The promise in a pause

By B.J. Funk

Looking out of my living room window this morning, while winter’s season is in charge, I could be disheartened if I did not know about the next season.

Spring will come, and with it I will have beautiful color in my yard and pleasant smells that cannot be manufactured anywhere but in God’s perfume shop. If I thought this season of winter was all there is, I would likely cut down the crepe myrtles that appear lonely and dead. Though I cannot see it, I know my trees and plants hold a secret, the secret of a new season. My yard is experiencing a pause. There is, however, the hidden, yet marvelous assurance of a promise in a pause.

Are you living inside of a pause right now? Perhaps you have been diagnosed  with a critical illness, or your spouse has decided he/she loves another. In the midst of the severe pain of illness or uncertainties, we can be encouraged by the promises that lie within our pauses. Another season is on its way. Things will not always be as they appear now. Corrie Ten Boom, whose story of protecting the Jews during World War II continues to be an inspiration, said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

You have likely heard the statement, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” He has his own plans and they are far better than ours. His plans don’t always come on a carpet of sweet-smelling roses. Sometimes, God’s plans are mailed in black envelopes. If we accept his plan, move with him into that plan, and put our faith in him, we will one day see that his thoughts, which are not anywhere near our thoughts, are always best. The tears we shed when we open that black envelope are cushioned inside by a bouquet of loveliness, not visible to us yet. Even though the envelope carries pain, we would never know the sweet smell of this bouquet had we not accepted his plan. That does not negate the hurt of experiencing a loved one’s death, or watching a child lose a struggle to drugs. There is a seed in your pain, and when we hand the pain to God, the seed blooms.

Hannah Whitall Smith’s book, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, includes a chapter I have always had a hard time accepting. She explains that nothing can touch us except the Lord allow it. I have battled that statement for thirty years, and I am just now beginning to inch my way into accepting it. Her statement does not mean that I deserve what happens to me or that what happens is good. In acknowledging the all-knowing nature of God, she clarifies the Romans 8:28 verse that claims, “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” God can turn every circumstance around for our long-range good. In other words, there is a promise in every pause that touches our lives.

Henry Ward Beecher said, “Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.”

Paul wrote Ephesians while he was under house arrest in Rome. He might have started this letter like this: “My imprisonment has hampered my witness. I have no idea why God is treating me this way.” Instead he writes, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

Paul did not ask the Ephesians to pray that his chains would be removed. He called himself “an ambassador in chains,” and asked for prayer that he could speak fearlessly even in prison. Though Paul had not planned for this pause in his ministry, he knew that God would use this time for good.

A friend gave me a profound thought recently. In questioning why God gave her a son who caused her heart to break, she asked God, “Why?” He responded, “Because I knew you would never give up on him.”

Before his conversion St.Augustine lived a wayward life, abandoning all of the teachings of his mother. She persisted in prayer and sought the counsel of a holy bishop who said to her, “The child of those tears shall never perish.” She prayed faithfully for seventeen years. Her story is a powerful one of holding on to the promise even in the pauses of her son’s life.

Are you in a pause? With eyes of faith, hold on to the promise, not the pause, and trust God for the next season.