Freedom Friday: When God Isn’t Showing Up

I’ve been working on a post on contentment for…well, months. Maybe longer. That was my plan for today. Finish it up and share it with you all.

But I just can’t. I can’t. My heart is heavy. A good acquaintance of mine is going through an unthinkable tragedy. After a long & excruciatingly difficult trial, the unimaginable has happened.

They did not receive the answer they were looking for. Their family is being torn apart, and the end is not in sight.

God isn’t showing up as they had hoped.

This family has been on my heart since I received the news last night. Not only is my youngest sick (and he woke numerous times last night), even when I tried to sleep, I could not get this family out of my head.

I could do nothing but pray. Pray for peace. Pray for encouragement. Pray for protection.

As I ran this morning, I asked God to help me with my writing today. I was trying to wrap up the contentment post in my mind.

I just could. not. focus.

I couldn’t stop thinking of my friends.

I came home, showered, and realized my youngest was awake. Again. As I laid down next to him in hopes of getting him back to sleep, I read my psalm for today on my phone.

Psalm 77
New Living Translation (NLT)

For Jeduthun, the choir director: A psalm of Asaph.

1 I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me!
2 When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord.
All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
but my soul was not comforted.
3 I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help.

We’ve all been there. When we’ve asked for God’s help so many times that the thought of one more prayer literally has us moaning and overwhelmed. The times when comfort is nowhere to be found, and it seems even God is nowhere to be found.

The Psalmist continues:

4 You don’t let me sleep. I am too distressed even to pray!
5 I think of the good old days, long since ended,
6 when my nights were filled with joyful songs.
I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
7 Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me?
8 Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion?

I imagine this friend of mine, thinking back to the days when her family was together and full of life and peace. What happened to those days? Where are those songs of joy? Will they ever come again? Where’s God’s kindness, His grace, His faithfulness? Where is His compassion and love?

Where is God? Why isn’t He showing up?

10 And I said, “This is my fate;
the Most High has turned his hand against me.”

There have been times I myself have wrongly come to this conclusion.

I remember an excruciatingly challenging time about 8 years ago. My world, and my faith, had been turned upside down. I no longer knew what I believed or why. Add to that I was dealing with chronic illness, clinical depression (that could not be medicated, as the medication exacerbated my chronic illness), and my husband and I were both unemployed.

My experiences were not lining up with my theology, and it was seriously messing with me.

One example of this happened when I realized I was being overcharged for car insurance, going on 5 years. Rectifying this was not an easy process, as the reason I was overcharged in the first place was the state I received my license in and the state I lived after did not communicate with each other, and would not easily communicate with the state I currently lived in.

From my perspective, God could be helping me with this. He could be making it all happen more smoothly. Didn’t He know I needed that money, and I needed it now, not whenever He decided to notice my needs and finally help me out?

I was faced with a challenge that faces all of us: if our experience does not match our theology, if our feelings do not line up with the truth of Scripture, whom or what will we trust?

The Psalmist continues:

11 But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
12 They are constantly in my thoughts.
I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.

13 O God, your ways are holy.
Is there any god as mighty as you?
14 You are the God of great wonders!
You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.
15 By your strong arm, you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.

Please do read the rest of the psalm here.

So what can we do when God is not showing up?

1. Ask people to pray for you. This needs to be the first step. Tell your friends what’s going on, and ask them to hold out hope for you, even when you, like the Psalmist, feel as if God’s promises have failed you. We need the support, both in tangible help & prayer. We need friends like the paralytic man had; he was healed because of their faith.

2. Be honest with God. Tell Him exactly how you feel, even if it isn’t pretty. None of it will surprise Him. He knows your thoughts even if you don’t tell Him.

3. Think about what God has done in the past. Reflect on what He has done rather than what He hasn’t.

4. Ponder who God is, what you know of His character. Memorize Scriptures about His nature. Contemplate the many facets of His being, and declare them to be true. I even challenge you to try doing this out loud. Words have power.

5. Cultivate hope. I talked about hope last week, that it is a choice. It can also be learned, even in the most tragic situations.

My reimbursement check from the insurance company did show up, and it was far more than I thought it would be. It also took far longer than I wanted, but in that time, God allowed me to see that I needed to work on my relationship with Him, who I thought He was, based on my reaction (my core beliefs were that He was unkind, uncaring and unconcerned with my needs).

