Good and patient are two attributes of God I’ve been meditating on. The first I have sorely misjudged and the second I’ve overlooked almost entirely. But as I continue on into this new year, by his power and grace, I’m pursuing new ways of thinking and renewing old mindsets. This doesn’t look like doing anything new, but simply embracing the mind I already have in Christ. I share to remind myself of the things he is teaching me and also to encourage the ones desiring deeper truth and more of him. For that is the true reward of our searching, more of him.
God is good.
We say it all the time, He is a good Father. This statement could not be more true. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” [Psalm 34:8] God is the very essence of good and all he created is good. He is the only good. “No one is good but One, that is, God.” [Mark 10:18] Lately though, I’ve been challenged to review my terminology with God.
I think I grew up, like most of us, with a skewed definition of what good was. I thought good meant that no harm would come to me, that I would have joy and happiness, void of all pain and heartache. Essentially, I believed good was the absence of bad.
By now I know that life following Jesus is not a life void of pain and suffering. I don’t understand why things happen the way they do sometimes. But what I do know is that God is still good. It is his very nature. And when I can’t trust circumstance or even my own heart, I know I can trust him [1 John 3:20]. He works in ways we don’t see and beyond our comprehension for his greater glory.
Still, I often attach my circumstance and good fortune to the goodness of God. And while that’s not entirely wrong, it’s not what I want to be about. It’s not what he meant when he said, I will work all things together for the good of those who love me [Rom 8:28]. All things meaning the good and the bad. He’s not scared of the bad and neither should we be. He redeems all. He IS the redeemer. God is good not because of the things he does for us, but because of who he is.
God is patient.
I laugh at this one because I feel slightly hypocritical. Patience is hard. How many times I’ve said, I’m just waiting on God. Which in and of itself is a good thing. “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! [Psalm 27:14]
However, I think it’s important to question.. Are we waiting ON God or are we waiting IN God? Do we sit, twiddling our thumbs, or do we keep walking with a heart and mind bent toward his will. It’s easy to equate rest and waiting with passivity. But God’s rest is a matter of identity and knowing that the work is finished. He finished it [John 19:30]. What follows is the overflow of that knowledge and belief. We are waiting for his return, yet as we wait, we are alert, vigilant, sober minded, watching with hopeful anticipation, keeping our jar of oil filled. [1 Peter 4:7; Matt 24; Matt 25:1-13] None of this sounds passive to me, but more like an active waiting.
To the point, as much as we are called to wait, the Lord is also waiting on us.. [insert mic drop]. “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” [2 Peter 3:8-9]
Time is irrelevant to God. He is not running on our schedules. When we think he is taking forever to bring about his plans, we forget that he is not bound by anything except his will. And he wills that none should perish, but that all would reach repentance. So he waits for us because he is merciful and kind. God is not indifferent toward us, but he is patient beyond all we know.
As his children, my hope is that we make it our aim to pursue new and better ways of thinking and being this year. That we would not conform to the world’s thinking, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds and therefore the renewing of our hearts and lives and we seek to understand. To discern that which is good and true [Rom 12:2]. The holy spirit desires to help us if we ask.
Ultimately, I pray for more revelation of the Father’s goodness and patience toward us. I pray that we would challenge ourselves to know God more and differently than we’ve known before. Who he is. All that he is. He is vast and his attributes far exceed the heavens and the earth. I pray that knowing him would draw us further into his heart and deeply root us in faith.
I’m tempted to not want to remember 2020. Painful memories and disappointments that led to a lot of lamenting, yet with them, breakthrough. And for that reason, I reminisce. Not because I enjoy suffering, but because of what it gives birth to. The pursuit is not suffering. The pursuit is Jesus. And our suffering gives way to his likeness. Romans 5 has been on my mind lately. This idea of persevering. And not just that, but persevering in hope.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” [Romans 5:1-5]
Disappointments endeavor to steal away our hope. More than ever this year I felt like I had to fight to remain hopeful. I’d tell myself it would be okay because God is good and he would make it right eventually. Which is all true, but after awhile I grew tiresome even in this, until the Lord gently revealed to me the area of self-reliance. Again, calling me back to a place of sweet surrender and reliance upon him.
I often equated perseverance with hardship. As if it’s something I had to strive for or work at. This idea of enduring just seems laboursome. But I’m learning that it doesn’t have to be.
Yes, long-suffering requires patience and trust, but what it doesn’t require is might. Paul, in Romans 5, talks about our sufferings producing a kind of endurance, the kind that in turn produces a character in us that gives way to hope. And better yet, a hope that does not disappoint! For it is the hope of the glory of God, in whom we have eternal peace and joy through Jesus. Believers, you also have this hope in you. Living and active! For God has already poured out his love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit IN US.
