Be patient in the night of God’s seeming absence. Be patient in the night of God’s seeming absence.
“I waited patiently for the Lord” (Psalm 40:1).
Where? Where were you waiting, David?
“He drew me up … out of the miry bog” — out of the quicksand of my despair. He “set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to my God. Many will see and put their trust in the Lord” — which means evangelism (Psalm 40:2-3).
Fruitful evangelism resulted from a dark night of the soul.
Do you follow that sequence of thought?
“I waited in the mire.”
How long did he wait? He was patient. He was modest. He knew he couldn’t make joy happen.
“I waited, and God came to me.”
He had gutsy guilt.
While he was there, God lifted him up, put him on a rock, put a song in his mouth.
He started to celebrate the mercies of God, and people put their trust in the Lord.
One of the things the Lord is doing in the darkness of your life is fitting you to be able to bear more fruitful witness to his mercies when you come out.
I close with perhaps my favorite hymn. I have two or three, and it’s a word that I hope those of you who came hoping for light — and maybe it hasn’t gone on yet:
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform.
He plants his footsteps in the sea
and rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable minds
of never failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs
and works his sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take:
the clouds you so much dread
are big with mercy and shall break
in blessings on your head.
His purposes will ripen fast,
unfolding every hour;
the bud may have a bitter taste,
but sweet will be the flow’r.
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
and scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
and he will make it plain.
Be patient. Be modest in the dark as you fight for joy.
John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. He is author of more than 50 books, including “Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist” and most recently “Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship.”
A version of this article previously appeared on the Desiring God website under the headline “What to Do When God Feels Absent.”
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