Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Exceedingly Abundantly Above -Even in the Hardest of Seasons

 By: Rebekah Hargraves

Photo Courtesy Of: Rainier Ridao

"Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or thinkaccording to the power that works in us—to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

~Ephesians 3:20-21

The Lord walked with me and my family on a hard journey the summer of 2022. Though I cannot share all the details publicly, suffice it to say that our family unit thought for a time that summer that we were on a path of smooth sailing to see the fulfillment of a lifelong dream finally come to fruition - in quite an astounding way, I might add! Plans were made, connections lined up, daydreams discussed and entertained, only for everything to come to a screeching halt at the end of June that year in a really hard, painful way. Now, a year and a half later, we don't know if that plan and dream will every come to pass or not. Everything is very much still up in the air, and there are painful issues and hurt feelings that still have to be sorted through and worked out. There is, as of yet, no pretty bow completely tying up this story. We are in limbo still. We are still a bit discombobulated. And we don't yet know what it is that God is doing or why He allowed things to unfold as they have thus far.

Which has sent me (and, really, Owen and me both at times!) reeling at times over the past 18 months. 

Because this is not at all how God operated during Owen's 7 month deployment that spanned from last July 2021 to February 2022.

During the deployment, we (particularly Owen, though as his wife, it affected me, too!) went through some incredibly hard, scary, painful, overwhelming, and soul-crushing experiences. We cried out to God to provide a way out, to save us from what the enemy had thrown our way. 

And you know what? 

He did! 

In huge, Ephesians 3:20 ("above anything we could as or think") type of ways. He answered in a truly miraculous ("the military never does this!") way. And though the deployment was hard up until that point, once that miracle happened, there was a smooth path laid out in front of us, with one clear step in front of the other, and no wondering what God was doing or wondering how we would find a way out of the mess. It was a linear path.

What we have been going through now is not. There is no linear aspect to this, no clearly laid out path. If anything, the clearly laid out path was ripped out from underneath us. There is no clear one step in front of the other. Instead, it's a roller coaster, a here, there, and everywhere path, a road full of u-turns and detours and directions that are getting us lost down some side road. 

And that has been discombobulating. 


Because what I discovered is that I had been wrongly thinking that God would alway operate in the exact same way, that He would always make the path really clear and really smooth and really big and clearly miraculous.

But He doesn't.

And what I'm finding now is that there is a really good reason for that (albeit hard and painful and confusing!) reality. 

If He always operated the same way every time, what would happen? Well, we would begin to rely on our own understanding (as we discovered in last Tuesday's devotional is an issue!). We would begin to look back, see how God moved in the past, and automatically assume we know what He will do in the future (which, I might add, Moses and the Israelites were guilty of, as well!). We would stop seeking His face, stop relying on Him, stop being in fervent prayer, and stop asking Him for wisdom, help, and strength. We would simply look back on what we know what the case in the past, lean on our own understanding that things will happen that exact way again, and strike out on our own without a thought to the Lord or our need for a daily, intimate relationship with Him, as we waited and watched for what we just "know" is going to happen.

And what I am discovering in this season in the midst of what has been a frustrating, confusing, hurtful season is that the fact that the Lord does not always act in the same predictable way is actually a good thing! It is a faith-building thing! It is a force-you-to-actually-turn-to-and-rely-on-the-Lord thing. And that is precisely what we need in this life. What we need is to walk by the Spirit, to daily have a close, personal, one-step-at-a-time looking to the Lord for guidance and direction, way of doing life. And that is what we are forced to gain when we find ourselves in situations that are not unfolding as they did before. 

I don't know what you may be going through at this moment, friend, and if you are going through your own painful season, I am so sorry. I know how hard and discombobulating that really is. But please hear me when I say that what I do know is that this forced reliance on the Lord and His work and His plan is a good thing. That trusting, attentive, reliant, submissive, prayerful posture is the best place for you and me to be. And we can rest in that, come what may. Because our God is still in the business of doing exceedingly abundantly above anything we could ask or think. 

Reflection Questions:

1) Has there been a time when you have assumed God will always work in the exact same way? How did that harm your faith?

2) What are you going through right now where you can prayerfully anticipate the Lord coming through in an Ephesians 3:20 way?

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