Learning God’s Faithfulness Through the Rhythms of Life
Rhythms. Seasons of life. Have you ever noticed how God takes you through hard times, then easier ones, then hard, then easy?
My wife and I had it relatively easy through the COVID lockdown. Lonely? Sure. Bored? Absolutely! Annoyed at not being able to travel and visit people? Yes, definitely. But we and our adult children kept our jobs, as did their spouses, and we were all spared the sickness. So we’ve come through okay, at least so far.
Then six weeks ago my long-term foot injuries flared up. No, that’s putting it too lightly. For a couple days it hurt so bad I was panting in pain. I rushed my wife home early from an ice cream date one night so I could take pain medication; then on the way home I remembered I’d already taken it. I was on crutches for a week, in a boot for three weeks, and I’m still using a brace on that foot.
It Comes in Waves
So much for our easy time. Hard stuff seems to come in waves, though. Last week my wife and I were with our daughter, Lisa, the day her home purchase fell through. Two hours before closing she learned one of the persons handling the transaction had screwed up the paperwork, and there was no legal way to finish it.
It was hopeless, they said. She, her infant son, and their German Shepherd would be literally homeless in a market where even rentals are almost impossible to come by. Her Army husband is due home from a very long and hard deployment sometime in the next month or two. She wanted him coming home to a … home. It turned into a nightmare instead, for about 48 hours.
(Being there with her is the reason I’ve been quiet here at The Stream, by the way. I never give advance public notice that my wife and I are going to be away.)
We had nothing to hold on to but God’s faithfulness. He proved Himself, first by giving us a comfortable and surprisingly affordable bed and breakfast to stay in for three nights, and then by rescuing the sale for her in the end. She and our grandson and grand-dog finally moved in, five days late.
God is Teaching Us
I was thinking of Psalm 30:5 as I was writing this: “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” That’s a rhythm statement. I looked it up, and found I’d forgotten the other rhythm statement the verse begins with: “[God’s] anger is but for a moment, and His favor is for a lifetime.”
From a New Testament perspective we know that His “anger” is a matter of loving discipline (see Hebrews 12:3-11). He’s training us. Just as in schools our kids go to, we are in session more than we’re on vacation. God has His own curriculum for us. He knows when we need a break, and He provides it at the right time — not to be confused with the time we think is right. It may be months later than we think that, but that’s part of the training, too.
We know by faith that God is building us. Still I can see why the psalmist would see it as God’s “anger.” Last week it really looked as if God had abandoned my daughter. Looked as if, I emphasize. That’s walking by sight, not by faith, flipping 2 Corinthians 5:7 on its head; but sight is a powerful thing, and by all appearances it was hopeless.
This is nothing but life as we all live it: easy seasons, hard seasons, easy and hard, undulating back and forth, as God runs His rhythm for us of training and rest, training and rest.
Real Rest is Coming
Finally, in the end, there is rest, for those who trust God. That brings up the other hard hit we’ve taken this month: My 97-year-old dad has finally gone into hospice. We’ve begun the grieving process; he’s begun the process of moving to the rest that won’t end.
His life now looks even more hopeless than Lisa’s home purchase, but we know God will come through with something far, far greater, and that it will last forever. It won’t be the least bit lonely, boring, or annoying, as Sara’s and my COVID lockdown days were.
Dad has lived through many decades God’s rhythms of learning and rest. He’s in his final season of trial and learning. Someday you and I will be, too; or it could be that we’re in our final days even today. Only God knows when His curriculum for us will be complete.
I certainly don’t know which part of the rhythm you’re experiencing today. All I know is that as you trust God through Christ, He will bring you seasons of rest in His rhythm. And that the last season — the one my dad is about to enter — is going to be great. There will be rhythms in heaven, but they’ll be the rhythms of songs of praise to God on high.
Tom Gilson (@TomGilsonAuthor) is a senior editor with The Stream and the author or editor of six books, including the recently released Too Good To Be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.