Change By Degrees

Deuteronomy 7:22 “And the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you little by little….”

We want change and we want it now! It’s a sentiment we’ve all experienced at one time or another. Whether in recovering from an illness, struggling in a relationship, or in how we see the direction of the country going, we abhor waiting. We long to “turn the corner,” not shift by degrees. But most change in life occurs slowly, by degrees.

And there is reason for it…

The waiting seasons in our lives give us opportunity to cultivate trust in God. And trust is a big deal, because without trust, we can never grow in the fullness of walking with him.  According to Psalm 50, God prefers we trust him in our troubles over any sacrifice we might make. Trust indicates we love God more than we love our own thinking. It says we are willing to do life his way rather than our way because we believe he knows best and has our best in mind. Facing “change by degrees” provides the perfect place for us to practice trust.

During my recent illness, I was struck by comments like, “You look a lot better.” “Your voice sounds so much stronger.”  I wasn’t feelin’ it. Aside from the fact that a week in the hospital without washing my hair was a pretty low bar of comparison, I had a hard time thinking I looked better when I still felt bad. Although I knew I was gaining strength each day, my recovery was taking far longer than I anticipated. So it felt like no progress was occurring.

Not recognizing the “degrees of change” pushes us into discouragement. Whether recuperating from a sickness or persevering in praying for what seems like a lost cause, we must learn to fully rely on God in the process. Are we going to trust him with the whole thing or delegate the timing to ourselves?

When Israel entered the Promised Land God warned them their enemies would be driven out “little by little,” not all at once. Victory in increments—by degrees—would forge them into the nation he wanted them to be.

Let’s not get bogged down when our victories and changes come by degrees. Rather, let’s embrace the opportunity to trust in God’s way. In God’s purpose. In God’s time.

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