When You’re Ready to Quit
Dr. Jim Denison
There is a story going around that at a computer exposition, Bill Gates compared the computer industry with the automobile industry and stated, “If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.”
It goes on that in response, GM issued a press release stating that if GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics. (1) For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day. (2) About every two to three years, you would have to buy a new car. (3) Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull over to the side of the road, close all the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason, you would simply accept this. (4) The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single ‘This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation’ warning light. (5) The airbag system would ask ‘Are you sure?’ before deploying. (6) Occasionally, for no reason at all, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna. (7) Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car. (8) You’d have to press the ‘Start’ button to turn the engine off.
Life is filled with challenges which technology cannot solve for us. There are times when life crashes with no reboot in sight, when the road dead ends no matter what car we’re driving. What is your greatest struggle, or shame, or disappointment? Where does it seem God is silent to your cries, unreceptive to your prayers, distant to your pain? What do we do there?
Our text tells us to keep worshiping God. Keep trusting God. Keep going to God. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. But why not, when you’ve given God all the time and opportunity he needs and he is still silent? Let’s see how God answers our question.
Where has God disappointed you? (v. 27)
Judah was all that is left of God’s chosen people. But now the nation is in exile in Babylon, her homeland burned and destroyed. She is the South just after Sherman’s march through Atlanta. Her people feel they have no future, that their God has abandoned them or is too weak to help them. This was never to happen to them. So God’s people are “weak” and “weary”—these words appear in every verse from 28 to 31. They are depressed and ready to quit on God.
They’re not the last.
Philip Yancey’s classic book, Disappointment With God, tells the stories of suffering souls he has known and interviewed, many of whom felt they had reason to give up on their faith. In a fascinating irony, I noticed this week that my copy has a label on the cover which says, “100% Money Back Guarantee. If for any reason you are dissatisfied with ‘Disappointment with God,’ return it postpaid (with the receipt) to Zondervan Publishing House for a complete refund.” The book comes with a money-back guarantee. But the faith it describes does not, in the experience of many of us.
We become disappointed with God for two reasons.
Sometimes we feel, “My way is hidden from the Lord.” “Way” in the Hebrew means our “condition;” “hidden” means “unknown.” My condition or problem is unknown to God, or he would do something about it. He doesn’t know about me.
Or he doesn’t care: “my cause is disregarded by my God.” He knows about me, but doesn’t care to get involved. It’s not his intelligence which is limited, but his love.
Either he doesn’t know, or he doesn’t care. Otherwise, why won’t he help us? Why won’t he get us out of our Babylonian slavery and transport us to the Promised Land? Why is he unfair, or silent, or hidden?
Be honest and specific: aren’t you asking such questions in your mind or spirit, either consciously or unconsciously? Don’t you have nagging doubts, or even worse, shouting pain in your soul? You prayed for a loved one who died anyway; you asked God to keep you from falling into sin again, but you fell anyway; you asked God to guide your decision, but it was the wrong one; you asked him to heal you, but he hasn’t; you asked him for a job, but you’re still unemployed; you’ve told him of your loneliness, but you’re still alone.
Why hasn’t he helped you? (v. 28-31a)
Why hasn’t this God helped you?
It’s not because he doesn’t know, that your “way is hidden from the Lord.” You see, “The Lord is the everlasting God” (v. 28a). He is the God of all time. He is present in every moment, aware of every event, omniscient in every second, in ancient Babylon and in Dallas this morning.
And it’s not because he can’t help, for he is “the Creator of the ends of the earth” (v. 28b). He is the God of time and space. He created Babylon; he created Dallas; he created you.
“He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” It’s not because he doesn’t know or cannot help.
Then why? It’s not because he doesn’t want to help us: “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (v. 29). These verbs are in the active sense—this is his initiative, his choice, his action. They are in the present tense—he is still doing this.
Then why not for you?
Perhaps he is answering your prayers in ways you do not yet see. Before your next employer can call you with a job opening, the person in that position must move to California to take a job with a firm there. God is engineering that step, so he can then move you. Dominoes you cannot see must fall first.