Jesus did not ever promise an easy life, unfortunately. He did not promise that it would even go the way we hoped. What Jesus DID promise is that His grace is sufficient, that His promises really are true, and that His purposes will prevail.

Please pray for this family, that justice would roll like a river (Amos 5:24). And if you need prayer, comment on this post, and I and others will pray for you.

Freedom Friday: Stepping Into Your Jordan

“Into the Wild” is a biographical sketch of the story of Christopher McCandless as written by Jon Krakauer.

In 1990, Christopher McCandless, a young man in his 20’s, set out on a cross-country journey to experience life in the wilderness. After 2 years on the road, McCandless crossed a stream in a remote area of Alaska and ended up living in an abandoned bus he came across. He stays there for a few months, but he soon tires of gathering his own food and of the harsh reality of living alone in the wild.

When McCandless seeks to return from the wild to his friends and family, he finds that the stream which he crossed in the snow has become wide, deep, and violent due to the thaw, thus making it impossible to cross. In the film, it seems as if time stands still. McCandless stops there, perfectly silent, staring at the wild river that has now made him a prisoner of his choices.


I’m reading through the book of Joshua now. I just finished up Romans and have been working on a post about Joshua 6 (that will come later), and as I backtracked a little for context, I was reminded of the powerful story of faith contained in the book of Joshua.

Right before beginning Joshua, I was listening to a podcast, where a Christian speaker emphasized that sometimes we need to step out. Thus, I looked up the story of Joshua crossing the Jordan in Joshua 3. A detail I never noticed before leapt out at me.

Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest.

You likely know the end of this story. The priests, walking in obedience to God’s command, stepped out into the flood waters. They carried the Ark of the Covenant, a sign of God’s presence and His promises, with them. The water piled up in a heap beside them, and there the priests stood, in the middle of the river on dry ground, waiting until all of Israel was safely on the other side.

But let’s back up a minute for context. Imagine that you are in the shoes of the Israelites. The two spies had just returned from Jericho with a favorable report: “The LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.” There was likely much celebration. After 40 years of their ancestors wandering in the wilderness, the Israelites would finally see the promised land.

Then early the next morning, the Israelites were instructed to pack up their things and move their camp to the banks of the Jordan River. For 3 days, they camped near the river’s edge. Imagine the spray from the flooded river, the violent water vigorously lapping the banks. They must have been thinking through all the possibilities of how they would get across as they stared at the obstacle that stood between them and their dreams of a better life.

There may have been some who remembered crossing the Red Sea, or at least heard the story from their elders. Could God do that again?

At the end of the third day, Joshua commands them, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” The anticipation builds. The next morning, everyone awakes and prepares to move forward. The people are directed to follow the Ark of the Covenant at a distance, while the priests were commanded: “When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.”

When the Red Sea parted, the waters had already parted prior to the Israelites stepping into the newly-created dry land. Why wasn’t God doing that again? Was He examining their hearts, as if to make sure they were really on board? The Israelites wandered in the wilderness because of their disobedience and hard hearts. Why was He requiring an extra act of faith on the part of the priests, that they should step directly into the flood waters they had been watching for 3 days? Was He in essence, saying, “This is it, guys. We’re almost there. Are you going to continue to choose to trust me and follow my commands?”

What is your Jordan?

What is the thing that is standing between you & your dreams, your freedom, the Promised Land that God is calling you to step into?

Are you standing on the banks of your Jordan, as Christopher McCandless did on that river’s edge in Alaska, overwhelmed by the cold spray on your face and the rushing waters at your feet? Are you staring at the river, your obstacle, positive that you, like him, are destined to be a prisoner of your past choices?

If you are a believer in and follower of Jesus Christ, you are no longer a prisoner of your past choices. The amazing thing about the God we serve is that He sets the captives free, He brings us from darkness into light. And if He is calling you to step out, He will make a way where there is no way.

Are you willing to trudge forward as the Israelites did, choosing to trust that God has gone ahead of you?

Do you need to just step out, trusting that God will make a way?

Exodus North Atlantic Regional Conference This Weekend!

If you follow my posts on the Exodus International Blog, you know that the Exodus North Atlantic Regional Conference is this weekend! In fact, my family & I will leave tomorrow to attend an evening music rehearsal. Pray for us! My kids don’t always love the car 🙂 I’ll be leading the music, as well as sharing a re-worked version of my testimony, entitled “What’s in a name?” I’m quite excited. I’ll definitely share the testimony either here or over at the Exodus International Blog – I’ll let you know 🙂

Hope to see you there!