We often read Bible stories in the most unhelpful of ways. We read through the narrative much too quickly to grasp what it was like for the people we are reading about. Or, because we have grown up around many of these stories, we already know the ending of the stories. Maybe we don’t feel the weight of grief that Mary and Martha are experiencing at the loss of their brother, because we already know that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, but what must those days between his death and his resurrection have felt like for the sisters, especially when we realized they did not know that Jesus was going to raise their brother back to life. That is the “time in the middle,” between the phone call that delivers bad news and the moment that everything turns around, many of us know what living life between these moments feel like. I call it “life in the middle,” the moment we know that God is for us and that He is at work, but we are still waiting to see what He is going to do. These “middle” moments can last only moments, but often they are seasons in our lives that last for an extended period of time, and they can be full of worry and anxiety. How we spend these moments in the middle are of great importance and I hope you can be encouraged as I am being encouraged by God’s word at this moment.
For many of us at the moment (March 23rd 2020) we feel like we are living in the “middle” of a global pandemic. None of us really know what is going on, will it get better or get worse, and what can we do if is the latter? We simply don’t know, but we do know that we have a God who loves us and promises us that He will sustain us through it all. However, in this particular season, we have no clue just how long this “middle” moment will last. If only we knew that this time next week it would all be over, we could hang on, we aren’t guaranteed that we simply feel stuck. In 2nd Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat gets really bad news, a massive army is on their way to attack his kingdom. Jehoshaphat immediately turns to God in prayer, beginning with acknowledging that God is still in control. This is such a great detail that can be quickly overlooked, where does our mind go when we first get bad news? There is no doubt that confusion and fear rushed in, yet Jehoshaphat turned in that moment to the only thing he knew that could rescue him and his people.
God responds to Jehoshaphat’s prayer with a promise. God tells Jehoshaphat that on the following day He will fight for the kingdom, and God will make them victorious. What a promise! But, wouldn’t it have been amazing if God could have just gone ahead and wiped out the enemy that night, why make Jehoshaphat wait another day? I hate waiting, I’m a very impatient person, waiting makes me anxious, and I begin to pick plans apart and try to figure things out on my own. I wonder what it was like that night for Jehoshaphat, or for the families in his kingdom. Did they sleep much, did they sleep at all? Were they at peace, or were they worried about what the next day would bring? In these moments in the middle, what do we hold on to? Jehoshaphat was holding on to God. In 2nd Chronicles 20:12b Jehoshaphat speaks volumes when he says to God, “I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on You.” This was his heart’s cry in the time of waiting. Jehoshaphat was looking to God and God alone to get him through. The next day God did what he said, and Jehoshaphat and his people worshiped God as they had done from the beginning.
Now I know what you are thinking, Jehoshaphat only had to wait overnight, Mary and Martha only had to wait a few days, what about the waiting we do over weeks, months, and years? The time frame may be different, but the solution is the same. It might not be easy in the middle of it all, maybe even more difficult when we have no clue what is happening or how God is working for us at the moment but know that God is at work. Do not be afraid to admit to God that you have no idea what you are going to do, but let’s keep our eyes focused on Him, and hold fast to our hope in Him as we remain stuck in the middle.
Grace and peace to you.
This is the beginning of a string of posts from scripture called “Stories from the Middle. Join me on this journey as I encourage myself and hopefully someone else along the way with testimonies from scripture.