In J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” there is a place in the story where Frodo and Samwise are on the stairs that lead into the land of Mordor. Darkness has come over the world so they cannot tell if it is day or night, and they are alone in enemy territory with only the help of the treacherous Gollum. And they speculate on what kind of story they are in and how that story might end, realizing they are at a hard place in the story and it is not clear will happen next. Have you ever felt that way about your life, that you are at a place where you do not know what God is doing? As we look at the Scripture we see many places where everything must have seemed lost and God’s people must have wondered if God had a plan. Israel in slavery in Egypt waiting for the coming of Moses, who God would use to deliver them; Isaiah seeing Assyria take the northern kingdom of Israel into captivity; Jeremiah seeing Babylon take the southern kingdom of Judah also into captivity; or the nation of Judah, returned from captivity but under foreign rulers, waiting for their Messiah. And in many of these times there were those who died, never having never seen the situation turn around. God is the God of the big picture. He is the God of the big picture in history, and He is the God of the big picture in our lives.
Now Scripture does teach us that God is in control of our lives (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 2:10; 1:11). But it also tells us to expect problems (John 16:33; Acts 14:22; 1 Peter 4:12,13). While it tells us how the story ends (Revelation 21:4; 2 Corinthians 4:17,18; Philippians 3:20,21), sometimes, like Frodo and Samwise, we are in a hard part of the story and need to trust God to bring us through it (Proverbs 3:5,6; Hebrews 11:13-16; Matthew 6:33). Also, we need to trust God to forgive us if it is our own sin that has brought us to this impasse (Romans 8:33,34; 2 Corinthians 7:10; Proverbs 28:13) But this can be difficult, if for no other reason than we want to be in control of our own lives. I remember on one occasion when I was out of a job and was by myself praying. And as I was praying, God brought up to me my stubbornness and my tendency to think I was strong and could handle things. I protested that that was my personality, and He replied that it was my sin. In the same way, we need to be able to put aside our trust in ourselves and our idols (the various other things we trust in) and trust in the great God who is all-powerful (Isaiah 40:12-28) and who cares for us (Isaiah 40:9-11). Even when we are at a hard place in the story.