I sat across from a young woman at lunch the other day and listened to her describe her present situation, which was depressing. Although she never declared herself desperate, desperation was as present at the table as the food we shared. Every time I’m in these situations, something inside me wants to fix the problem and make everything better, as if I had the power to do that.
The truth is, I see myself again and again in each encounter. As a young Christian, I sat across from an older friend and poured out my heart to her. I desperately wanted my life to be fixed by some word or some method or some advice that would serve as the silver bullet to relieve my suffering. Thankfully, my friend pointed me to the Bible and told me I would find God there—and I did.
The comfort and support of a friend or an elder or a pastor can be a wonderful blessing in our lives. But it’s easy to cross the line and depend on them for our security, strength, acceptance, and even our spiritual growth. When that happens, they will fail us every time because they are not the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Only the triune God can give us these things.
No matter how complex, messy, tangled or hopeless our circumstances—even those that appear impossible—God is at work in our lives. We may not see Him there. He may seem completely silent. Day, weeks, months, and even years may pass with little change in our situation. But His promises still stand—I will never leave you or forsake you; My mercies are new every morning; For I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for evil to give you a future and a hope—and God always keeps His promises.
In good times and bad, the best counsel anyone can give us is to be faithful to the ordinary means of grace—Bible study, prayer, worship, the sacraments—whether we feel like it or not. It is through these simple means that we will find God’s grace to be sufficient for our every need.
For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.