God’s Meaning in Life’s Meanwhiles

By Pamela Bunn – BSF Board Member

Recently, a dear friend sat in an emergency room while doctors treated her husband, who had experienced multiple seizures earlier in the day. 

As the minutes and silence stretched on, my friend decided to contact the chaplain at her child’s school about a concern that was unrelated to the current crisis. 

For the first time in days, my friend, a busy physician and mother of four, was given the unscheduled time to sit, linger and have a much-needed conversation regarding one of her children. As God cared for my friend’s husband nearby and met the needs of her son many miles away, He comforted my friend with His presence as she waited.  

God was active all around in the meanwhile.

In the midst of emergencies, challenging work, difficult relationships, significant change, or the uncertainties of a pandemic, we naturally become absorbed in our current situation. We ask, “What should Ibe doing? What do I need? Where should I focus?” 

And while we concentrate on the immediate task that demands our attention and energy, we often fail to see what God is doing in the meanwhile. When we pause, step back, and consider our broad, high, transcendent God, we get a glimpse of His bigger picture and marvel at it. Our Omniscient God has His hands in every event and works in all of our meanwhiles. He is never overwhelmed. He sovereignly orchestrates all things for His good purposes, whether or not we ever see or understand them. When we look to the sky and see the thick of clouds, we know that behind them His light still burns intentionally and bright. 

Meanwhiles in Scripture

From Genesis to Revelation, God’s Word is full of His work in the meanwhiles. 

In Genesis 29, Jacob worked to win his wife, Rachel. During the next 20 years, he navigated his father-in-law’s deceptions, raised a family, built a thriving livestock herd and planned to return home. Meanwhile, unseen by Jacob, God was using these years to untangle Jacob’s past problems in Canaan. 

In Genesis 32, as he prepared to meet his brother, Jacob anticipated an attack from Esau’s men. During a sleepless night, he was consumed by “great fear and distress.” Meanwhile, God had gone before Jacob to soften Esau’s heart.

In Genesis 50, Joseph summarized his grasp of God’s work in his meanwhiles when he told his brothers, As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

Throughout Scripture, God gives us glimpses of His sovereignty that encourage us to trust Him more deeply.

In Egypt, the Israelites groaned in slavery. Meanwhile, in Egypt as well as the desert, God was preparing Moses to deliver them from their captivity.

When Israel demanded a king, God gave them Saul. Meanwhile, He prepared David in the sheep fields to be a man after His heart and later take over the shepherding of His people.

And toward the end of the Old Testament, God seemed silent, sending no new prophets for 400 years. Meanwhile, He was preparing the world for the Messiah, His beloved Son who would die to redeem His people.

The Lessons We Learn

God works in ways visible and invisible. He is ever present and never confused. He handles every situation coincidentally, the known and the meanwhiles, neglecting none, and perfectly bringing about all He ordains. As with the Israelites of the Old Testament or the believers of the New Testament, God is accomplishing many things: 

He expands our understanding of His ways – they are vast, eternal and always good. 

He increases our appreciation of His power – it is limitless, ordered and never arbitrary. 

He enriches our worship of His greatness – His thoughts are beyond our thoughts, and His love has no bounds. 

Our Personal Meanwhiles

The same God who upholds the stars is working beyond what we see. He is the author of our meanwhiles. As He places kings, prime ministers, and presidents in authority, He also strategically places each of us where we are. 

When we feel thrown off balance, stretched by demands on our time and efforts, we can remember the meanwhiles of Genesis through Jacob and Joseph. 

We can ask, “How might God be working in my meanwhile? Is He refining a skill? Testing my faith? Adjusting my attitude or reordering my affections? Developing steadfastness and maturity? Meanwhile, what is He revealing about Himself?” 

Though we cannot understand all of God’s plans, we can trust that His work stretches beyond what we see. As we prepare our hearts and minds for Matthew, let’s take some time to reflect on God’s work during the past year. We can rest assured there is meaning in every meanwhile to come. 

Pamela Bunn

BSF Board Member

Pamela Bunn grew up in St. Louis, Mo., graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in English, and started BSF as a near newlywed in 1982 in St. Petersburg, Fla. After moving to her husband’s hometown Raleigh, NC in 1986, she served as a GL, an STL, a TL and an Area Advisor for eastern North Carolina and South Carolina, until 2013 when she joined the BSF Board of Directors. She served on the St. David’s School Board of Trustees in Raleigh for twenty years, and has been a Director for Benjamin F. Edwards & Co in St. Louis since 2010, where she works part time as a special advisor to the executive division. Pamela writes a daily devotional blog, astherainandsnow.com (inspired by Isaiah 55:10-11), delighting to combine her love for words, God’s Word and her photography of God’s creation. She and her husband, Lee, live in Naples, Fla., and are active in teaching, discipleship and shepherding ministries, especially with young couples. They have three adult children, two daughters-in-law and five grandchildren.

 

106 Comments

  1. Thanks Pamela for your sharing. Yes, our God is an awesome God. He creates and sustains. In my every past meanwhile, I can see how God orchestrated my life, helping me through and through all the trials shaping me for His good and eternal plan.

