I was caught off guard the other day, when I saw these words on an Instagram post:
“sometimes God rescues us and sometimes God restores us.”
I’ve had a rough year. In this past season, I have been counting on God to restore me.
“hard times plus healing time plus staying faithful to God should equal the exact good outcome we were counting on.”
Yup. That’s my plan. I’ve been through some hard times. I’ve stayed faithful. I’ve put in the work. By now I should be receiving that restoration, right?
And it may yet happen. But coming up to a new year, with so much still in limbo, in shambles, or still so fragile…
Well, I’m frustrated. Disappointed. Discouraged.
Sometimes God rescues us and sometimes God restores us.
The God who rescues
I wonder about Joseph, carried off into Egypt. How many years did he cry out for restoration? To go back home, safe in his father’s house. To be the pampered prince he’d been as a child. To have an inheritance.
But God knew what was coming: famine. Joseph’s inheritance would be worthless. His father’s home wasn’t safe. Rather than restore, God rescued Joseph. He placed him in a land with rich harvests. He taught him to be a powerful administrator. He blessed his hard work. And through Joseph, God rescued his entire family and placed them in safety in Egypt. Joseph wanted restoration, but he got a much-needed a rescue instead.
The God who restores
Or consider Job. He wanted a rescue. Escape from the pain and tragedy that surrounded him. Death, even. Just rescue him from the misery. But God had more in store – a full restoration. Although Job lost everything, by the time his story ends, the Bible tells us
When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before! (Job 42:10).
God wasn’t content with a rescue. He was looking to restore Job.
I think there’s a third option, here, too.
The God who renews
Sometimes it’s not rescue, nor restoration God is after. Sometimes he’s looking to do something completely new.
He lets things die because what we value so highly is only an imitation of what he can provide. He chooses not to piece broken pieces back together because he’s got something better in mind. He’s happy to work with nothing at all, because He’s the God who spoke the world into being with just a single word. So while we’re crying out for rescue, or knocking on heaven’s doors for restoration, he’s looking to get our attention and see what he’s doing: creating something brand-new.
I suppose there are times when God makes it very clear what he’s about to do: Moses, leading God’s rescue of his people out of Egypt comes to mind. They were very aware God was rescuing them. Later on, when the Israelites went to conquer the Promised Land: God was upfront with the restoration of their homeland he was undertaking on their behalf.
But often times we just don’t know. To trust that God is at work when there seems to be no progress in the direction you’re looking – that’s faith. To believe in the unseen. To hope.
God, give us eyes to see your movement in our lives. Let us not become discouraged when the restoration (or rescue, or renew) we long for isn’t in sight. Instead, let us see where you are working on our behalf. Amen.