Moving Forward

Walking Through the Wilderness

Ever felt stuck in your life? Everything inside wants to move forward and yet you feel as if you’re running on the hamster wheel of same old, same old routine and lifestyle. I’ve been there – and recently!! There are unfulfilled dreams in the depths of our being and we feel like we will never see them become reality. We look at our life and it seems dry and barren. What happened to the fruitfulness of the past? Why does the future seem without hope? Typically when we go through difficult times, the temptation is to fall in to the POM’s (poor old me’s) or express our frustration and start complaining. Discouragement sinks in quickly and our zest for life flies out the window. What advice would you give to a friend who felt this way? What words of encouragement would help someone see their situation from a different perspective? Perhaps you might suggest that they go to church, pray, indulge in self care, listen to uplifting music, read the Bible, talk to a pastor or mentor and I’m sure they are many more words of wisdom that you might share.
What is God’s response to that place of barrenness? It may well surprise you! God says ‘Sing and Shout for Joy!’ If you are like me this is the last thing I feel like doing Isaiah 54 v1 “Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child, shout for joy, you who were never in labour; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband” The barren woman in Isaiah is a prophetic image of the spiritual barrenness of Israel. Israel was in exile – a barren place, but God would restore Israel again and bring them back to their land. In the culture of that day to be barren was the deepest humiliation for a woman. It was considered a curse as children were considered a blessing from God. To be barren was shameful; it was a cultural stigma for a woman at that time. The last thing a barren woman would want to do would be to attract attention to herself by singing and shouting for joy! Acting the opposite of what you might naturally feel like or makes sense to do is a recurring theme in the Bible. Here’s another example:
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,Though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour” Habakkuk 3v17+18 NIV
When I go through a barren or difficult time in my life, my focus tends to be either on the situation or myself and my feelings and reactions to what is happening. My whole perspective is coloured by the present reality in my life. However this is not how God sees it. God’s perspective is always looking back from completion. He sees the end result and sees our present experience from that perspective. As any mother will tell you giving birth to a child is a painful and often a long process. It’s challenging to be joyful when experiencing pain and discomfort.
However, afterwards, holding the baby and experiencing the joy in that new life the pain of that process fades and eventually be forgotten. Holding the newborn baby is the completion of the process and we can look back to the nine months of carrying that child and even the birthing process with gratefulness and joy because the result – a precious new life- is so much more wonderful than the process we experienced of becoming a mother. Life goes through seasons. Perhaps as you are reading this you are going through a season of winter or barrenness and there seems to be no signs of life on the horizon. God has not forgotten you. He has plans for good for your life not evil to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29 v11) That is your completion and you are in the process. Seasons come and seasons go. Fix your eyes on God, not on your circumstances. Sing to Him with thankfulness for the completion that’s coming. Trust Him for what you can’t see but He can. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what s unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” 2 Corinthians 4 v 17+18

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