious friends adopt twins from the foster care system...but I also watched them
grieve what was only temporary placement of their first foster child.
This year I saw women breakthrough the chains of anxiety through the power of the Lord...but I saw other women who never left their car, bound by fear, at coming into the place of ministry I help with which ministers to women with anxiety.
This year I saw a friend lead a Jewish man to Jesus and watched the same friend be rejected by a man
who gladly pronounced his muslim faith in response to her gospel, the gospel of Jesus.
This year I saw the Lord heal a baby born without a heartbeat...but I also saw infant life lost prematurely.
This year I saw a woman battling infertility become pregnant... but I also saw others merely
beginning their journey of difficulty conceiving.
This year I saw some family relationships strengthened and restored... but I also saw others
left with gaping ravines of hurt and unresolved conflict.
God’s response to many prayers were seen— but others remain unseen to me. For anyone who prays, this a reality you must know.
My two-year-old, Emmett Everly, woke up Christmas Eve night and said “mom, I cannot see you!” It was 3 a.m, (yes she was in our bed) and I wasn’t surprised at her observation, as it was appropriately dark in the room.
Two hours later she began to cry again about not being able to see. I turned the light on and noticed her beautiful eye lashes were matted shut from drainage— it was as lovely and pleasant as it sounds.
This went on several days. She knew where she was, she knew who she was with, but at nighttime she couldn’t make out anything beyond that, because her eyes weren’t functioning in those moments. Thanks Christmas cold of 2018.
As I look back on 2018 there were times that I felt a little like Emmett Everly, in the midst of praying. There were many times this year where I couldn’t perceive what God was doing in a situation, even though I knew full well He was in it.
There were times when I saw God work miraculously in situations in a way that lined up exactly with my expectations of how He should work; then there were times where it seemed He didn’t act at all.
The problem with believing that is that it quantifies God’s attentiveness on a scale of our ability to perceive.
We often assume that because we didn’t see what we asked to see, in the moment we asked to see it, that God didn’t listen or respond. But that feeling isn’t the truth and it’s definitely not a sound resting place for moving into 2019.
The truth is:
We know He hears our prayers.
We know that He is our ever present help in times of need.
We know that He is a refuge and shelter.
We know that He doesn’t forsake us.
We know that He leads us into all freedom and truth.
We know that He gives wisdom without measure.
We know that He gives generously, peace that is better than understanding.
We know that He exalts those in humble circumstances.
We know that He gives a way out in temptation.
We know that He makes His grace sufficient regardless of our circumstances.
We know that He provides strength to the weak.
We know He has plans for us that are good.
We know His promises for us are Yes and Amen in Jesus.
We know that He heals the broken-hearted and binds their wounds.
We know that His mercies are new every morning.
We know He gives us a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind.
We know that He provides according to His riches.
We know that He is exceedingly, abundantly able.
We know that He is not slow to fulfill His promises.
We know He makes our paths straight if we trust in Him.
We know that He loves us.
We know that He works all things together for our good.
We know that He is good.
So how do we reconcile these truths with what sometimes we fail to see? Faith.
I would suggest we take a lesson from the prophet Elijah as he models faith. Faith, according to Hebrews 11:1 is, “the confidence in what we hope for and the assurance of what we don’t yet see.”
1 Kings 18 records a time of severe drought in Israel, with Elijah on the run from someone wanting to kill him. In this time God uses Him and a few miracles to turn the hearts of Israel back to Him.
Elijah is speaking with the adversarial King that wants him dead, and he says with regard to the drought, “there is the sound of the roar of an abundance of rain!”Vs 41)
Elijah then instructs his servant to get on the higher ground of Mount Carmel and confirm the coming of the rain that Elijah already hears.
Meanwhile, Elijah is in a position of prayer, exhaustion also, but prayer, before the Lord. The servant follows his instruction but reports after looking, “there is nothing, Elijah.”
Elijah, sure of what he has hears says, “go back!” This goes on 7 different times and finally evidence of the oncoming rain is seen by Elijah’s servant (vs 44) and then the rain is experienced by everyone else (vs 45).
Can you imagine how Elijah must have felt as he tried to reconcile what he could hear so clearly but what was unseen to him and others around him? But each report back to him was contrary to what he knew God was doing. He could sense what God was doing.
I would encourage you with this truth:
Elijah was led by the Spirit in the same way we are called to be directed by the Spirit— and it is the same Holy Spirit at work within us that was at work within him.
It literally took Elijah’s physical eyes and the circumstances of life and the natural around him, to catch up with what God was already at work doing that he could perceive in His Spirit (bringing a downpour)!
If the Lord has moved you to be in prayer for something specific that you haven’t “seen” answered yet, continue your posture of prayer. Continue to be led by the Spirit; to be full of the Spirit; and to fix your eyes not on what is (yet) seen but perhaps what is most often unseen.
The truth is that God is at work, regardless of what our eyes perceive. He has a response to all the prayers of His children and His plans are better than ours. IF we are called by His name, adopted as His, then His plans toward us are “for His glory and our good” (as my sweet friend Jessie always says). This same truth applies to the times where we have seen a response but it wasn’t what we had prayed for— His glory and our good.
I will close with these words from the Lord in the book of Isaiah (40:21-31) as I
encourage myself and anyone reading this, to continue to walk by faith and not just sight.
21 Do you not know? Do you not hear?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
23 who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.
24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows on them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
25 To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name;
by the greatness of his might
and because he is strong in power,
not one is missing.
27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
h“My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.