Delayed by Design

Delayed by Design

“Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?  Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” – Psalm 77:7-9

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” – 1 Corinthians 2:9

Last weekend, my siblings and I hosted a surprise 90th birthday party for my mother.  I spoke with her four days after the party and she was still on cloud nine.  Surprise birthday parties in and of themselves are not all that unusual, but this one certainly was.  Folks are living longer these days, so the fact that this was a party to celebrate a 90th birthday was not what made it so unusual.  What made this party unique is it was held in June, but my mother’s birthday was actually in February.  Lest you think my siblings and were negligent in our planning and could not get our collective acts together in time to have a party closer to my mother’s actual birthday, you’d be wrong.  The delay in the date of the party was actually by design.  If fact we had the venue for my mother’s party booked the previous July, well in advance of her actual birthday.

We knew we’d be inviting out of town guests, and inclement weather in Pennsylvania during February is a real possibility.  The wisdom of our decision was borne out as a freak snow storm last Halloween interfered with my attending my uncle’s 90th birthday party in Maryland.  Other elements of the party were also carefully planned including the guests list, meals, music, photography, and the pretense under which to get my mother to the venue in the first place.  (I told her I was being honored at a banquet along with some other men from my church.)  My mother remarked to one of my sisters a few days after the party, “when I think of all of the planning you kids must have done to pull this off, I get a headache!”

My mom was overjoyed in June, and although she indicates she wasn’t, she could have been a little disappointed in February on her actual birthday.  We did not ignore the passing of her actual birthday, but neither did we recognize it with extraordinary fanfare either.  Just months earlier, she had seen her nieces and a nephew host surprise birthdays for both her sister-in-law and brother-in-law.  Although she would never say it, she could have thought that we her children had forgotten about her, at the very time that plans were being made to do something very special to recognize her.

Dear Christian, do you sometimes feel as if your heavenly father has forgotten about you?  Do empathize with the Psalmist, “will the Lord reject forever?”  As difficult as it can be to keep the faith during our dismal Februarys, we must remember that a June is coming.  God has not forgotten about us during our winters of discontent, but rather he is carefully and providentially working things out for our good and his glory.  These two outcomes are never in conflict in the life of a believer.  After first being sold into slavery and then languishing in an Egyptian prison, Joseph had no idea that he would one day become the prime minister of his Egypt, saving his family from starvation.  David while tending his father Jesse’s sheep, could not even image that he would one day become the king of Israel.  We serve a God who able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20).  Only God knows the wonderful plans he has in store for the one whose will is surrendered and whose heart is yielded to him.

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