I hope this post speaks to those who have been promised something by God but are still waiting for it to happen. Maybe you think you’ve just been hoping for things to happen by yourself and thought it wasn’t God at all. God’s will is mighty tough to figure out sometimes. That’s why it’s called a mystery. In His book “The Mystery of God’s Will”, Chuck Swindoll writes:
“Even though we obey His Word and seek His will…if we’re honest enough to admit it, there are days – no, there are even months – when we simply cannot figure out what God is up to.” 1
There are a few illustrations in the bible that parallel many of my personal situations almost exactly. The first one is in Genesis 22 where Abraham was asked by God to kill his son Isaac. In verse 2, God said:
“…take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
If you’re just joining me here, Abraham and Isaac aren’t just an ordinary father/son duo. Isaac was the promise God sent to Abraham and Sarah. For over 20 years, Abraham and his wife had waited for God to fulfill His promise and give them a son. Twenty years! Now that’s a long time to wait on God! God had told them that He would make Abraham’s descendants like the stars in the sky or the sand on the sea.
Anyways, here are Abraham and Isaac together at last going up a mountain to burn an offering and God tells Abraham to kill his son and use him as the burnt offering! Think what Abraham must have thought at that moment. He must have been wondering why God would finally fulfill His promise by bringing Isaac into the family only for him to be killed. Why was that God’s will? Why would He put an end to His blessing and promise if He had told Abraham he would be the father of many nations? It didn’t make any sense.
“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son,”
That spoke about the strong faith Abraham had in God. In verse 10 when Abraham grabbed his knife to kill Isaac, an angel stopped him and showed him another way…a ram that was caught in some bushes. Imagine the relief Abraham (and especially Isaac!) must have felt. God knew all along that the ram was going to be the alternate sacrifice…but Abraham didn’t. Although the circumstance seemed that God’s blessing was at an end, Abraham trusted God that He knew what was best and he followed. In verse 14, Abraham even named that place “The Lord Will Provide” in remembrance of what happened there.
Another illustration in the bible is in Exodus 14 where Moses and the Israelites are caught between the Red Sea and the pursuing Egyptians. The previous day, God had told the Israelites where to camp and they did. God knew that the Egyptians were going to chase after them. As soon as the Israelites saw the Egyptians, they said to Moses in verses 11-12:
“Wasn’t there enough room in Egypt to bury us? Is that why you brought us out here to die in the desert? Why did you bring us out of Egypt anyway? While we were there, didn’t we tell you to leave us alone? We had rather be slaves in Egypt than die in this desert!”
Just imagine what they must have felt…betrayed, abandoned, deceived, mislead, deserted and walked out on! Here they were having come all the way out of Egypt; delivered by God’s divine hand. They probably thought they had a clean getaway. But God told them to camp by the Red Sea and because of their obedience, the Egyptians caught up with them.
I bet some of them were asking some of the same questions I (and probably some of you) have asked God, “Why did you bring me all this way here just for everything to seem hopeless? Why would God promise me His blessings and now it seems that it won’t even happen? I did everything right but here I are in a crisis. Would it have been better to not have gone through this in the first place?”
But in that moment, God wasn’t through with the Israelites yet. During that time, God was brewing up a miracle for them. In verse 16, God asked Moses to stretch out his walking stick over the sea and you know the rest. The Red Sea parted and the Israelites walked across on dry land! Not only did they cross on dry land but as soon as the Egyptians followed them, God caused the waters to fall down on them and killed every one of them. What a miracle!
The last story in this illustration is found in II Kings 4:8-36 where an older married couple from Shunem allowed the prophet Elisha to use their small upper room as a place to stay whenever he came through their town. During one of Elisha’s visits to Shunem, he was staying with this couple and in verse 15, he promised the wife (as she stood in the doorway) that about that time the next year, she was going to have a son. Now you must understand the dilemma this couple was going through…they were too old to bear kids. So it was only natural that the woman told Elisha, “No my lord. Man of God, do not lie to your maidservant!”
Through Elisha, God had spoken a promise to the woman and her husband. Even though they were advanced in years, the promise still remained. Henry Blackaby says in his book “Experiencing God”:
“He calls you to an assignment that you cannot do without Him. The assignment will have God-sized dimensions…Some people say, ‘God will never ask me to do something I can’t do,’ I have come to the place in my life that, if the assignment I sense God is giving me is something I know I can handle, I know it probably is not from God. The kind of assignments God gives in the Bible are always God-sized. They are always beyond what people can do because He wants to demonstrate His nature, His strength, His provision, His kindness to His people and to a watching world. That is the only way the world will come to know Him.”
