O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?
How long will you look the other way?
(Psalm 13:1, NLT)
The silence of heaven. The dark night of the soul. The desert place. We hurt. We cry out to God. But we wonder if He has forgotten us. We believe He is sovereign, yet it seems as if He is no longer looking at us in our circumstances. We pray. We persist like the widow in Jesus’ story (Luke 18:1-9), waiting for the Lord to answer, trusting He hears us as His word promises (1 John 5:14-15). But we receive no reply. No indication we have been heard. We wonder how long.
A short time ago our new community minister at Oak Hills Church talked to some of the community leaders and in the midst of his discussion he made a simple comment about growth occurring in the trenches. His comment resonated with me because, recently, when asking the Lord what I had to write about, what I could pass on to others, He reminded me of the trenches. But what about the trenches? I thought about the many uplifting stories I hear and what sometimes discourages me about them. Books, stories and testimonies often highlight the successes but gloss over the trenches. We like to hear about the mountain top experiences and the miraculous answer to prayers, except when it seems that, for us, heaven is silent, and God has looked the other way.
Throughout of my naval career (and subsequently, my christain adult life) I often prayed for women encouragers. Don’t get me wrong, the Lord brought some amazing women into my life over the years. But I longed for the encouragers, the ones who speak life into our lives, who have just the right word of wisdom or insight, who are bold enough to point out when we are in error, who put their arms around us and tell us we are loved with an infinite love and that we will make it. I prayed. I prayed some more. But heaven seemed silent.
Those years seemed like a long walk in the trenches. But, looking back, I realize, might it be, He allowed me time in the trenches, because in the trenches is when we really grow.
It wasn’t until the past few years that the floodgates of heaven finally opened and those prayers thought to have fallen on silent ears have poured out with incredible answers. I stand in awe. I am amazed. I am humbled. And I am thankful beyond words. Had my years been filled with these women, I might have thought it commonplace, just part of everyone’s christian experience. But sadly, we know it to not often be the case.. And knowing that, I cherish it all the more.
God had not forgotten me. He was not looking the other way. He was watching me suffer and grow. He was teaching me how to lean on Him, to be encouraged by His Spirit and not depend on the words of men and women. And like He promises, I’m not to grow weary and give up doing what is good. When I don’t lose heart in the trenches, when I trust in Him, I will reap the harvest in His perfect time.
Father, when it seems you have forgotten me and looked the other way, remind me of your great and many promises. When I walk in the desert place, when the night is dark, and heaven is silent, strengthen my heart for what you are teaching me. Thank you, Father, that you love me enough to give me time and room to grow before reaching the mountain top.
grace & peace