If you have ever followed a Bible reading plan for an extended amount of time, then you know that there are days (even weeks and months) where it just feels like you are going through the motions, checking off your assigned reading in the Bible, and not ‘getting much out of it’ (I put that in quotes because that is actually never the case, we always benefit from reading the Word). I have had plenty of those times. Yet, there are other times when the Providence of God is so obvious its as if He planned all of history for you to read that passage that day. This happened to me yesterday.
A little background will help. Many of you know that my wife and I are in the middle of adopting our second child. As is common with adoption, we have faced several obstacles along the way. I won’t go into the details, but yesterday was supposed to be an important day in the process (for the record, not much really happened, which unfortunately happens all of the time). Needless to say, I woke up a bit anxious about how the day would go. I brought all that with me as I sat down with my cup of coffee to read the passages from my Bible reading plan for the day (I am using the ‘5 Day plan’).
Three passages were on the schedule: Ezekiel 34-36, John 12, and Pslam 86.
Ezekiel 36: I began with Ezekiel, which I have to admit is not always easy reading (he is not afraid to leave you disgusted with his picture of sin and rebellion). At the end of this passage, beginning in 36:16, the Lord began to speak with me about my current situation. He reminded me of His passion for the glory of His name. He says to Israel through the prophet:
“It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name…” (v. 22)
We have been praying that the Lord would be glorified through our adoption situation (particularly in light of 1 Corinthians 10, which I preached this past Sunday). He reminded me that He would glorify His Name through Ezekiel 36.
John 12: Next I read from the Gospel of John. Jesus says to His disciples in John 12:
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” (v. 27-28)
Jesus died for the glory of the Father. He died to justly justify a people for the praise of His great Name. The Father is glorified through the death of the Son and the redemption of a Bride. And He will be glorfied in my current situation. It may not play out like I want it to, but I can trust that no matter what, His glory will be known.
Psalm 86: Finally I read from Psalm 86. Although I was encouraged by the reminders that God was working everything for His glory, I was still struggling with the day ahead. If I am honest, I was still struggling to know that God is not just there, not just existing, not just watching from a distance (no matter what Bette Midler sang), but that He loves me and knows me and hears me when I cry to Him. And the psalmist writes:
“Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy…Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.” (v. 1-7)
Apparently I am not the first to feel overwhelmed by my troubles. Apparently the Lord has made a practice of hearing the cries of His people, those who plead: “Show me a sign of your favor…” (v. 17).
The Lord speaks to us everytime we read His Word. He is never silent, even when we aren’t listening. But sometimes, through His providence and grace, in His sovereign goodness, He meets with me in a very real and practical way when I open His Word. He meets with me as a loving, kind Father, reminding me that I am never forgotten or forsaken and that all my difficult circumstances will result in His praise. And for a moment I can hear His voice above the wind and the rain whispering: “Peace, be still.” It is not necessarily like this all the time, but sometimes it is. And we should be thankful. Thankful for His Word. And thankful that He meets with us through it.