By Catherine Segars, Crosswalk.com
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 NAS)
Do you ever get the feeling that your idea of what you need is different than God’s idea?
Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken. (Psalm 55:22 NIV)
Do you ever get the feeling that God’s definition of “shaken” and yours aren’t the same?
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace . . . will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. (1 Peter 5:10 NAS)
Do you ever get the feeling that God’s time frame for measuring “a little while” and yours aren’t in the same ballpark? The same zip code?
I do too.
Sometimes the load gets so heavy, and I don’t know how to lighten it. The burdens of today consume my thoughts, and I forget the spiritual breakthroughs and the answered prayers. I forget all the times that God has worked things together for my good.
Then suddenly, I remember that I need to remember:
I need to remember what the burdens make me forget. I need to remember God’s faithfulness.
Are You Discouraged When Scripture and Your Life Don’t Match Up?
But remembering is hard to do when the promises of Scripture don’t resemble reality.
I stand on these verses (Philippians 4:19, Psalm 55:22, 1 Peter 5:10). I pray them night and day. I live and breathe them. Sometimes I scream them. I’m coming to the (long) overdue conclusion that God’s perspective and mine aren’t the same.
That shouldn’t surprise me. After all, I’m human and He’s God. I’m the created and He’s the Creator. I’m finite and He’s infinite.
Still, I’m surprised when God answers my prayers differently than I think He should. No—I’m more than surprised—I’m frustrated and discouraged and even angry.
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Is God Not Faithful When He Answers Differently Than We Expect?
I was angry when the young boy we interceded for daily, for two years, went to be with Jesus. We believed—God answered differently.
I was discouraged when we joined the prayer team for the young mother of five with a death sentence, and she left this life far too soon. We believed—God answered differently.
I’m frustrated with my health challenges that still have no answers, thousands and thousands of dollars later. I believe—but His answer is different than what I’m believing Him for.
Is God not faithful in these situations? Is He only faithful when He answers the way I think He should?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)
His ways and thoughts are higher than mine, Isaiah says. Sometimes I don’t’ like that verse. I want God to think like me.
Why Don’t I Remember God’s Faithfulness When I Need To?
But then there are those times when God does think like me, or, more accurately, I think like Him. Like the time when Kirby, my 80-pound Basset Hound, needed orthopedic surgery on his shoulder. I went to the altar in tears crying out for God to heal him—we didn’t have the money to heal him ourselves. He got better. I have no other reason to offer for his healing than prayer.
Then there was the time my brother was diagnosed with a softball-sized tumor in his kidney. If it spread, it was fatal. How could a tumor that size not have spread? We prayed. They took out his kidney. The tumor hadn’t spread.
Then there was the time I lost a precious little one in my womb, and God told me to pray for the child that was to come. At the age of 44, this was a tall order. So, I prayed like a Benedictine monk for seven months with my husband at my side, countless hours. She finally came. The last month was spent in the hospital, and my OB had to take her out of me with mere minutes to spare—but she was safe. I realized that a mountain of prayer was necessary to get her here, and a mountain of prayer did. Good thing we didn’t stop praying.
He was faithful, so very faithful.
Yes, there were all of those times when God answered my prayers just as I hoped He would, just as I thought He should. Why don’t I remember those times when I need to?
The Israelites Had a Unique Way of Remembering.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites would set up a pile of stones in a place where God did something big, where He answered prayer in a monumental way. These monuments were called stones of remembrance.
Jacob wrestled with God, and he set up a pillar to commemorate his encounter with the Lord. (Genesis 28)
The Israelites were facing an imminent attack from the Philistines, who had a superior army, and God delivered them. So, they erected a massive stone called Ebenezer, which means “the stone of help,” to publicly declare God’s victory (1 Samuel 7).
God rolled back the Jordan River and the Israelites passed by on dry ground, so they gathered a huge pile of rocks to recall His mighty deed (Joshua 4).
“In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, “‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’” For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea.” (Joshua 4:21-23 NIV)
Obviously these ancient believers couldn’t pick up a journal at the dollar store and a ball point pen to scribble down what had happened. They didn’t have an iPhone to take a picture and a Facebook or Instagram feed to post it on, so they piled up some stones to remember God’s faithfulness.
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We Need Some Stones.
We're spoiled, aren’t we? If I want to remember something, I dictate it into my phone and set up a reminder. And I can snooze or close it when it pops up. Or, if it is more than a bullet point, I type it up and save it as a journal file on my computer. And then . . . I forget about it because I never see those files. They aren’t the monument I need to remember God‘s faithfulness.
I need to see something in front of me.
I need something substantial that stands in my way and forces me to remember God’s faithfulness before I go on with my journey.
I need a pile of stones. We all do.
Stones Remember God’s Faithfulness in a Way That Cannot Be Ignored.
Stones cry out to us. They tell us to remember all the times God has been faithful in a way that made sense. And if He was faithful in those situations that we do understand, He will be faithful in the situations that we don’t. He will be faithful when the answers confuse and frustrate us, when they make us angry, when they leave us on our bathroom floor crying our guts out at 2:00 a.m.
He will be faithful. Even then.
I need some stones. I need some today. I’ll start with Kirby’s stone, and then my brothers. And I’ll rejoice as I look at my precious baby doll who wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for that mountain of prayer. She is a living, breathing, giggling, sneezing stone of remembrance.
Ask God to Give You Some Stones.
What are the stones in your life? Ask God to remind you. He will. Gather those stones and let’s start building a pile. We can add some Scripture in there too, some verses that feed the faith within us. Start with this one:
I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” . . . What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do. (Isaiah 46:10-11 NIV)
God promises to be faithful to His word, and His purposes will come to pass in our lives. We need that stone! Then we can add:
God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19 NIV)
God isn’t like all the people who have disappointed us. He isn’t like us. He will be faithful to His promises. Let’s stick that stone on the mound!
We can top the pile with this:
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us. (Ephesians 3:20 NIV)
We can’t even imagine what He is up to, so let’s not try. Just know that it will blow our minds because, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (2 Corinthians 2:9 NLT).
That is the perfect jewel to crown our monument!
That is one fine- looking pile of stones, a force to be reckoned with, an altar to commemorate God’s faithfulness in our lives.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Simon Schmitt
When Your Load Gets Heavy, Lean...
When the burden of all your unanswered prayers starts to weigh you down, lighten your load with a pile of stones. Lean on them as you remember God’s faithfulness and His promises.
One day it will all make sense. We will see the other side of the tapestry, the pretty side, and God will be proven right in all that He allowed. But for now, let’s make a big pile of stones. His answer may not be here yet, but these stones remind us that God is faithful when we understand His ways. And He is faithful when we don’t.
Catherine Segars is an award-winning actress and playwright—turned stay-at-home-mom—turned author, speaker, blogger and motherhood apologist. She is launching the Mere Mother website in October 2019, which will delve into critical issues that marginalize mothers in our culture. This homeschooling mama of five is dedicated to helping mothers see their worth in a season when they often feel overwhelmed and irrelevant. You can find Catherine’s blog, dramatic blogcast, and other writings at www.catherinesegars.com and connect with her on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/motherhoodfaithandculture/).
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Chris Coe