Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” (John 13:7)
Jesus uttered these words as He was washing His disciples’ feet on the night He would be betrayed. When Jesus came to Simon Peter and knelt to wash his feet, Peter was as confused as he was convicted that he was utterly unworthy to have Jesus Christ—the King of kings and Lord of lords—wash his feet. As Jesus said, Peter did not understand in that moment, but later the lesson was learned: In order to be a leader you must first be willing to be a servant.
You may remember the story of Job and how everything except his life was taken from him by the evil one. When Job went before the throne of heaven, heaven was silent for a very long time. God did not enter into a dialogue with Job for many days, and even then, the Lord offered no explanation for what Job had suffered. Job had to learn that we are to trust God even when we cannot trace Him . . . and he had to learn that lesson later.
Take a moment to reflect back on your life and a time when your heart was heavy and heaven was silent. What did you learn from that season of silence? To be sure, at the bare minimum, we learn, as Job did, to trust God’s promise that He causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him. But often we must learn this truth later. Our human nature wants answers and we want them right now. But for the disciple of Christ, answers are often exchanged for the Almighty. Like Job, we remain perplexed, but we are sustained in His presence and we trust that God is working all things for our good and His glory.
“I know that you can do all things,” Job said simply; “no plan of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). Job had learned from personal experience the truth that is expressed in the psalms: “The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths” (Psalm 135:6)—and it pleases God to bless His children, even though that blessing may come to us out of a whirlwind.
The Christian must live life by faith and not sight, and receive the silence of heaven with the trusting heart of a child, knowing that our Good God has only good intentions in mind for us. As the psalmist wrote . . .
Why are you depressed, O my soul?
Why are you upset?
Wait for God!
For I will again give thanks
to my God for his saving intervention. (Psalm 42:5 NET)
How many lessons have you learned in life . . . later? You know, answers regarding many things in life may not come until we get to the other side. But some answers do indeed come here. The disciples did understand what Jesus was doing when He washed their feet . . . but not until Pentecost, fifty days after the Lord’s resurrection. They needed to get to the other side of the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension; when the Holy Spirit came upon them, they learned the lesson. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Be encouraged today, Christian! God has loved you with an everlasting love; He has promised never to leave you nor forsake you. Keep looking to your Lord, knowing that in His perfect time and in His perfect way, the lesson will come to you, and you will be lifted by what you have learned. You will know, deep down, that your heavenly Father is speaking glorious truth into your life.
Hold fast to these words of heavenly comfort:
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.
[T]he Lord’s unfailing love
surrounds the man who trusts in him.
Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart! (Psalm 32:8, 10-11)
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!