This week, we’re reading chapter 4 and 5 of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story. Though both of these chapters seem to speak to different groups of people, there’s a common thread: unfulfilled desires. We read about Carla and Raquel and their longings for better marriages, and we read about women like Cassandra and Katie who craved the joy of marriage.
No matter our circumstances, life sometimes disappoints us. But God is near. As Nancy and Robert wrote, “God is faithful and loving, no matter what happens [or doesn’t] in your closest relationships” (p. 63).
As I write this, the Scripture passage I read this morning sticks at the forefront of my mind. Genesis 11 tells us about a group of people who weren’t content with what God had provided for them. They wanted what they couldn’t have—fame and a promise of stability—so they started building. And what were they building? An altar to pray to the Lord? A hospital to care for their sick? No. A tower.
They said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” (v. 4)
Now, building things isn’t troublesome in itself. Just turn over to the next book of the Bible, Exodus, and the Lord Himself gives instructions for a massive construction and sewing project—the tabernacle. The problem here is that the builders of Babel wanted to find fulfillment in the building. They wanted their identity and home to be found in something temporary. They did it for their own glory and gain.
I imagine that the city was beautiful. No one builds a monument—even one to their own greatness—without some sense of aesthetics! And I’m sure having protection was outwardly beneficial for the people. But what did God think about it? He came down to see it, and He didn’t comment on its lovely boulevards and marvelous homes. No. He sent judgment.
“Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down there and confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech.” (Gen. 11:7)
What would have happened had these intrepid architects instead turned to the Lord? What if they had been content and prayerful instead of manipulative and conniving? We’re not told.
But . . . we are given a glimpse elsewhere in Scripture of what can happen when we turn to Him with our worries and longings. A little background story first.
Once upon a time, there was a noble king who ruled God’s people. He had many talents and many sons and the favor of God rested on him. But there was one problem. The king had a son that was rebellious. He tried to steal the kingdom by stealing the people’s hearts. He kissed their hands and flattered them and manipulated them when they were in need. The son longed for something just out of reach—his father’s throne. Things got so bad that a battle broke out, and the king had to run for his life.
What did this king do? King David prayed. (You can read the whole story in 2 Samuel 15–18.)
Imagine David’s fear and disappointment at being betrayed by his own son. Perhaps he laid awake at night and wept. Perhaps he longed for the glory of having a godly son and the safety of having a stable family and kingdom. Perhaps he was a lot like us.
And this is what he prayed (Psalm 3, my commentary added):
O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah
David identified the problem and cried out to God. Then he expressed his confidence in the fact that God would care for him, even when the situation seemed hopeless. He knew that the Lord was the answer to his distress and disappointment.
But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
Though his situation didn’t immediately change, David experienced peace.
I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
But even in his peace, David was bold in asking God for his desire. He was confident that only God could answer.
Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the Lord;
your blessing be on your people! Selah
Even though our situations may look drastically different than fleeing for our lives, we can still pray like this. Because of Jesus, we are able to choose to respond to our disappointments with faith. He has given us (and will give us) everything necessary for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
His promises are our sure foundation, as Carla in chapter 4 of our book discovered:
“I typed a list of all these verses and carried it around with me, clutching it to my heart, memorizing the verses, and trusting God to do what His Word says. I began to trust Him for who He is, rather than relying on Him for a particular outcome. . . .” (p. 64)
And He is always near to us. He is involved in the everyday moments of our lives and present in believers. My heart echoes Carla’s:
“I am deeply humbled by God’s intimate care for me, that He attends to my every need, that He promised to never leave or forsake me (Deut. 31:6). That He calls me by name and that I am holy and dearly loved in His sight (Col. 3:12). That I am secure in Him regardless of my circumstances. That God is my great reward (Gen. 15:1). That His love satisfies my deepest needs.” (p. 65)
Though I often try to build Babels out of my ability to protect myself or earn more money or get the right people to notice me, God is my great reward. I know and trust that He is the real shield that I need. He is the only one who can lift up our heads in our disappointment. He is the one who dearly loves us. With God as builder and controller, our lives can be a masterpiece of God’s grace.
Keeping all that in mind, let’s cry out to Him like David and like Carla. Let’s trust that salvation belongs to Him.
Reflect and Discuss
What Babels are you most prone to build and why? How do you take to the Lord the desires that tempt you to plot and scheme? (Or do you? Be honest and turn to your good Father now in prayer.)
What promises from Scripture can you carry with you to remind yourself of His goodness and care? Write them down on an index card or sticky note and put it somewhere you can see it often—just like Carla did.