One Lump or Two?

My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
Psalm 62:5

It’s my nightly routine.

Place favorite mug on the counter.
Heat up the water.
Lay tea bag in the mug.
Pour steaming hot water in and let it steep.
Add spoonfuls of sugar.  (Yummy and sweet).
Splash in some milk.

Evening tea.  It’s been years since I’ve gone to bed without drinking it and it’s become a sort of security blanket.  I’m not sure if I could sleep without a cup.

Even worse, maybe I’d lie awake just because the tea wasn’t in my favorite mug and instead dumped into some random coffee cup grabbed from the cupboard.  That’d be like someone trying to swap a precious teddy bear for some unfamiliar spare stashed at the bottom of the toy box.

Last night, I sat down to my steaming cup, took a sip,  . . .

gulped and grimaced.

Instead of sweet tea, I tasted bitterness.  I’d filled the sugar canister, but never put any sugar in my mug.

Have you ever been a little disappointed?  You hope for something sweet and taste undrinkable bitterness instead?

The Israelites wandered through the desert for three days, searching for water.  Each day, their hunt must have grown more desperate.  How long could they survive out there, moving through endless wilderness without water to drink?  And then they arrived at Marah and there was water and they felt that rush of joy that accompanies salvation!

But the water was bitter and undrinkable.  It seemed like cruel disappointment considering their true need.  They weren’t asking at that point for luxury; they were asking for necessary provision and it seemed like God had failed them.

Yet, there at Marah, “Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink” (Exodus 15:25).

The Israelites placed their hope in their water-finding abilities.  They hoped for an oasis or a stream in the desert. And when they found what they had been looking for all along, they also discovered disappointment.

Moses placed his hope in God instead, knowing that even bitterness can be transformed into water for the thirsty.

When we place our hope in God, we will never be disappointed. But when we instead look for what we think we need, we misplace our hope in:

the job we think is secure
the financial answer to our bills
the debt program that’s going to transform our life
the 401K that’s going to make our retirement comfortable
the weight loss program that is going to make shedding the pounds easy
the husband who is going to make us feel loved and not lonely any more

the ministry that we can put our energies into
the friendship that makes us feel connected
the church with the programs we think will fit our needs

There are oh so many places to deposit our hope and each could yield bitter disappointment.  But the Psalmist wrote: My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him” (Psalm 62:5).

We wait for God only.  Not God plus the answer to our problem.  Not God and the life preserver from some friendly bystander who sees us drowning from the shore.

God.  And if He what He offers to us is a program or plan or a friend, then we accept His gift, but we never depend on the gift itself. 

We hope in God alone.  Only He can provide what we truly need.  And if it’s insufficient or bitter, He can transform it into plentiful abundance and sweet blessing, making “everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Do You See?

Yesterday, I was thinking about how sometimes we disappoint God, but He still always loves us.

Today, I’m thinking about the times when God disappoints us.

Now, I know that ultimately in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV).  I know He loves us and He promises never to leave us.   If I really consider it, I don’t really want a God who is small enough to fit into my finite understanding of how things should be.  If all God did for me was give me what I want, He’d be nothing more than a prayer vending machine rather than an all-powerful, all-knowing God whose plans and ways are much higher than mine.

Still, life is hard.  There’s no sidestepping that fact.  Little kids have cancer, people lose jobs and homes, husbands die, marriages are broken, bank accounts are empty.  And, if we’re being honest, we may very well feel confused, frustrated, hurt and disappointed by what God is doing because we can’t always see Him working in our circumstances.

It’s okay to be honest with God.  He’s big enough to handle the hard questions and gracious enough to allow us to bring all of those hurts to Him, rather than us having to hide them away under our “happy Christian face.”

In the midst of the hard times, I have personally asked God three questions.

  • Do You see?
  • Are You big enough?
  • Do You love me enough?

Do You See?

I have asked God before, “Do you see what I’m going through?  Do you know that I’m waiting and struggling here?’

In Genesis 16, we see that Hagar, the maidservant of Sarai (later renamed Sarah), felt very much the same way.   After Abram and Sarai had waited for over a decade for God to give them their promised child, Sarai finally decided God needed some help.  So, she did what any woman following the customs of that time and culture would do—she gave her maidservant to her husband as a second wife.  The problem is, that was never God’s plan for Abram and Sarai.

When Hagar did get pregnant and started treating her mistress with haughty disrespect as a result, Sarai was humiliated and angry.  She told Abram: “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me” (Genesis 16:5).

That’s one angry mistress!  Sarai took all that anger out on Abram and Hagar.  The Bible says that Abram just let Sarai do whatever she wanted to Hagar (“Do with her whatever you think best”), so in her anger, she “mistreated Hagar” and Hagar ran away (Genesis 16:6).

So, here’s Hagar, pregnant, beaten by her mistress, and now fleeing through the desert.

It might seem like God would only concern Himself with the main characters in this story–Abram and his wife, Sarai, who would be the parents of the Hebrew nation.  We might not expect God to care about the Egyptian maidservant caught up in all this drama, but it says He found her near a spring in the desert, gave her instructions to return home, and promised to bless her descendants.

Then—in such an amazing way—Scripture tells us, “She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13, NIV).

God has names throughout Scripture that describe His attributes—The Lord our Healer, Peace, Everlasting Father, Our Provider, The Lord Our Banner, etc.

But, I find it so special that this hurting woman, a woman overlooked and mistreated by other people, a woman who wasn’t even a Hebrew–but an Egyptian–was allowed to give God the very first “name” in Scripture–-The God Who Sees Me.

Be assured that God sees you, also.  He knows exactly where you are in the wilderness.  Just as He did for Hagar, He has a plan and purpose for you and as you yield to Him, He will fulfill it.

I’ll tackle the other two questions—Are You big enough? and Do You love me enough? later.  Stay tuned!

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King