For much of history people depended on the Lord somewhat more directly than we do now. They worked the fields, planted their crops, and waited for the Lord to provide the rains that would bring a harvest. Life became more complicated after the Industrial Revolution. Many individuals left their farms to live and work in urban areas. Thereafter the definition of success became more complicated, and the temptation was to believe that we no longer needed to depend on God.
It often seems there’s a correlation between how successful one is, now generally measured by monetary wealth, and the degree to which one seeks God. When things are going well and the money flows in, one might be tempted to see oneself as the master of his or her own destiny. Wealth often brings possessions, popularity, and prestige. The wealthy often ride high, live fast, and have many friends. The moment the wealth dries up, however, things quickly change. Those who’ve lost everything can tell you how fast their friends ran from them, and looking back how meaningless wealth had become. It’s often only at their lowest and loneliest moment that the formerly wealthy cry out to God. At that point the wisest among them find the true meaning of life. Psalm 49:16-20 reads:
Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases; for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them. Though while they live they count themselves blessed – and people praise you when you prosper – they will join those who have gone before them, who will never again see the light of life. People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish.
The truth is, success has very little to do with wealth. I suggest that our time on earth is intended to teach us how much we need God, and how much God loves us. Having been separated from God by sin, only those who see their need for salvation and who trust in Jesus will be reconciled to God. Those reconciled will enjoy eternity in God’s presence.
Viewed in this light, the trials, temptations, heartaches, and challenges we encounter in this life are intended to draw us closer to God, and to show us our need for him.
I recall a time in my life when I was all but broken. Faithful followers of Christ, our family came to a very difficult place financially. In addition, the role I had been working toward for years was suddenly closed to me by an individual after he learned that my wife and I were believers. Our children were both still very young and inexperienced in life, yet the Lord used my daughter in an amazing way. In her childlike way, she sensed my brokenness and wanted to comfort me. She approached me at a very low moment, and placed something she had made into my hand. I suspect that she and her brother may have worked on it together. I keep this today in the top draw of my desk, and look at it quite often. It’s pictured below.
There are few material things in my life today that I treasure more than this string of letters. Not only is it a reminder of my daughter and son’s love for me, but these four words are among the most profound and meaningful that one could ever learn. To me they represent life’s most important lesson.
Since the moment my daughter placed this into my hand, likely 26 years ago now, there’s been a number of challenging times during which I’ve had to reflect on it. In fact, I did so just this morning. My wife and I are facing some uncertainty at the moment. We need to trust the Lord to guide us through this time in the same way that we did years ago. I’m not at all sure how things will work out, yet I know deep within my soul that I can trust the Lord. He has never let us down, and I know he never will.
For what it’s worth, I wanted to share with you the message my daughter shared with me so many years ago. No matter what you’re facing, trust in the Lord. As those who trusted the Lord for rain after they faithfully planted their crops learned, the Lord will bring about a harvest in his good time. God’s timing may not line up with our expectations, and it may only be after this life that we see the real harvest, yet none who trust in God shall ever look back with regret for doing so.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock (Isaiah 26:3-4 ESV).