The past month and a half have not been easy for me. The teacher life has a few extra challenges this year, and while I love getting to create new programs at a school I adore, I’ve been hitting the end of my physical and mental rope.
The days sometimes blur together, the nights are either heavy and dreamless or filled with vivid and fascinating dreams. The mornings are laden with prayers of dependence and the evenings are packed with planning and grading. And in between, the days are gifts of teaching what I love to students I love.
But I confess: sometimes the days feel like a tired repeat of the day before, and I wonder what there is to look forward to (besides not having to grade essays, come summer). With as many reasons as I have to be content, there should be no reason for complaint. Yet when one is overcome with extreme exhaustion, it’s sometimes difficult to keep one’s mind away from negativity and despair.
It’s easy to look to the day ahead with either pessimism (“I’m going to be too tired, everything is going to feel hard, and nothing will go well”) or unrealistic optimism (“Everything will go exactly as I planned, and maybe my life will unexpectedly take a turn for the better!”).
Yet God has been teaching me recently to turn to him in constant prayer and to sink my expectations more fully into him. I don’t know what the future will bring—only God does. But here is what I can expect for each and every day:
He will sustain me.
He will sanctify me.
He will satisfy me.
Of this, I can be certain.
My God has promised to sustain me. Every weary day, every tear-filled night, every waiting moment, every exhausting stack of papers—He has promised to never leave me nor forsake me. The Psalms are filled with such promises, such as:
“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand” (Psalm 37:23-24).
When I feel like I just can’t do it anymore, God is sustaining me. When I feel alone or burdened, God is sustaining me. He’s teaching me to stop trying to sustain myself with my own strength, and instead, look to his strength. He allows me to feel weak and vulnerable so that I have to rely on him—to remind me that I’m not God and that I need him more than I need myself.
My God has also promised to sanctify me. No matter what happens in a day, God will use it to sanctify me. My faith needs a lot of refining. My pride needs pruning, my selfishness needs shearing, my control needs clipping. And God uses my daily circumstances to do all those things. In moments of frustration or irritation, he’s teaching me valuable lessons about where I’m putting my hope and where my sin needs to be addressed.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 says, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
God is faithful to sanctify me so that I can be more like him. He knows my sin isn’t what’s best for me, so he will faithfully work on my heart every day until I’m “kept blameless.” If I learn to have the expectation that God is using my circumstances to sanctify my sinful heart, I have a lot less bitterness and resentment toward them.
Finally, I know my God will satisfy me every day. Psalm 107:9 says, “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” This is a promise. Am I going to believe this promise? Or am I going to push it away and focus on my feelings?
“Well, God, I don’t feel satisfied in you, so it must not be true today,” I sometimes sinfully think. But feelings are fleeting and sometimes irrational. God, however, is a stable force outside of my feelings who never changes and knowing this fact does indeed satisfy what I’m aching for.
The Bread of Life is what my hungry soul actually needs. The Living Water is what my parched heart is begging for. When I go to his Word and ask him to reveal himself in satisfying ways, he always answers that prayer.
I can’t predict or expect any event on a daily basis. But I can expect these three things with certainty—satisfaction, sanctification, and sustenance—because God has promised them to me. And he who promised is faithful.
I pray that I would learn to release my grip on the expectations for my life that I often make into an idol. Instead, I humbly ask to have my expectations be placed on Christ alone. He knows what I need, and he will provide it.