Back to II Kings. In verse 17, God followed through in His promise and the woman conceived and had a son about a year later. That should have been the end of the story right there right? God gave the couple His promise, so everything should go right from then on…right? Actually no.
As it turned out, the son died as he was working out in the fields with his father. Why did this happen? Why did God’s promise come to such a horrible end? Or was it the end?
In verse 25 the boy’s mother went out to Mount Carmel and found Elisha there with his servant. When she arrived where he was, she fell, grabbed him by him by the feet and said, “Did I ask a son of my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me’?” Imagine what the mother must have felt. There is nothing worse than losing a child. There is no grief that comes close to this heartache except for losing a spouse. This mother is desperate. She is on her face before God’s appointed prophet pleading with him.
Then Elisha sent his servant ahead of him to the woman’s house. As soon as he arrived, in verse 32, he saw the child lying dead on the bed. He then left his servant and the mother and closed the door. While he was in the room behind this closed door, he prayed to God. God must have told him something in that prayer because the next thing Elisha does is very very strange. Here’s what Elisha does in verse 34-35:
“And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands; and he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm. He returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him; then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.”
Remember the that the door was open when Elisha told the mother about God’s promise. Then the second miracle happened behind a closed door. This speaks a lot to me because even though the door might be shut and it seems that the promise is dead, God moves behind closed doors where no one can see. In places people might not be able to notice, He is bringing dead promises back to life! Imagine what the parents must have felt when Elisha emerged from the room with their son…alive! Imagine how joyful they must have felt when they saw the visible evidence of God’s promise that had been resurrected!
So do any of you see yourself in Abraham’s situation? Have you been promised something and received it only for that promise to die? Are you in the position the Israelites were in where God has brought you out of a crisis only to be faced with an even larger one? Like the Shunammite couple, have you been promised something, only for it to die out? How can all these things be His will? I’ll refer to Chuck on this one:
“…the Lord our Father…[is] full of wisdom and knowledge. So whatever is sovereign is bathed in wisdom and knowledge. When He makes His decisions, which…are called judgments, they are unsearchable because we live in a finite realm and He in the infinite. We live in the temporal now. He lives in the eternal forever. So His decisions, His judgments are unsearchable. Furthermore, His ways, while they are right, are in the final analysis unfathomable. You cannot get to the bottom of them. You do, however, often come to the place where you say: ‘I just accept it,’ And that requires a humility that is very difficult for the educated, intelligent person of today.” 3
“Sovereignty means our all-wise, all-knowing God reigns in realms beyond our comprehension to bring about a plan beyond our ability to alter, hinder or stop.” 4
All this means that we must trust in Him to carry out His will for our lives that is our desire too. Can you trust in God to do that? Yes. How can you? How do you know what other people know? You talk to them. You talk with others who know them. You look at what they’ve done in the past. The same goes for our God. To know if His will aligns with yours, you must be daily immersed in His word. The bible is filled with countless stories where God pulled through and blessed His faithful people. You must constantly meditate on Him. God speaks mostly through the bible but also through other people and through prayer. One of the best ways to explain this is in Psalm 37:1-8:
“Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret – it only causes harm.”
Here’s another quote from Chuck that might bring things home:
“The better you get to know the Word of God, the less confusing is the will of God. Those who struggle the least with the will of God are those who know the Word of God best.” 5
1. Swindoll, C. R. (1999). The mystery of god’s will. (p. 4). Nashville, TN: Word Publishing.
2. Blackaby, H., & King , C. (1994). Experiencing god. (p. 36 & 138). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
3. Swindoll, C. R. (1999). The mystery of god’s will. (p. 86). Nashville, TN: Word Publishing.
4. Swindoll, C. R. (1999). The mystery of god’s will. (p. 87). Nashville, TN: Word Publishing.
5. Swindoll, C. R. (1999). The mystery of god’s will. (p. 30). Nashville, TN: Word Publishing.
6. Swindoll, C. R. (1999). The mystery of god’s will. (p. 19). Nashville, TN: Word Publishing.