By Waylon Bailey
Recently, I wrote about “Once Upon A Time” and living “happily ever after.” The whole point was to make us conscious of God’s desire to bless us and for us to live obediently to Him. We can’t expect God’s blessings without following His plan for how the world works.
It’s not luck or our effort or smarts; it’s God’s goodness. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift.
But there’s another side to this.
We all know what that side is. A number of our reading community pointed it out yesterday. It’s the whole issue that Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Job, and Jeremiah faced (and a host of other faithful people as well).
What do you when “the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls?”
This was the dilemma of the prophet Habakkuk. He looked for God to work, but he could not see God at work even though God assured Him that He would indeed do what He had promised.
This is the way Habakkuk came out: “yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights” (Habakkuk 3: 17-19).
How do you handle life when you can’t see “happily ever after?”
(I don’t pretend to have everything together, but I do know that God equips us in Scripture to handle all things, even the times when everything doesn’t seem right.)
First, draw even closer to God. James tells us to do this. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8). This is exactly what happened to Job.
Remember Job suffered in spite of his righteousness. After looking closely at the Book of Job, you might conclude that Job suffered because he did right. So did Paul and Jeremiah.
All of these faithful servants used their hard experiences to get closer to God. One of our Bible Fellowship Group teachers summarized what she wanted the class to get from their study of Psalm 23. This is part of what she said: “My prayer is that you will cling to Psalm 23 the next time you are stressed, hurt, worried, or weary. Thinking about what an actual shepherd does for his sheep. How he knows each one’s name personally. How he feeds them . . . leads them away from trouble or through devastating landscapes.”
Second, determine to live righteously regardless of the circumstances. Look at that great cloud of witnesses who suffered but who also persevered (Hebrews 11). Follow their example of determination to please God in all things.
Finally, ask God for the grace to be obedient and grateful in spite of all else. Cry out to God for His help to get you though the dark times of life. With all my heart, I believe you will find Him faithful.
As I raised my daughters, I told them: “Not everything in life will be good. But, if you live for God, you will experience the best life possible.”
I believed it then; I believe it now.
Waylon Bailey is pastor of First Baptist Church in Covington and a former Louisiana Baptist Convention president. This editorial first appeared in his blog, which is published daily and can be subscribed to by clicking here.