I don’t know how God will do it, but somehow, while you are in your dark and lonely place, God will come to where you are and confirm His faithfulness and His promises to you! God will use your dark, lonely place of despair as a banner to write His love over your life!
Elijah had his ravens; Moses had his burning bush; Jesus had His empty tomb. God has a way of showing us that it will be all right. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us, and He never will. — John Patterson
Those are encouraging words – hope for those waiting for an answer to prayer, a lifeline for those who are intimately acquainted with despair. God always comes through, one way or another, and usually not in the way we expect.
Elijah’s story in 1 Kings chapter 17 about God sending ravens to feed him, and God using a burning bush in Exodus 3 to call Moses into service, are just two examples of the unique, unexpected ways God provides for our needs and comes to us where we are. When Mary Magdalene found the empty tomb in John chapter 20, it was evidence of Jesus fulfilling a promise that He would rise again. Although Jesus knew there would be an empty tomb, the cross was a dark, lonely place of despair as He hung there waiting to die.
Those who watched as He was crucified and died were in their own dark, lonely places of despair. The time between the cross and the empty tomb must have seemed endless to them, especially to Mary, Jesus’ mother. As a mother myself, I cannot imagine the dark despair she endured as her son was beaten, crucified, and hanging on a cross waiting to die, then placed inside a cold, dark tomb.
But that was not the end of the story! God used that dark, lonely place of despair as a banner to write His love over their life, and ours. Jesus went from a cold, dark tomb to sitting at the right hand of God, fulfilling many long-awaited promises. Promises that we can count on, because God is faithful.
“and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.” Ephesians 1:19-21
No matter how dark, lonely, or despairing our circumstances are, He is always with us, and His promises are always true. God has a way of showing us that it will be alright, and He will confirm His faithfulness to us.
Hebrews 13:5 reminds us of His promise, “He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
When I first stopped to take this picture, I was focusing on the leaves floating in a pool of water beneath a small waterfall that could barely qualify as a waterfall now. The waterfall had become only a steady drip because of weeks without much rainfall, and the pool of water it dripped into seemed to be stagnant. But as I looked closer, I could see the water had a gentle current moving under the layer of leaves, just enough to keep it from stagnating. There was a very tiny stream of water meandering down the slope above the waterfall to drip off the rock shelf, and colorful leaves accumulated in it and in this pool, as if to soak in a last drink of water before dying.
While studying the variety of leaf shapes and colors in the water, I realized that wasn’t the only thing I could see. If I shifted my focus off the leaves and onto the surface of water surrounding them I could see a reflection. It doesn’t show up as well in the picture, but you can see some of the reflection of blue sky and trees that are reflected in the pool of water.
The same picture that has fallen leaves – a sign of changing seasons, dying foliage, and evidence of drought – also has blue sky, green pine trees, and a gentle undercurrent of water – all signs of life and hope. Sometimes all it takes is to shift our focus to see things from a different perspective. And sometimes all it takes is a little hope to give us a better perspective.
We can have hope in our times of despair, because God is faithful. God keeps His promises. And He never leaves us. Never.