Have you ever felt like you’re stuck in the middle of something? Maybe it was a stressful financial situation that didn’t seem to have a clear resolution. Maybe it was a challenging relationship where things felt tense and unresolved. Maybe it was a career change or a daunting health diagnosis or a transition in your family life.
We all go through times in life where we’ve left comfort zones and safety behind but we haven’t reached a place of clarity or contentment again yet. Those middle places can be intimidating, exhausting, and overwhelming. We know what it’s like to feel like we are on the mountaintops of life, and when we feel ourselves starting to descend into the valleys where things aren’t as clear or comfortable, we often start to worry or fear.
Kristen Strong says it this way in her article “Courage for the Middle Places”on (in)courage: “And in this middle place of working through something—in the space between moving courageously and waiting for something to change—you can lose your gumption.”
I’ve lost my gumption many times. I’ve even lost my gumption recently, as in this very week.
I found myself feeling unappreciated, unqualified, unprepared, and weary, and I was so tempted to just give up entirely. I wanted off the team. I wanted to call it quits. I wanted to run away and never look back, because it all just seemed too messy and too hard to get through. Do you know the feeling?
I’ve been reading through the Old Testament every morning, and the last few weeks have been all about Moses. If there ever was someone in the Bible who felt unappreciated, unqualified, and unprepared, it was Moses. But who did the Lord use to deliver his people to the Promised Land? Moses. Looking at his life and all of his crazy adventures has been teaching me a lot about who God is and what that means for me.
You’ve heard the story of the Red Sea-- how God literally split an ocean in half to make a way where it had seemed like there was no way for the Israelites to escape captivity-- and it’s a powerful story of how to trust God in the middle places.
Let’s look at this story in Exodus 14.
“In this passage of Scripture, Pharaoh had just freed them from captivity, and the Lord then leads Moses and His people onward and away from Egypt,” says Strong. “But sometime shortly thereafter, Pharaoh changed his mind and goes after God’s people.
As the Israelites camped near the Red Sea, all of Pharaoh’s army barreled down on them. When the Israelites saw them approaching, they were full of fear and began questioning every move that brought them there. Moses spoke up and said, “Fear not, stand firm . . . The Lord will fight for you. (Exodus 14:13-14)”
Then the Lord unzipped the Red Sea’s waters so that the Israelites could cross. Once they reached the other side unharmed, He brought the waters back together again over the entire Egyptian army.
The Israelites were scared, yes, but they leaned into that promise: The Lord will fight for you.
And they moved forward.”
Nothing about that miracle was about the strength or ability or talents of the Israelites. It was entirely about God.
In that middle place where they were completely stuck, totally overwhelmed, and probably convinced that this was the end for them, the Lord made a way. They were commanded to fear not and to stand firm. They were assured that the Lord would fight on their behalf. He would make the way where there seemed to be no possible way.
“Bravery is not the absence of fear,” Strong writes, “but following God through the fear as you believe God’s promises. It’s holding on to the facts of your faith more tightly than to the fears for the future.”
In the seasons of life where we feel out of control, unable to see a way forward, in over our heads, or just totally hopeless, we can take comfort in the truth that our God fights for us. Even if we feel like the Israelites and we don’t think there could possibly be a way out of the circumstance we’ve found ourselves in, our Lord is a Provider who parts the oceans to deliver us into freedom.
We can trust him to make a way. We can trust him in the valleys of our lives just as we could on the mountaintops. We can trust him in the defeats just as we can in the victories. He is fighting for us always, and we need only to surrender our fear and stand firm. What a comfort that is.
Photo credit: Unsplash
Publication date: February 23, 2017
Rachel Dawson is the editor of BibleStudyTools.com