Wednesday, January 27, 2016

When A Yes Feels For A While Like a No


I’m dealing with something right now that brings to mind a lesson I’ve learned many times over the years: sometimes a “Yes” from the Lord seems for a while a lot more like a “No.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prayed and prayed for something—even something I’ve been prompted to pray for—and the Spirit whispers yes, but the circumstances of my life continue to flash a bright, neon-green no. It’s taken me a long time to understand that, when it comes to my walk with Christ, things are not always as they may appear. It may be that He’s up to something I can’t see, or that the timing isn’t quite right, so I simply need to be patient. Or it may be that things need to unfold in a way that I don’t yet comprehend. So in those moments when I feel forsaken, instead of giving in to discouragement, I’ve learned that I need to lean even harder on the Lord and pray for the ability to trust Him, even though it may for a time seem like He isn’t doing anything at all.

The perfect example of this is the story of Nephi's journey to get the brass plates in the Book of Mormon. In the beginning, Lehi tells him: “Therefore go, my son, and thou shalt be favored of the Lord, because thou hast not murmured” (1 Nephi 3:6). The Lord’s will is clear: Nephi is promised favor, which is a word that means assistance, support, blessing, and even grace. But then he gets to Jerusalem and his whole world seems to crash and burn around him. First Laman tries to get the plates and ends up running for his life. Then the brothers take their riches to trade, but they too end up fleeing from Laban’s servants. If we didn’t know the end of the story, it would be easy to think, “Where in the world was the Lord in all of this? Why did He forsake Nephi? Why hasn’t the young prophet found the success that he was promised?”

I’ll admit that several years ago, I struggled for a time with those very same questions. I was going through something that looked a lot like Nephi’s story, and like him, I hadn’t yet reached my happy ending. As I read through the account, it seemed to me like the Lord really did forsake Nephi during those first two attempts, which made me wonder if He’d forsaken me as well. But after a great deal of prayer and pondering, it finally dawned on me that Nephi had to go through those first two failed attempts so when he was asked to kill Laban, he’d realize that there was no other choice. The Lord allowed him to experience the first two failures so he’d understand that slaying Laban was the only way. Christ didn’t forsake Nephi at any point in the story—He was with Him the entire time. And it gave me great peace to know that I too could move forward with trust my Savior and know that, somehow, someway, my story would also lead to a powerful end.

It reminds me of the lyrics to the song “Before the Morning” by Christian artist Josh Wilson. In the song, he makes the same point—that even if we can’t see what the Lord is up to, if we trust Him, something good will always come of it in the end. I offer them in the hopes that they’ll touch someone else’s heart the way that they’ve touched mine:

Do you wonder why you have to feel the things that hurt you?
If there's a God who loves you where is He now?
Or maybe there are things you can't see
And all those things are happening to bring a better ending
Someday, somehow you'll see, you'll see

Would you dare, would you dare to believe
That you still have a reason to sing?
'Cause the pain that you've been feeling
It can't compare to the joy that's coming

So hold on, you gotta wait for the light
Press on and just fight the good fight
'Cause the pain that you've been feeling
It's just the dark before the morning

My friend, you know how this all ends
And you know where you're going
You just don't know how you'll get there so say a prayer

And hold on 'cause there's good for those who love God
But life is not a snapshot, it might take a little time
But you'll see the bigger picture

Would you dare, would you dare to believe
That you still have a reason to sing?
'Cause the pain that you've been feeling
It can't compare to the joy that's coming

So hold on, you gotta wait for the light
Press on and just fight the good fight
'Cause the pain that you've been feeling
It’s just the dark before the morning

No comments:

Post a Comment