The other day, I was binging on all things Netflix including Friends. But because I know Matthew Perry’s lines better than him, my mind started to wander to other light-hearted and hilarious things. You know – like the future. Oh wait. Wrong H word. Hellish. I meant hellish things. Health. Student Loans. Children. Career Goals. Writing. Ministry. And I started to get a little angry.
Sometimes I feel like Patrick and I are at a standstill. We strive to be good and conscious stewards of our time and money, and yet I feel that our student loans will never ever go away. Ever. I worry that we sometimes fail to pour energy and love into things we care about most because there’s just no time for it. It feels like every person around us keeps gaining ground and moving into bigger and better things. Literally. Patrick and I live in an adorable shoebox. Our apartment is the perfect size for us, but when will get our own house? When will we find ourselves at a place where we can settle into a home and afford to have a family?
Since Patrick is a pastor, a lot of his time and mine is spent pouring into other people and investing in relationships. I love it. I love surrounding myself with the body of Christ and people who believe as we do. But there are days when I feel that we are inadequate. I worry that we aren’t doing enough or that we aren’t making a dent in the kingdom of Heaven.
So last night, while canned laughter hummed from the television, I began to pray. I didn’t even move. I just stayed sprawled out on the bed with my eyes open, staring at the ceiling. I was blunt; reverent, but still blunt. God, what are we doing? I feel like we work so hard. We work just as hard as everybody else and our lives are just the same as they were two years ago. When is our time? A fleeting thought came to mind: What have you read lately? What does the Bible say?
I am definitely not a believer in opening the Bible at random and picking the first verse I see. While I believe that God can use this as a venue to speak to us, I don’t believe it necessarily happens every time. And when you fail to read the Bible in context, you can go down an extremely dangerous path by choosing for yourself how to interpret what you’re reading.
Since I’m a procrastinator I told myself I could look at scripture later. But then Isaiah 49 came to mind immediately, which was really strange because no specific verses popped in my head. So I pulled out my Bible app like a cliché millennial and began reading.
Isaiah 49 (NIV) is titled The Servant of the Lord. Coincidence? I think not.
1Listen to me, you islands;
hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the Lord called me;
from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.
2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me into a polished arrow
and concealed me in his quiver.
3 He said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”
4 But I said, “I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing at all.
Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand,
and my reward is with my God.”
5 And now the Lord says—
he who formed me in the womb to be his servant
to bring Jacob back to him
and gather Israel to himself,
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord
and my God has been my strength—
6 he says:
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
7 This is what the Lord says—
the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel—
to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation,
to the servant of rulers:
“Kings will see you and stand up,
princes will see and bow down,
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
Isaiah shared these words with the Israelites who felt forsaken and deserted by their God. And while I have (fortunately) never felt forsaken by Him, I sometimes feel discouraged. Particularly in recent months, I have felt left behind. While others are picking out paint colors for nurseries and basking in the glory of perfect jobs, I have wondered why we’re stagnant. (Why am I not at least getting paid to watch Netflix? Honestly.) Have we not been faithful? Have we not prayed enough?
This passage gave me hope. We have a greater purpose than we can see. He has a plan and He will provide. While we can’t always see it, our faithfulness to do as God calls us is making a difference. We are a stronger couple than we were two years ago. The God who formed us in our mothers’ wombs, who knows every hair on our head, will never forsake us. He will never leave us behind. We are always resting in the palm of His hand, and that is where I find my peace.