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Hope in Captivity

“Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God” – Psalm 69:1-3.

THIS IS NOT a typical optimistic post everyone expects at the beginning of the year, but for some it may strike a cord in the heart having commenced this New Year with unfavourable circumstances lingering on from the previous year(s).

For many, the New Year’s celebration has in some ways become a religious ritual where the ‘miracle’ to all change begins – and indeed positive transformations have transpired as a result of making those resolutions, but not everyone is fortunate enough to make certain changes possible.

I’m sure there are those who anticipated new changes once December drew to a close, believing they would launch out into 2015, shrugging off the former year(s) devoured by locusts (wasted), but instead a sense of disappointment and dread competes to gain upper ground because situations, outside of one’s control, remains the same.

Does this forecast the remaining year? Child of God, are you left to fate or are your steps ordered by the Lord? Listen to the psalmist, “You Who have made me see many troubles and calamities…” (Psalm 72:20). Being led in the Shepherd’s paths of righteousness is not always tranquil and it is an outright lie to state that the Christian knows no turmoil because such would be the ‘opposite of faith’. If we really know our Bibles then we shall agree that genuine faith is proved, tried and grown in fires. Almost all Christian growth comes out of grief. The Psalms are full of praise, worship and celebration but they also drip with sorrow and anguish of heart. Be sure that if you belong to the Shepherd you will encounter intense pain where words fail to adequately describe, but what relief we find in knowing that God sees absolutely everything and is touched deeply by what is too profoundly painful for us to make head and tail of. God is still – and always will be – sovereignly in control over all the chaos we may experience. It is not just God feeling and understanding our pain, but the whole aspect of what we encounter and may sometimes deem as useless is being worked beautifully together for the very best. Have we ever wondered over the fact that many of our tears of joy are going to well up with amazement at how God made perfect sense and brought such unmatchable beauty from what appeared to be tragic waste?

From God’s perspective, order that has been ordained is coming into place by the command of His Word, just like when the earth was without form and void and darkness was over the face of the deep (Genesis 1:2). Was all that made or was it just some kind of uncreated chaotic matter drifting aimlessly? Notice how the Holy Spirit hovered over the face of the waters before order (as we know it) was set in place (verse 2). Creation was a work in progress but each step was perfectly performed by a flawless God. The void, formlessness and darkness was created by God; it is a part of His creation. Those of us who have been saved by grace are new creations in Christ and such a work of salvation will be brought to perfect completion. Indeed, God shall rest from His work of salvation in our lives one day and say “it is good” – what an incredibly and awestricken state of mind and sight we shall be in after hearing those words!

Joseph may or may have placed his dreams on the ‘backburner’ or even abandoned them altogether after the years rolled on in captivity to the Egyptians and being confined to a criminal’s prison. No doubt he must have been conscious at times of God’s favour being over him, but was it limited; was his confined life in Egypt the best he would ever amount to? Had he come to accept this was his lot?

How many times Joseph must have cried out, “How long Oh Lord…have You indeed forgotten me?” especially after when he turned away the pleasures of sin, that instead of being honoured, he was thrown from prison into the dungeon itself. That is sometimes the scenario of those who loyally pursue God; instead of being ‘blessed’ they are thrown into deeper trials. How it sharply contradicts what we know to be, but God is taking us beyond the surface of the Scriptures; He is bringing us to a deeper and life-experience of them.

Faith is not necessarily about having all our expectations met, but rather trusting the character of God though all hell should insinuate that He has broken His promise:

“…His promise is Yea and Amen,
And never was forfeited yet.
Things future, nor things that are now,
Not all things below nor above,
Can make Him His purpose forgo,
Or sever my soul from His love.”

(Augustus Montague Toplady)

“For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise His own people who are prisoners” (Psalm 69:33). Not for a moment are we abandoned in the thickest night. Though all around should make us tremble and we despair of even life itself, we shall be led to the Rock that is infinitely higher than ourselves. Our feet are already upon the Rock, even though we may feel a prisoner to our circumstances, but how the Holy Spirit gently leads us to these ‘still waters’ where our fears and anxieties are hushed in the light of God’s unsurpassable care of us. How He hears us groan where words are nowhere to be found, nor does He become weary of us when we pour out our hearts unto Him a hundred times a day. Are we not taught through painful seasons to run unto Him instead of fretting ourselves to exhaustion over what troubles us? Does it not bring joy to the heart of God that we recognise Him as our High Tower, our Shelter, our Refuge – that we seek comfort under the shadow of His wings and that nothing else matters but to hear Him say, “I am with you and for you”? Nothing can match that; nothing can calm the aching heart with such assurance; no explanation is needed for the pain endured, just the knowledge that He is ever with us, guiding us through all that remains complexly dark.

Child of God, take this to heart and joyously repeat it before God, with tears if need be: “You Who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth You will bring me up again… and comfort me again” (Psalm 72:20-21).

 

Heavenly Father, how I long to be so close to you, knowing the shadow of Your wings brooding over me and to hear You say, “You are Mine and all is well.” Nothing calms my fears and cares but when hearing You and when Your Spirit brings to my remembrance, with such assurance, that all these complex twists, turns and the nothingness is surely working together according to Your plan. I renew my trust in You today and I worship You, You Whose ways are past finding out and Whose wisdom and love is infinitely unrivalled. Be glorified in me this year and in such ways beyond all I could ever imagine, in and through the precious name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

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