Dead End Paths (Part 3): When God’s Promises Don’t Make Sense

“Why, my soul, are you downcast?  Why so disturbed within me?”

I knelt at the foot of my bed as tear after tear spilled over from the pain and discouragement that filled my heart and the weariness that plagued my body.  I was so tired that if I wanted to stand I had to be propped up against a wall like some board that no longer had a purpose.  I was so weary that my body sought sleep like a parched land, yet it was so fatigued that when I lay down I couldn’t sleep.

And more than that, I knew that the verse from Philippians that said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

But, therein was the crux of the matter.

No matter how much I pled with God…

I didn’t have strength.

  1. Couldn’t. Do. Anything.

And as the full reality of my situation unfolded before me I became discouraged.  As the promises that I read from God’s word didn’t make sense, my mind was greatly disturbed and my soul was downcast.

You know, the Israelites found themselves in a similar state of discouragement.  They had received a promise from God – a promise of deliverance that had brought embers of hope to their lives…

But it wasn’t happening.

In fact, just the opposite was occurring.

Not only had Pharaoh refused to let them go, but he had increased their labor to such a degree it was impossible to fulfill…

And then he allowed them to be beaten because they couldn’t do the impossible.

In spite of the promises that God reaffirmed to them (Exodus 6), they didn’t listen because their discouragement was so great and their labor was so harsh.

And you know what?

I can totally relate.

It is soooo hard to hang onto God’s promises when they don’t unfold how you think they will…or even how they have in the past.

When I was hit with a weak heart and adrenal fatigue, my whole life was turned upside down and inside out.  In the past, when I had faced a difficult situation that was physically taxing, I would pray and ask God to give me the strength to do what I needed to do…

And He would supply the strength.

That was not the case this time.  He wasn’t giving me the strength to do all the things I thought I needed to be doing.

Instead, He was teaching me that through Him, I could have strength to rest.

It took me a loooog time and many discouraging days to discover this new aspect of His promise from Philippians 4:19…that I can do all things – even rest – through Him who gives me strength.

And with the unfolding of that lesson, I learned another one.

When God brings me into a trial, He will often give me a promise in the midst of it….

But it doesn’t always unfold in the way that I think it will.

And I think the reason for that is so that I will learn to wait…to be still…to be patient…and to keep looking to Him to unfold His promises to me and for me to such a way that I am often left standing in awe at His greatness…His power…His majesty…His tender care for me…His unique provisions…His gifts that He bestows.

Regardless of the struggles that I face, God will always make a path for His goodness to reach me…

And He will always fulfill His promises to me…

Just as He did for the Israelites so long ago.  He did bring them out of Egypt.  He did deliver them from their bondage…

But it happened in a much different way than they would have ever imagined or expected.

And that brings me to the third lesson that I have learned…

Just as God gave me the strength to rest physically, He is also the One who provides what my soul needs so that it too can find the rest that it needs…

Regardless of the circumstances that I am facing…

For it is under the shelter of His wings that I can find a spacious place for my soul to find rest even though the pressures that are surrounding me increase a hundred fold.

Here are some thoughts that reflect this truth.

Return To Your Rest, O My Soul

Return to your rest, my weary soul,

For the Lord has been good to you.

Under His wings you can surely abide.

And there strength to rest you will truly find.

Return to your rest, my fearful soul,

For the Lord has been good to you.

No longer tremble when alarm you face,

For the Lord will be with you in that place.

Return to your rest, my wandering soul,

For the Lord has been good to you.

Drink from His well and there you will know,

Water that quenches the thirst of your soul.

Return to your rest, my tortured soul,

For the Lord has been good to you.

Though fragmented with many shards of pain,

God’s compassion for you will never wain.

Return to your rest, my afflicted soul,

For the Lord has been good to you.

For when troubles of deep keep you bound,

Comfort from above will always be found.

Return to your rest, my anxious soul,

For the Lord has been good to you.

With a thankful heart, present your requests,

And with His peace you will be blessed.

Return to your rest, my discouraged soul,

For the Lord has been good to you,

Be of good courage and always know,

The Lord will be with you wherever you go.

Return to your rest, my needy soul,

For the Lord has been good to you.

Faithful to you He will forever be,

And He will provide for every need.

Return to your rest, my suffering soul,

For the Lord has been good to you.

Though now many trials of suffering you face,

One day, you’ll be restored by the God of all grace.
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