A few weeks ago we traveled to Eluru town in Andhra Pradesh to spend the weekend with a church group very close to our hearts. Having visted a couple of times earlier , the route to Eluru was familiar and we began to drive early Saturday morning.
My husband, who loves a hearty breakfast was looking forward to stopping at one of the breakfast places on the outskirts of Hyderabad before we hit the highway . But all of these were shut as it was a little too early to begin service I guess . Disappointed a little, he continued to drive, hoping we would find a place to eat on the way. Sometime later we came across a huge billboard announcing a breakfast place about 15 minutes away. The hoarding with drool worthy pictures of Dosas made my husband drive faster. There seemed to be a kind of anticipatory twinkle in his eye which I found quite amusing, and he was on the lookout constantly to make sure we did not miss it . Finally we drove past another hoarding that said the place was ‘just a minute ‘ away ! My smiling hubby continued to drive and we finally reached the spot of the advertised ‘breakfast stop’. Much to our disappointment the place was still under construction! I didn’t know what to say ! I felt so sad that he was disappointed a second time , but he said nothing and continued to drive! About 20 minutes later we crossed a restaurant sign that said – N Grill. We knew they had one with a similar name back in Hyderabad – a posh grill place owned by a movie star. I somehow felt this name seemed out of place in the wilderness but couldn’t believe my eyes at what I saw when our car whizzed past..there was a restaurant and people were actually eating at 7:00 am!
Then, to our delight, we entered the driveway of a beautiful and serene restaurant and, that too on the highway, in the middle of nowhere. My husband grinned from ear to ear not believing his eyes! Soon we found ourselves tucking into one of the best South Indian breakfasts we’ve had in a long time, and in a lovely corner overlooking the lawn ! This was unbelievable! How marvellously our Lord had taken care of my husband’s tiny disappointment !
Over coffee I couldn’t help but think of the phrase “ a table in the wilderness “ . Yes that’s what our Lord had done for us that day! He provided a table in the wilderness ! But, there was a deeper lesson He was teaching us through this exercise of disappointment followed by delight. And that was – that He has the best in mind for those who love Him and wait patiently for Him. With a phase of disappointments recently, it seemed as if the Lord was showing us in practical terms what it is like to wait for Him. Sometimes options that seem just right and perfect according to us may not be the right one according to our Lord. “There is a way that seems right to a man but the end of it is death.” We need to learn to wait for Him.
In the middle of deep disappointment and despair we often ask – Why Lord? During such times doubts can arise in our minds about the character of God as loving, compassionate and kind. While it is normal human thinking, we who are learning submission to CHRIST will look to Him and to His Word for reassurance and draw our comfort from Him and turn a deaf ear to the false suggestions about the goodness of God that the evil one may try to whisper. We need to guard against such thoughts from entering our minds.
We discussed about this when on the road again.
An amazing weekend followed over fellowship and bible study with Brother Nagesh and the lovely bunch of the Lord’s people in Eluru. We practically experienced the reality of Christ’s love through His saints as mentioned in Ephesians 3: 17-19. On Sunday evening we also visited another small group gathering in the village of Asanagudem thirty kilometers from Eluru. We found that to be the highlight of our weekend as we soaked in the sights of rural Andhra and enjoyed sweet fellowship and studying the Word with a group of simple believers full of love for the Lord and hunger for His Word.
While we shared our thoughts and experiences on our journey of faith during this time, we also received strength and encouragement so needed for our current situation . Being thankful in all circumstances and praising Him in the midst of fiery trial were our takeaways from that glorious weekend in Eluru.
The scriptures passages were from letter to the Philippians chapters 1 and 4.
In Philippi, Paul and Silas were arrested for preaching the Message , flogged severely and thrown into prison with their feet bound by stocks . But instead of being anxious or upset they were singing hymns and praising the Lord in the middle of the night. And then there was a huge earthquake that broke the prison shackles of all the inmates .. the entire episode is narrated in Acts 16 .
Praise and thanksgiving that stem from a sincere heart are powerful in themselves .A reason why we don’t see the supernatural hand of God in our circumstances, is because we sulk instead of giving Him thanks.“ Give thanks in ALL circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18). It is tough to thank God for disappointments but yes He allows them with a reason and when we don’t know them we continue to trust His intentions that are nothing but in the best interests of His children .
How often do we find ourselves teetering on the edge of the faith fence almost ready to fall into the valley of anxiety when things don’t work out the way we want them to? Paul commands us “ do not be anxious” and our Lord commands us “do not worry”. In the letter to the Philippians chapter 4 Paul instructs not to worry about anything and also reminds us of the Lord’s assurance to provide all our needs . These were deeply comforting words that touched our spirits – and we were like thirsty desert travellers drinking cold refreshing water that instantly dissipated our weariness !
And strange as it seems we were reminded again of this through the incident in 2 chronicles 20 when king Jehoshaphat began to praise and thank God in faith after being assured of victory in battle by The Lord.
The path of discipleship is not easy but the one who makes it worthwhile is the One who went before us on that same path and promises His presence with us till the end.