The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away, blessed be the name of the LORD. — Job 1:21
Have you ever been sick with worry? So have I.
Everything that concerns us concerns the Lord, the Maker of the heavens and the earth. He is not silent. He is not indifferent to you or your circumstances. But He does care deeply about how you view Him. He wants you to acknowledge Him and obey His Word and embrace His gracious will for you — even in the wilderness.
There are plenty of things that can get you distracted and even anxious about your life. The tumultuous economy. The uncertain political climate. Maybe the future of your kids or grandkids.
Add to that, no matter what you do in your business nothing seems to get you above the waterline. You’re fighting alligators with everything you’ve got and you still can’t break through the wall. You might even be facing bankruptcy or looking at an ominous physical diagnosis.
That’s a lot to manage. You’re in the wilderness.
Is there any antidote to that? Actually, there is.
Consider the work of God. — Ecclesiastes 7:13
Ultimately, the Lord is behind it all. If you don’t believe that, I suggest you start reading your Bible carefully from cover to cover. There’s manna on every page for you and whatever it is that concerns you. But there’s a particular passage in the Old Testament I want to draw your attention to. It’s from Ecclesiastes and the heart and pen of Solomon.
Consider the work of God, for who is able to straighten what He has bent? In the day of prosperity be happy, But in the day of adversity consider — God has made the one as well as the other so that man will not discover anything that will be after him. — Ecclesiastes 7:13-14
You can’t watch cable news for very long before you realize the world is a political and social mess. It’s chaos out there. And all of that unrest fuels fears and uncertainties that ultimately impact our personal lives. It’s easy to wring our hands and shrink back in fear. But the Bible declares that the Lord raises up nations and sets them down. He has a plan for the ages; it is on schedule to the nanosecond. There are wars and atrocities in every corner of the world. Rumors of wars abound. But in light of the promises of God’s Word, you and I need to calm down. And we find peace by knowing and acknowledging who God is. That’s what it means to consider the works of God — especially in the wilderness, when everything is coming unglued.
God Oversees Your Prosperity
Consider the work of God, for who is able to straighten what He has bent? In the day of prosperity be happy. — Ecclesiastes 7:13
Prosperity comes from God. You might be the one working or building your business, but it is God who causes you to prosper. That’s His work. Are you an engineer? Where did you get the ability to be a mechanical engineer? How did you ever pass those courses? He gave you the ability. He gave you the aptitude. Deuteronomy 8:18 states it plainly:
It is He who is giving you power to make wealth.
Perhaps you make your living selling real estate. You have to enjoy working with all kinds of people to be a successful Realtor. Those are gifts and abilities that come from the Lord. Where did you learn how to deal with people? The Lord gave you the gifts to make a living. Consider the work of God in your life and give Him glory for that work.
He oversees your prosperity. Americans love prosperity. We want as much of it as we can get. We want it to be consistent. We want it to be uninterrupted. But God often allows that to go away in order to break our dependence of material things. But His gracious will is to bless us with abundance when we trust Him.
God told Israel as He described the prosperity of the promised land:
And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you — with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant — and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. — Deuteronomy 6:10-12 ESV
But He also warned against settling into long periods of uninterrupted prosperity. It can turn our hearts. We can be so busy enjoying the ease we forget the One who provided it in the first place. Sometimes the Lord has to regain our attention. He does that through adversity.
God Oversees the Disappointments of Your Life
The problem with dreams is they often don’t work out as we envision them. Life happens. Things change. Circumstances occur beyond our control. Dreams don’t work out as we planned. When that happens, we can feel shocked and stunned.
I can’t tell you how often I receive emails from men whose marriages are on thin ice. These guys can hardly put two sentences together because they are in such a state of shock. Maybe that’s you, or a family member, or someone you know. You’ve been there, I know.
We still live with this strange illusion that bad things won’t happen to good people. But they do. All the time. And at times, without warning. The shock sets in because this twist in life wasn’t in the dream. It wasn’t part of the plan. But there is a perspective during those times that is critical for you and me to learn. We must consider the work of God. Here’s another biblical point of view, this time from the prophet Jeremiah in the book of Lamentations.
My soul has been rejected from peace; I have forgotten happiness. So I say, “My strength has perished, and so has my hope from the LORD.” Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. — Lamentations 3:17-20
Those are the words of a man who was feeling the full weight of adversity. He had hit rock bottom. Maybe you are there too. If you aren’t, then someday you might be. It’s important you consider the work of God and try to understand His mysterious ways. He oversees your adversity, your affliction, and your wandering.
The writer of Lamentations was Jeremiah, the prophet to Israel during one of her darkest periods of rebellion. They called him the weeping prophet because he was maligned, ignored, marginalized, and rejected, all because he obeyed the Lord. And so at one of the lowest points in his ministry, he wrote Lamentations. And confessed he was as down as he could be.
Until… he considered the work of God. He brought to mind the truths of who God is and how He works. Maybe he read the Scriptures. Perhaps he had memorized something from the Law of Moses. Whatever he did to remind him of the Lord’s character turned him from despair to hope. Lamentations 3:21–26 says,
This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul.
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.
It is good that he waits silently
For the salvation of the LORD.
In the middle of adversity, learn to think about the work of God — to consider and reflect on His Word, to acknowledge He is at work. To remember that He has a plan. To trust that He is worth waiting on and pursuing, especially in the wilderness.
When was the last time you fell on your face and called on the Lord, asking Him to give you faith to trust His purpose and plan, to seek His wisdom and gain a perspective on your circumstances that only He could provide? That’s what it means to wait on Him. That’s what it means to consider the work of God. When Jeremiah did that, though in absolute despair, he went from wallowing in sadness to feeling a sense of genuine hope.
In the wilderness of despair, I need fresh truth. When I start thinking correctly, I’m going to get my hope back. Jeremiah reflected on the lovingkindness and mercies of the Lord, and it brought him hope. God knows the pressure you’re under. In fact, in Lamentations 3:37, Jeremiah declared the Lord has actually ordained it for you:
Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?
Whatever you are facing in the wilderness, it could not be in your life unless God was in charge. You don’t know what God has planned. All you and I see is the storm. But you can remember that God has a plan and He is in complete charge.
Can you trust God with your life today, no matter how harsh the wilderness you face? Do you believe He will send you manna for your wilderness? Can you resist the urge with everything in you to take matters into your own hands and instead throw yourself on the mercy of the living God? He will send a well-timed help even though you can’t see His manna yet. Can you believe that one day you will look back at this time right now and see the goodness of God?
I have always appreciated the alternative translation of Psalm 46:1 that can be found in the margin of the New American Standard Bible. It reads,
God is our refuge and strength, He is abundantly available for help in tight places.
You may find yourself right now in a tight place. He’s not just available to help you — He is abundantly available. Jesus is the Bread of Life. He’s the true manna. He is God. And He knows how desperate you are for a well-timed help.
Consider the work of God. Help is on the way.
Excerpted with permission from Manna: When You’re Out of Options, God Will Provide by Steve Farrar, copyright Steve Farrar.
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Are you sick with worry today? Confused by what God has allowed in your life or the lives of loved ones? Consider the work of God, His whole work not just this season. Wait on Him. Fall on your face and call on the Lord, asking Him to give you faith to trust His purpose and plan, to seek His wisdom and gain a perspective on your circumstances that only He can possibly provide. Come join the conversation on our blog. We would love to hear from you about trusting God. ~ Devotionals Daily