What is God Doing in Perplexing Times?

Jan 22, 2021 | Perspectives

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For ten years, Hezekiah lived under the threat of the Assyrian empire threatening to pillage the southern tribes of Judah. I bet he wondered “what is God doing?”

Habakkuk watched his nation deteriorate into chaos—injustice, evil, idolatry, and violence prevailed. Early in his short message, he cries out to God, “O Lord, how long will I cry for help?” In other words, “God, what are you doing right now?”

For years Joseph was a slave in Egypt, and then unjustly imprisoned. I’m sure he wondered, “what is God doing right now?”

When Abraham left home not knowing where he was going, wouldn’t he have wondered, “what is God doing right now?”

Childless Hannah. Ark-building Noah. Fearful Gideon. Hiding David. With-child Mary. Imprisoned John the Baptist. Weeping Peter. Blinded Saul. Scattered 1st century believers. Beaten Paul and Silas. Exiled John. From the beginning of God’s story to right now, His people have always had reasons to ask, “What is God doing right now?”

And the answer is always a mix of “we know” but “we don’t know.” We don’t know the immediate future, or what the path ahead will hold. We do know God, and we know He holds the future and He ordains the path ahead. 

One of my favorite parenting thoughts goes something like this: Some parents spend their efforts preparing the path for their child. Successful parents focus instead on preparing their children for the path. (Unknown) In other words, some parents focus solely on removing obstacles but successful parents focus on building their children.

Fortunately, our heavenly Father does both! He knows the path ahead and has specifically prepared us for it—not to mention that He is shaping us with through it as well! He prepared you for the path. He is with you on the path. He knows the path. And He controls all of the outcomes of the path. This path—the one we are one right now—is His path. It may not be the path we hoped for, or the path we dream for, but it is the path He has ordained for us.

So, what is God doing? 

What do we know God is doing right now?

—He is doing good things personally and universally. His big plan for the ages is unfolding. But also, His personal plan for me and you are unfolding. We can trust that one day we will celebrate like Joseph, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” (see Genesis 50:20)

—He is glorifying Himself and His gospel. People all over the world, for the first time, are accepting the gospel and turning to Christ. More than we know, God is calling hearts to Himself. (And we get to play a small part in that as His followers!)

—He is caring for and building His people and His church. All over the world church families are growing deeper and stronger. This season, Jesus’ followers are learning to release their grip on the temporal and strengthen their grip on the eternal. In every way that our world grows darker, we are challenged to love eternity’s light even more. In every way that our temporary identities fail, we are called to immerse ourselves into our truest identity in Jesus. In every way that man-made systems fail, we strengthen our hope in a coming King and His eternal Kingdom.

—He is directing our steps day by day. I like to have a plan, but some trials show us that plans are all but impossible, and even burdensome. Sometimes God releases that burden by giving us seasons we can’t plan. These are day-by-day times, and in retrospect, we will see them as gifts from God. These are seasons when He essentially says, “You simply run your race today, and I’ll care for the future!” It’s kind of like being five-years-old all over again—it’s actually kind of fun once you get over the initial fear of trustand the struggle of surrendering to Him.

—He is giving us His presence and provision. Being forced to “be still” is a gift, unless we waste it by fearing how we will survive. Our restlessness and lack of stillness is usually bound to the fact that we are working hard to stay alive, to survive, to get ahead. But when God providentially steps in and slows us down, we can finally actually savor His presence and see His provision—we rediscover who He is and who we are, and this gives our souls deep release and rest. These are resetting, recalibrating times with God. What stories of God’s amazing grace and provision that we have to tell when we come through hard seasons.

—He is strengthening relationships and families. Perplexing times remind us that our busyness is not as valuable or significant as our relationships. Who we are is more important than what we do. God’s priority is always the people He has placed into our lives, and how well we love them.

—He is doing things in your life that only you are aware of. This is where my list becomes your “homework assignment.” Finish the list. What has God done in your life this past year? How had He come to you and revealed His hand in your life? What is He showing you? How has He guided you? How has He driven you deeper in faith and in Jesus?

We are all writing a story right now. For years to come, we will tell that story! Let’s make it one of faithdevotionfaithfulness, and endurance.

“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”—Psalm 27.14


CARY SCHMIDT serves as the Senior Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Newington, CT. He and his wife Dana have been blessed with three children, three grandchildren, and have enjoyed thirty years of marriage and ministry together. Cary’s passion is to love God, love his family and church family, develop spiritual leaders, and point people to Jesus Christ — through teaching, preaching, and writing. He has authored more than a dozen books and hosts the Leading in the Gospel podcast. You can connect with Cary at www.caryschmidt.com.

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