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When You Feel Barren

Are there barren places in your life where it feels like God has maybe forgotten about you, or He's taking way longer than you ever thought it would take to experience your harvest? You see your peers moving forward in their careers or family life while you wonder if there might be something wrong with you.

I was once someone who felt like the barren places in my life might always stay that way. The things I prayed for seemed so far out of my reach, and I felt helpless to change anything about my circumstances.

God repeatedly led me to Isaiah 54. For today, I'm going to share verses 1-5 from The Message translation with you:

Sing, barren woman, who has never had a baby.

Fill the air with song, you who’ve never experienced childbirth!

You’re ending up with far more children

than all those childbearing women.” God says so!

“Clear lots of ground for your tents!

Make your tents large. Spread out! Think big!

Use plenty of rope,

drive the tent pegs deep.

You’re going to need lots of elbow room

for your growing family.

You’re going to take over whole nations;

you’re going to resettle abandoned cities.

Don’t be afraid—you’re not going to be embarrassed.

Don’t hold back—you’re not going to come up short.

You’ll forget all about the humiliations of your youth,

and the indignities of being a widow will fade from memory.

For your Maker is your bridegroom,

his name, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!

Your Redeemer is The Holy of Israel,

known as God of the whole earth.

I wasn't barren in the typical sense, but places in my life that should've been lush and green were dry and colorless. As I looked at this passage, the command to SING! stood out to me. I was discouraged and didn't feel like singing, but I obeyed God's command. I began to turn on worship music whenever I could and sing my heart out. In church, instead of worrying about blending in, I put my whole heart and soul into praising God and stopped concerning myself about what anyone else might think.

This passage says to think big! Spread out! Basically - get ready before there's any obvious reason. Do it in faith for you won't be embarrassed! Don't hold back! You're not going to come up short.

I replaced my poverty mentality of always holding back with the attitude of abundance. Expectation became my default, rather than disappointment and discouragement. It became cemented in my heart that God was up to something and all I needed to do was prepare myself. Singing and abundant living became my act of worship.

God didn't allow me to be embarrassed or come up short. He provided in extraordinary ways, bringing me into a place of plenty where once there was absolutely nothing. No longer was I lonely, afraid, and vulnerable. I was placed in a family, supported, loved, and protected. God gave me children and a home. God blessed me in too many ways to try to list out here.

As I review this message today, I'm reminded that it's true for any season of life. These days, my tent is huge and I have plenty of elbow room, but with greater abundance comes greater responsibility. "Abundance" is as much a state of mind as it is your circumstances. You can trust God to take care of everything that concerns you, in His time, and your heart can be at peace even in circumstances where it's like your lips are dry, cracked, and bleeding from the need for water.

I remember one night eighteen years ago when I laid with my face to the wall, totally spent from tears, on the edge of total failure. I was about to come up short and be humiliated. My heart ached in my chest as I reviewed my choices, knowing that I'd thought big and spread out. Had I misunderstood God? Was I mentally unstable? With the last ounce of energy I could muster, I very quietly croaked out a song. "I will praise the Lord; I will praise the Lord. No matter what tomorrow brings, or what it has in store, I will praise the Lord." I fell asleep exhausted, afraid, and heart-broken. The next morning, very early, my phone rang. Half-asleep, I answered to discover that God had provided for me. He had made a way where there seemed to be no way. Nothing I could've come up with on my own would've equaled what He had already worked out for me.

At times I forget. Even today, Satan whispers lies into my heart. My abundant living was foolish and selfish. I'm going to come up short. I'm going to be embarrassed. Oh, but Satan forgets that all these things he accuses me of were done as an act of worship. They were done in radical trust that the Lord holds every act of faith in His mighty hands. So, I throw up my hands and praise God again and again. I thank God in advance for all He is doing for my good and His glory. I am on mission to serve Him.

My encouragement to you today is to TEST GOD in this promise. Sing! Praise God in advance for His faithfulness to you. Think big! Spread out! Your Redeemer is HERE. When you take a step in faith, He will rise to meet you. Turn on some good music and get loud. God does not care if you have a beautiful voice or are completely tone deaf. Let your sacrifice of praise be the gateway into God's abundance.

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