The Casting Crowns’ song, Praise You in the Storm, begins –
In the middle of trials and disappointments it often seems like the Lord is slow. That must have been the thinking of those who were the first of the exiles taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. They had been told by false prophets that their exile would be short. Soon they would be going back home.
Jeremiah the prophet was still in Jerusalem and the Lord directed him to write the exiles a letter. This letter is found in Jeremiah 29. Many today have taken hold of Jeremiah 29:11 as a great promise from God. That verse is featured on many plaques in Christian’s homes and pics on Facebook. It was a great promise of God for those in exile. But to miss the context is to misapply the point of the promise.
Judah will not be coming home soon. The exile will be seventy years. The exiles are told to get married, have children, build houses, and plant gardens. Settle down. It will be a while.
In the midst of trials and suffering we want a promise from God that will encourage us and give us hope. So we turn to passages like Jeremiah 29:11 or Romans 8:28. And when relief doesn’t come quickly, we feel abandoned and forgotten by God.
The Lord is always present with his people when we are suffering. His grace is always sufficient. He is always at work for our good. But he does not promise that it will be short or quick. Sometimes the Lord finds it necessary to keep us in the midst of trials longer – even much longer – than we wish or hope.
The Lord promised relief and hope for his people in exile. In our times of trial, he promises grace and the assurance our trials will work for our ultimate good. But he does not promise that will happen quickly.
So how do you endure when there seems to be no end in sight? Jeremiah 29:13-14 gives us the answer.
- Pray. Don’t allow your current trial to separate you from your ongoing daily relationship with the Lord. Too often when we feel that God has not acted quickly enough, we turn away from him and compound our problem. Spend time with the Lord.
- Seek the Lord with all your heart. I am convinced that most of the significant trials I have experienced have been designed to move me from self-reliance to greater trust in the Lord. Use your trial to learn to repent of your self-reliance and seek the Lord with your whole heart.
How long will your trial last? Only the Lord knows. Do not give up. The Lord’s timing is best and he will sustain you.
How has the Lord sustained you in the midst of a trial that lasted “too long?”