This post began with a simple observation from the other day: Goliath came to harass the Israelites every day for 40 days before David took his stand and defeated his enemy in one fell swoop, and the more I thought about it, I could see this 40 day testing and trying period occur over and over again throughout the Old and New Testament. For instance:
–Jesus was tempted and tested the desert for 40 days in preparation for his earthly ministry (Luke 4:1-12)
–Moses spent 40 days and 40 nights up on Mt. Sinai with his second set of stone tablets while God explained to him exactly what he wanted for his people (Exodus 34: 28)
-It rained 40 days and 40 nights on Noah and his family while they were ensconced in dark, giant watercraft, waiting for the the annihilation of every living creature to come to completion (Genesis 7:12)
–Elijah (I Kings 19: 8-9) had just had some very risky interactions with King Ahab and his prophets, basically he had challenged them to a my God vs. your god contest and once winning, took these false prophets and killed them. King Ahab told Jezebel everything that had transpired and Jezebel threatened Elijah’s life. Elijah was scared, so he ran: fast and far–and was exhausted. The angel of the Lord came to him and refreshed him, gave him something to eat and drink and then he traveled 40 days and nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he stayed in a cave and spent the night. Then, comes one of the most powerful accounts in the O.T., God reassured Elijah of His presence. God was not in the wind, he was not in the earthquake, not in the fire, but in a gentle whisper. And then a commission: to assign a predecessor.
These individuals were in the middle of the desert, floating on a watery grave, exhausted, spent, hungry, frightened. Invariably, it looked like there was no way out. It was downright despair, discouragement, and darkness.
If you are in the midst of your own seemingly barren place, where it seems that nothing has happened, where there has been trial after trial, heartache, grief, stretching beyond your human comprehension that you could possibly endure any of it, this, my friends, is a time of preparation, a time of transformation. You may think this is an overused analogy, but I want to say it works right now: that of the butterfly’s metamorphosis. That worm, inside the chrysalis, has no earthly idea of what’s going on in the outside world, it’s dark, it’s scary and really and truly, without the help of an internal biological clock, they have no idea when they’re actually going to get out of there.
Truthfully, the last 3 1/2 years or so of my life have felt like that, in the dark, in preparation, drawing closer to the Lord, I know, but not without some grumbling, complaining, questioning. Yes, God has revealed Himself to me in ways I never thought possible, but it hasn’t been in the most ideal of circumstances, loss of my marriage, my home, my identity as a parent has been threatened, I have been persecuted and yet somehow, strengthened. I can’t explain it, but it’s happening, God’s creating something better in me. Some days I can see a glimmer of light seeping into the cocoon, but most days, it just feels like hibernation, like struggle, like nothing is progressing, but it is, God is creating these beautiful flecks of color that are starting to show through the cocoon, these, THINGS, wings–whatever you want to call them are being strengthened, and God is doing it. He’s pressing but he’s also creating.