My dear friend, I’m so glad you wrote to pour your heart out in grief and sorrow, and to ask for help to wait on the Lord.
There are two ways to respond to God in the midst of life’s trials. We can be like the Israelites who, after being freed from slavery in Egypt, found themselves hungry and thirsty in a vast wilderness with no hope for food or water. Or we can follow the example of David as he ran for his life in the wilderness, likely from his own son, Absalom, who was scheming to steal his throne and kingdom. Both responses poured forth from lips of people in dire peril; both were cries from within the wilderness. But there the similarities end.
Listen to the Israelites:
And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:2-3)
This was but one of many occasions for complaining — and an understandable, even justifiable response. But it was not their only option.
Listen to David’s cry:
O God, you are my God; I shall seek you earnestly;
My soul thirsts for you, my flesh yearns for you,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Thus I have seen you in the sanctuary,
To see your power and your glory.
Because your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands in your name. (Psalm 63:1-4)
What made the difference between the complaint-filled Israelites and the praise-filled David? David’s focus was on God’s lovingkindness that remained unchanged regardless of David’s circumstances.
His was no teeth-gritting holding pattern till the worst of it was over. A few verses later he says, “for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy” (63:7). The ESV Study Bible says the phrase “The shadow of your wings” “always refers to a place of safety. David was in real danger — he needed safety. But what did David do there in the shadow of God’s wings? It doesn’t say “in the shadow of your wings I will hide from danger, or cry for relief, or cower in fear,” but “in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.” In the midst of life-threatening danger, David sang for joy.
Even a secure hiding place isn’t enough to prompt joyful singing. The NORAD bunker deep in Colorado’s Cheyenne Mountain is secure against nuclear attack, but I doubt it elicits songs of joy from its occupants. David shows the absence of fear and the presence of joy. Singing for joy can only happen when the heart is at rest, fully confident in the love of the Father who “works all things together for the good of those who love him, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
What is the shelter you are seeking? Sponsorship for college (what we would call a scholarship or grant) may be a wonderful opportunity, but in itself, it will not satisfy your deep longings.
God’s Word is true and trustworthy — it is not a life without trouble that gives rise to joy, but the Lord’s presence. The Bible doesn’t gloss over how hard life will be. “In the world you will have tribulation,” Jesus said (John 16:33). God has not left us wondering why things are so difficult here: work, relationships, childbearing, eating, living, all of it is affected by the curse for sin (Genesis 3). But Jesus completes John 16:33 by saying, “Take heart, I have overcome the world.” Futility in this world is not mean to lead us to despair, but hope (Romans 9:20-21).
The cross of Christ is our hope, because it is there that he paid the penalty we owe, suffering the punishment we deserve, so that we might be declared righteous. The cross is the evidence you seek that God has not forgotten you, and that He loves you. Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
Forgiveness of our sins provides tangible comfort in this life, and for all eternity. This is real comfort that saves us from the hell we deserve (Romans 6:23) for the guilt of our sin. Peace with God is our greatest need, and He has made a way for us to be reconciled to Him.
I don’t know of a secret source for college loans or a positive thought that will open the doors you want to walk through. But there are practical steps you can and should take to pursue faithfulness and fruitfulness in your studies and work. You should work diligently today with whatever work God has given you, striving to be faithful so that He may entrust you with more. Seek the counsel of older believing Christians. Ask them how you might grow in maturity and expand your opportunities for education and vocation. The place to do this is in a faithful local church. It is there that you can hear the Word preached weekly so that you can grow in understanding of God’s revelation to us. You are right to pray. May the Lord reveal himself. He is
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
Copyright Candice Watters 2015. All rights reserved.