Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Thy Way Not Mine O Lord"1 (Lyrics)
One of the big news stories of the past summer was of the wildfires that plagued British Columbia, Canada. Two months without rain made the forests tinder-dry. Lightning storms lit new fires day after day, and high winds spread them quickly. Tens of thousands of people were put on evacuation alert or mandatory evacuation, and were not allowed to go home — if their homes had escaped the flames — for several weeks. The fires and smoke disrupted tourism, upon which many residents of the affected areas depend for their livelihood. The province-wide state of emergency was renewed three times, making it the longest such state of emergency in the province's history.
At the coast, for several weeks we were spared the smoke that filled the air downwind from the fires in the interior of the province. However, later, smoke from the states of California, Oregon, and Washington drifted northward and filled the coastal valleys. There were times when we looked up our otherwise pristine inlet, and could barely make out the outline of a mountain a mere mile away.
As I considered the dense smoke, I couldn't help but think how our view of God and His plans for us are likewise largely obscured from view. Scripture continually assures us that God loves us and wants the best for us, but when our lives take a turn for the worse, sometimes we begin to wonder whether it's really true. We ask God to turn our situation around, but when it doesn't happen, we wonder if God really does hear our prayers after all. Sickness and death plague us, and God doesn't seem to do anything about it. Where is His reputed benevolence and righteousness? It is totally obscured from view.
Just because we can't see them beyond the smoke, the mountains still exist. We have charts and maps to go by to indicate where they are. Likewise, the Scriptures outline the personality, will, and ways of God, so that we can know Him and the kinds of things that He characteristically does to bring about the best in our lives. Sometimes, He allows suffering and privation to affect us; He knows that such things can strengthen our faith in Him and draw us closer to Him in dependence.
Hebrews 12:5-7 – And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? (NKJV)
Prayer: Lord, often, when You seem farthest away is the time when we need You the most. At such times, reassure us of Your undying love for us and draw us closer to Yourself. Amen.