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    • Can you help me find a zoom ladies Bible study

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  2. With all the ups and downs in life I am encouraged to know that God is in perfect control even in the meanwhile.

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  3. I thank you for helping me as I grow in the Lord through BSF

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  4. I really enjoyed reading this. I also rejoice with your blog because Isaiah 55:8-13 is my favorite Scripture and I recite it almost every day at the beginning of my prayer. Thank you!

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  5. So insightful. Especially during the times we live In. With so much uncertainty of the future of our country and our beliefs as christians. Such a good reminder of God’s sovereignty and hope .

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  6. Thanks for this encouraging blog. And thank you for serving the Lord through BSF.

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  7. I enjoyed this. Thank you.

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  8. Thank you for infusing the word “meanwhile” with such power, turning it into a reminder that God is always, always, always at work and that He’s doing things bigger and deeper than I can imagine!

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  9. Thank you so much for sharing the Word of God. There are so many meanwhile in our lives we take for granted yet God is always at work. God bless you.

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  10. A very timely message reminding us that our God never sleeps or slumbers and is always working out his plan for and in our lives!

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  11. Thank you for reminding us that God’s control every details on our life. Their is ups and down passing thru us . He know our limitation, He’s love us and He want us to focus on Him alone ..Thank you very much!

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  12. Pamela, Thank you for sharing these powerful insights. As I reflect on my meanwhile right now, I can see how God is growing my faith and dependence on Him. Isn’t it true that our love for our Lord grows deeper as we see how He sustains and leads us through our circumstances that are beyond our control. Again, thank you for sharing exactly what God knew I needed to hear.

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  13. Indeed, God in our MEANWHILES fulfills His Promises to believers,” I will never leave you alone nor forsake you. “As to Jacob, He assures us as HIS CHILDREN THAT,”i WILL NOT LEAVE YOU ALONE UNTIL MY PROMISES TO YOU ARE FULFILLED IN YOUR LIFE.
    During our waiting periods, He is there working on our love for Him and our Faith in Him. Our waiting periods are His ways of drawing us closer to Him , a period of refining us for His greater works, a period of building our confidence in Him, a period of assurance of our Hope in Him; working out things for our good tomorrow.
    Thank you, Pamela, for this upliftment. God is never asleep in our challenges. He is always in control of the affairs of His children, whom He identifies with and calls His Own.

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  14. God is so good! I have had an upsetting day to say the least. When I read your blog, my eyes were opened immediately. God is working behind the scenes and will take care of this situation. Thank you for these encouraging words.

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  15. I couldn’t agree more on your views of meanwhile . Even Jesus had to go through meanwhile.

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  16. Thanks for sharing the words from God.

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  17. Thanks pamela am encouraged to know God is always with me in the meanwhile

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  18. Thank you for reminding me that God is sovereignly working in our meanwhiles to accomplish His good purposes. The world is a scary place much of the time, especially lately. Who can we trust? Who is telling the truth to us? Thank the Lord for His Word, His truth is our anchor in these troubled waters!
    I thank God for the BSF study and for everything He has taught me through it. He has taught me especially to depend upon Him and not allow my circumstances to overwhelm me, by focusin for your devotiong on them. He wants me to listen to Him in my heart and rest in His sovereign care of me and my family. Thank you again.

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  19. Thanks so much.Am encouraged to know meanwhile my God is still working for my future.
    God bless you and family. My faith has been lifted up

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  20. Oh God, you remind me to count my blessings, and BSF truly is one, by getting this article right on time as I wondered on understanding my “meanwhile”.

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  21. Thank you for your encouraging blog this week. It helps me to regain faith in God and not be.upset with myself on my just last week’s very naive and foolish action which I was scammed into. I know that God has used it as a learning experience for me and I do not feel any anger. It is now I need to (in the meanwhile )as in your terminology, I need to wait for God to review His intended lesson for me in this.

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  22. Thank you. Blessings Love & Peace

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  23. Thank you so much fir your “ Meanwhiles”. I have loved my Lord for a long time and know he is in control. Your “Meanwhiles” came as a special note from God to me. I am in crisis #1 while I’m in crisis #2, 3 and 4. I felt I was just existing and not doing anything for the Lord and that doesn’t feel very good. Your message came just when I needed encouragement. I wanted to be doing all these wonderful things for the Lord and even though I know better, I didn’t want all these continuing crisis within crisis. I was thinking yes this is for the Lord too but it doesn’t feel or seem like it and Lord what do you really want me to do? So you see I needed this reminder that this is His will right now and all is unto the Lord. Thank you again and thank you My Savior and Lord.

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  24. Wow! what an awesome attribute of God. A meanwhile is something I will always remember. Thank you.

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    • Thank you for the v inspiring message .👍

      I’m going thro’ this period of ‘meanwhiles’ waiting & not sure what to expect, just praying that the Lord will open the way.

      I’ve to go on with faith & hope & trusting that He will answer
      my prayer.
      Jade

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  25. I am in a”Meanwhile” in my life navigating a family crisis. Thank you for reminding me that God is working while I’m in His waiting room. The study of Genesis this year reminded me over and over again of God’s sovereignty. Meanwhile I will continue to do His work He had called me to no matter the circumstances that grieve me. God bless you in your writing.

    Reply

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