Pushing on the Stubborn Rock of Affliction

Bible Reading: Isaiah 18; 19; 20:1-6; 30; 31

I wrote this several years ago when we were going through another long period of unemployment. It shows a progression of thought that can be applied to other long-standing prayers that God seems to be ignoring....

This morning, I felt like I was losing my grasp on this unemployment trial. I could relate to the Egyptians, whose plans had also dried up: my heart was melting within me; I was groaning and lamenting, pining away and losing hope; I felt dejected and sick at heart (19:1-15). Nothing we're doing seems to get us any closer to finding a job. My insecurity about that is affecting so many other areas of my life. Every day, we P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens) on this "rock" of unemployment, but the rock won't budge, not even an inch. Instead of pushing, I just feel like giving up and collapsing in exhaustion next to the rock. Why do we have to keep repeating this trial? Why won't God provide a permanent, stable job? How long must we wait?

"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.... The Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!" (30:15,18).

I have been soaking in repentance, rest, quietness and trust this year. God has been gracious and shown compassion. I even feel blessed as I continue to wait on him. But why does he ignore this one request? This morning, I felt anxiety at his silence. Throughout the process of this day, however, God has revealed his goodness and compassion to me in many other ways. He has defended my mind from Satan's attacks and rescued me from my self-pity (19:20). Tonight, I continue to wait, but now his peace fills my heart. Once again, I feel strong and secure as I come back and quietly trust in him.

"You will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you" (30:19).

My response this morning was "Yea right!! Does that mean that he can't hear me, or what? Why doesn't he answer me? What's this 'as soon as he hears' stuff... try days, weeks, months, years after he hears.... Will he ever answer?" Tonight, my response is this: "Amazing! He did respond instantly to my cries. He still didn't send the answer I'm waiting for, but he did respond to my cries with graciousness. He calmed my anxious heart and reassured me of his love."

"Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, he himself will be there to teach you, and you will not have to search for him any more" (30:20 NIV/TEV).

I've had a steady diet of "bread and water" lately, but God is teaching me so much through it and his presence is very real and near to me.

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it" (30:21).

My response this morning: "I hear the voice behind me that confirms I'm walking in the right direction, but is it a road to nowhere? Why can't we walk down the path to gainful employment and stability? Someday the rock has to move, doesn't it? We all need money to live on. Secure employment is an honorable desire, isn't it? Even if the rock would budge an inch, I would have hope. Instead, I'm grasping at small meaningless things. I'm starting to feel desperate and hopeless. The light at the end of the tunnel is growing dim."

Tonight, with the voice ("This is the way...") comes a peace that God is in control. That is really all I need to know. As long as I follow the voice, I don't need to know where the road leads. It's enough to know that God is walking with me, carrying me at times, and talking with me throughout the journey. He doesn't light the end of my path, but he shines a flashlight at my feet, lighting each step. He even plants flowers along the way so I can smell his sweet fragrance. "When we obey him, every path he guides us on is fragrant with his loving-kindness and his truth" (Ps. 25:10 LB).

"Then you will destroy all your silver idols and gold images. You will throw them out like filthy rags. 'Ugh!' you will say to them. 'Begone!'" (30:22 NLT).

My "silver idols and gold images" are my wrong thoughts and attitudes that I have accepted and rationalized for so long. I need to throw out my negative attitude like a filthy rag and say, "Ugh! Away with you!" (NLT/NIV).

While I wait for the Lord to remove the rock of my affliction that I am unable to budge, he is steadily breaking apart a different barrier - that of my anger and resistance toward him. As I P.U.S.H. against my unmovable rock, God is strengthening my endurance, giving me victory over the Great Deceiver, binding up my bruises, healing my wounds, refreshing my spirit, and brightly shining the light of hope onto my life (30:25-26). "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him" (Ps. 62:5). "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God" (Ps. 42:11).