I want to encourage you – the thing that brings about suffering and causes you to lose hope is actually the very thing the Lord is using to produce a perseverance and new hope in you! This kind of character and hope is found no other way but through the persevering. There is no striving to endure, only surrendering to the process already at work.
Persevering in hope is near impossible when we look to own strength. But praise God we don’t have to! Praise God for allowing suffering. Praise his Spirit who is already moving through our sorrow as we submit to him. And praise Jesus for his redemptive work within us.
Be curious ones :: curiosity is what draws us into the presence of God. Longing to know that which we don’t understand can either bring us pure frustration or deep humility. In an effort to know God we can grow weary. I think one solution to this lies with the question, How do we posture our hearts toward God? With obligation or might? Or that of wonder and awe?
Moses, in the Bible, was drawn toward the burning bush out of a curiosity at something he did not understand nor think possible. There he was met by God. Only he first had to remove his sandals, for the Lord said he was on holy ground. I sometimes think what would’ve happened if Moses hadn’t removed his sandals. If he walked on by and just ignored this phenomenon all together?
If we long to hear the voice of God, we must first learn to posture our hearts toward humility. With a desire to know the heart of God. We must come with an open mind and act with obedient faith—God will meet us there. And we will be left in awe of who he is, all that he is and all that we do not yet know. For who can understand him? He is beyond all things. But those that seek him WILL be found by him. And their peace will be sure. Their joy abundant. And their hope secure.
Lately I’ve been thinking I should have more answers.. more knowledge as to defend my faith. And that’s good, I believe God wants that for us. But maybe more than us pursuing and wanting knowledge, God just wants us—our love, our affections, our obedience, our hearts inclined to his.
We do not have to understand him to know him. But we do have to seek him to truly find him. He is not far and in fact he is very near. My encouragement is that as we become curious ones, we would draw near to the heart of God and into the fullness of his presence. Emmanuel. God with us.
Embracing the present moment :: I heard someone say today, “Don’t count down the days til the end of quarantine, count UP the days to how much you can grow in this time.” And I think about wisdom and wanting to know what Jesus desires for us right now. Has it changed or has it always been the same and now maybe we begin to see differently? Because our eyes are looking around, our hearts are looking in, and our mind is looking for an answer.
There are a lot of voices out there right now. But the voice of Jesus and the wisdom found in his word are the only ones that matter. So here I give glory and testimony to Jesus.
When quarantine drove us indoors, I started asking the Lord a million questions. And I was always given the same answers - “I love you. I’ve got this. You can trust me. Stay right here where I can love you best.” Resting in his plan is easy when we know his nature.
That said, this time “alone” for the most part has been raw and refining for me. I’ve messed up countless times, but I’ve also had moments of victory over my emotions and selfishness. And every time I’ve chosen the better way, the way that leads to more of Jesus, I literally weep with joy and thankfulness. His power helps me choose, his grace is sufficient and his presence is enough. I am in love with this man Jesus - all he’s done, all he IS.
These days are short and precious days to be pouring out our affections for him - the only thing that will last for eternity. Let’s not waste this gift of time and opportunity to choose to love him with everything we are! “Lord teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” [Ps.90:12]
This weekend as we consider the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, my prayer is that we’re all beginning to see it with new hope, greater love and clarity and with more vibrancy than ever before.
“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. May we look carefully then how we walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” [Eph. 5:13-17]
“When we have sold our identity to the judges of this world, we are bound to become restless, because of a growing need for affirmation and praise. Indeed we are tempted to become low-hearted because of our constant self-rejection. And we are in serious danger of becoming isolated, since friendship and love are impossible without a mutual vulnerability.” – Henri Nouwen
This passage from Nouwen’s book, Out of Solitude, has been on my mind recently. It’s true, isolation is becoming more of a danger than ever. It’s easy to hide behind our phones, computers, social accounts, blogs and platforms. But human connection, not digital connection, is what we were designed for.
Proverbs 18:1 says, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire.” It says in verse 24, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
I’ve known the destructiveness of being isolated. And I’ve known the sweetness of beautiful, vulnerable friendship. Nothing is better than knowing the love of a true friend. I’m so thankful this season for the sweet gift of friendship with my Savior–our truest friend, Jesus. No one could ever amount to his companionship and love.
The holiday season can be really hard for some. I know it has been for me lately. But take comfort that Jesus sees you. He’d want you to know you’re not alone no matter how isolated you feel. His hand of friendship extends to all without hesitation and without judgment. His love is the answer to your deepest need and his friendship will satisfy your every desire.