This Too Shall Last
All of us experience moments in which we seem reduced to trying to do nothing more than survive. In those moments it is all we can do to hang on. When those situations turn into full-blown seasons we sometimes find comfort in nothing more than the knowledge that the situation cannot last forever. Thus, the phrase: This too shall pass.
It is a curious phrase. It comes from Jewish folklore that tells a story of a powerful king (in some traditions said to be Solomon) who assembled all of his sages and commissioned them to make a ring that would make him happy when he was sad, and sad when he was happy. After much deliberation the result was a ring etched with the words: This Too Shall Pass. The question of which effect the phrase will have on you depends on how you view your current reality. And that is the real question here: How do you view your reality?
Your reality, like all realities, is made up of several identifiable things. One thing is the circumstances themselves. A second thing is God’s potential action (which will display His glory). A third thing is the narrative (your story) that is being told through your situation. Now, there are more things we could list, but let me stop with those three very basic elements in your situation and point out some things. Out of those three things (the circumstances, God’s glory, your story) only one of them is destined to die. Which one? That is correct. Circumstances. All circumstances die. On the other hand, those other two things (God’s glory and your story) can never die. They are, by their very nature, eternal things. Circumstances, by their very nature, always come to an end.
Faith is where your story and God’s glory meet. Circumstances are nothing more than the opportunity for those two things to collide. Perhaps you are going through a time of overwhelming financial need. This is the time when God might be known again as Jehovah Jireh, by being God your Provider in the midst of your story. Or perhaps you are facing a serious health issue. This is the time that God might be known as Jehovah Rapha, by being God your healer in the midst of your story. Sometimes this will encourage us, but then we get distracted by our desire for certain outcomes. However, outcomes are nothing more than new circumstances, and as we have already determined: all circumstances die.
Faith is not the ability to wish for certain outcomes. Faith is the ability to trust that the eternal aspects of my situation (God’s glory and my story) are worth focusing on, while the dying aspects of my situation (the circumstances) are only passing opportunities to get more of the story written.
Some might object, “But you don’t understand. These circumstances have lasted so very long.” Even if they last for the entirety of the days that you walk on earth those circumstances are but a vanishing vapor (James 4:14). On the other hand, your story is being woven into the tapestry of God. All of our stories get summed up in Christ (Ephesians 1:9-10), in whom they will never die. And that is our true hope, not temporary outcomes.
Every situation has within it things that are eternal and things that are passing away. If you are merely trying to hang on while waiting for your circumstances to change and certain outcomes to arrive, then you are focused on the things in your situation that are destined to die. However, your joy is not dependent on any outcome, instead it is dependent on your ability to shift your attention off of the things that are passing and onto the things that will live forever. The moment that you realize that you are in the midst of having your eternal story written you will rediscover your heart’s desire, for God has put eternity into each of our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). It is there that true joy springs up. And it is there that you lose the dying phrase: this too shall pass; and learn the eternal phrase: this too shall last.