What now? That is one of the scariest questions I know. It is usually asked after something terrible happens – a car wreck, a natural disaster, a presidential election gone wrong. It is a question that is asked because the answer is not immediately apparent. People ask what now because they don’t know what to do next. People ask what now when they’ve run out of options. The only thing scarier than asking such a question is receiving silence as a response.
I wonder who was the first person on the ark to ask: “What now?” The rain had stopped but the water remained (verse 2). It was just eight people and tons of animals in one huge boat. There was only water as far as the eye could see. What were Noah and his family to do now, besides wait?
Months and months went by before the water had receded enough for the tops of the mountains to peek out (verse 5). More months passed and finally the ground was dry.
Imagine the mixed emotions Noah and his family felt as they at last left the ark. Relief at being able to breathe fresh air? Despair as they thought of all of the friends and other family members they had lost? Gratefulness over being alive? Whatever their exact emotions, Noah and his family expressed themselves by sacrificing burnt offerings to God. As God smelled the burning sacrifice, He vowed never to cause such destruction on the Earth again (verse 21-22). The flood was over. The earth was dry. Here comes that question again – what now?
The Treasures Within
And Now We Wait
I don’t think anyone likes to wait. Waiting in line, waiting for food, waiting for someone to arrive – there’s something in us that bristles when we have to do these things. We prefer to have what we want when we want it. So if waiting for small things is so hard, imagine waiting for the day your life starts back again. Imagine waiting for all of that water – more than they’d ever seen before in their lives – to go away. Verse 1 says that “God remembered” Noah and his family and the animals – imagine feeling as if God had forgotten you.
We don’t know how Noah and his family dealt with all of that waiting. Did they argue about whether or not God had left them? Did any of them lose faith and need to be comforted? Did any of them shout at Noah when he was sending out birds and tell him it was pointless?
Whatever happened on that boat, the sheer attempt at looking for dry ground showed that Noah still had faith that God would bring the flood to an end. If Noah had given up, he wouldn’t have been searching earnestly for signs of hope. He would have concluded that death on the boat was inevitable and sat down to wait for it. But Noah didn’t do that. Not only did he send a raven out, (verse 7) but even when that bird returned with nothing he waited some more and tried again – twice! Noah trusted God. He knew that God would do what He had said – it was only a matter of time.
A Present Day Ark
Noah doesn’t have a monopoly on waiting – we all have waited or are waiting in some way or shape or form for God to do something in our lives. We all have an “ark” that we are waiting inside. Maybe we are waiting in the ark of disease, trying not to lose hope that God will heal us. Maybe we are waiting in the ark of singleness (can I get a witness??), praying that God will send us someone to walk through life with. Maybe we are waiting in the ark of unemployment and asking “What now?” after sending out applications to every opening possible. Even if we have no other arks, every single one of us remains in the ark of this earth, waiting for Jesus to come back and start our lives over again.
Waiting sucks, but like Noah, we mustn’t lose hope. Noah was on the ark for almost a year (verse 13). He was with only seven other people, who probably worked his nerves to the bone. He was surrounded by animals, which probably didn’t smell great. He was constantly confronted with the knowledge that he was one of only eight people left alive on the entire earth. Yet God kept this man sane. He kept this man strong. He gave this man hope. If God could do that for Noah within his ark, why on earth would He not do it for you and me?
God’s Message To Us
“This too shall pass.” There will never be a time in our lives when everything is perfect. There’s always something to hurt us or worry us, frustrate our plans or knock us off of our feet. Those dark moments of our lives can feel so isolated. How can anyone really understand what we’re feeling? If we tried to talk to someone about what we’re going through, they might not care. Or they might try to “fix” things instead of listen. Or they might listen for just a short time before changing the subject.
There’s no perfect person to turn to when life turns against us – except for Jesus. Truly. He gets us – He understands us more than we understand ourselves. There are no secrets with Him. He loves us, intensely. He has all the power in the world – to change our situation or even just to change our perspective on it. And He is the best listener – He doesn’t judge us or think less of us because of what we’re feeling. There is nothing more comforting in a difficult situation than hunkering down with Jesus. He’ll hold us, understand us, and whisper to us “this too shall pass”. And then waiting won’t be so bad. After all, how can you hate waiting, when you wait with a Friend?
There Are Always Questions
- In verses 21 and 22, God says that He will never again “destroy all living creatures” and that life and its seasons will go on as expected as long as the earth remains. Yet, the main thing that we all are looking forward to, the Second Coming, requires that living creatures be destroyed. In fact, one of the big points of the Flood seems to be to point forward to this future destruction. God can’t be lying. The point of these verses seems to be that “as long as the earth endures” God won’t destroy all living creatures, but when He does destroy sinners in the last days it will technically be at the end of the world. If so, why use these words specifically to make this promise? Why is this promise so important anyway?
What do you think? What “ark” are you waiting for God to rescue you from? What message do you think God has for you in this chapter?