February 6

“He turned the sea into dry land; they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him.” Psalm 66:6

It is a striking assertion, “through the floods” (the place where we might have expected nothing but trembling and terror, anguish and dismay) “there,” says the Psalmist, “did we rejoice in him!” How many there are who can endorse this as their experience: that “there,” in their very seasons of distress and sadness, they have been enabled, as they never did before, to triumph and rejoice. How near their God in covenant is brought! How brightly shine His promises! In the day of our prosperity we cannot see the brilliancy of these. Like the sun at noon, hiding out the stars from sight, they are indiscernible; but when night overtakes, the deep, dark night of sorrow, out come these clustering stars–blessed constellations of Bible hope and promise of consolation.

Like Jacob at Jabbok, it is when our earthly sun goes down that the Divine Angel comes forth, and we wrestle with Him and prevail. It was at night, “in the evening,” Aaron lit the sanctuary lamps. It is in the night of trouble the brightest lamps of the believer are often kindled.

It was in his loneliness and exile John had the glorious vision of his Redeemer. There is many a Patmos still in the world, whose brightest remembrances are those of God’s presence and upholding grace and love in solitude and sadness. How many pilgrims, still passing through these Red Seas and Jordans of earthly affliction, will be enabled in the retrospect of eternity to say—full of the memories of God’s great goodness—“We went through the flood on foot, there—there, in these dark experiences, with the surging waves on every side, deep calling to deep, Jordan, as when Israel crossed it, in ‘the time of the overflowing’ (flood), yet, ‘there did we rejoice in Him!'” (Streams in the Desert)

We sat across from one another, with not much in common except a question. I wasn’t exactly sure how he had found me, but here we were, sipping coffee, exchanging pleasantries, edging closer to the reason we had agreed to meet in the first place. I asked what I could do for him and heard him say that he was spiritually dry as toast, and looking for someone to help revive what was left of his Christian experience. The crux of the matter was that he was more disillusioned with himself than with God, but the Almighty ran a close second. Years of Christian ministry had obscured the reason for that service, leaving him in a downward spiral of guilt and dissatisfaction. When I asked the bottom line of his apparent misery he replied, “I’m not sure if any of this is real, and I don’t see how I can play the game any longer. I have more questions than I do answers.” The silence was tangible between us, his downward stare reflected a defeated heart, but he raised eyebrows and his gaze when I finally spoke and said, “We honor God most by the questions we ask. It’s when we begin to question that we draw closest to the heart of God.”

God speaks more clearly to us through our questions than is possible when we’re convinced that we have all the answers; when we question our mind remains open. When we focus on answers our mind is made up, which is actually a curious phrase. Saying I have my mind made up sounds on par with making my bed or having poached eggs for breakfast. Faith is not that neat, simple, or bland. Questioning is not doubting because it anticipates an answer, making it great faith and even greater hope. Questions are not the enemy of faith; arrogance is.

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