Articles

Reach Out Columbia Magazine April 2013 Round Table, pp 18-19

Will a mighty movement of God come to the midlands?
Part I – A divine desperation

By Tim Hanley

“You will be completely blind by the time you are 40.” These words from my ophthalmologist in 1993 struck fear in my heart. I knew I was rapidly losing my peripheral vision, but to go totally blind in the next year or two? Depression quickly turned to desperation. I wept. I cried out to God. I fasted and prayed. Many others joined me. I went to my elders, and they anointed me with oil and cried out to God with me. Our desperation preceded a movement of God in our lives.

Today, the church in the Midlands is also in a desperate situation. We are suffering from depression. We are anemic, weak, and impotent. We expect few conversions. Family and societal degradation don’t surprise us. Many church members just go through the motions on Sunday morning. We don’t expect the Holy Spirit to show up and transform our lives, our churches, or our culture.

To help you realize just how serious this is, let me ask you a few questions: Do you expect to see the Holy Spirit work powerfully in your life this week? Do you expect your local church to gather in mighty prevailing prayer to bring about many conversions this year? Do you expect to see marriages and families healed? Do you expect to experience such a supernatural work of God that the Midlands is radically changed?

Without God’s intervention, we are doomed. To experience a powerful work of God, believers must have a divine desperation. Biblically and historically, divine desperation has always been the precursor to every mighty movement of God.

Divine desperation is an intense grief over the sleepy status quo of God’s people. It includes a willingness to pay any cost for the people of God to be saturated with the Spirit of God. Nehemiah experienced this divine desperation, and it paved the way for a mighty movement of God in Jerusalem in 444 BC.

Nehemiah was a key advisor to the king of Persia when his brother came to visit. He brought terrible news about Jerusalem—the walls were burned with fire and the city was unfortified. Nehemiah was devastated. “I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” (Neh. 1:4)

His divine desperation began with lamentation and humiliation. Many of God’s people in Persia heard the same news about the walls in Jerusalem, but only Nehemiah was moved by God to mourning and humiliation. Nehemiah understood that business as usual was not going to restore Jerusalem’s glory. Business as usual in the church in the Midlands means that the church will continue to follow the culture down a slippery slope of moral and spiritual decline.

Like Nehemiah, we must also experience the type of lamentation and humiliation that leads to costly supplication. Supplication is pouring out our hearts to God, because He is our only hope. Nehemiah fasted and prayed for days in sorrow and repentance over the sins of God’s people that led to the destruction of Jerusalem’s walls (Neh. 1:5-7). His mind, heart, and will were broken.

Nehemiah’s supplication was costly. Many today pray for revival, but few pay the cost of revival praying. Revival praying is sacrificially gathering with others who will fast and pray until the people of God are saturated again with the Spirit of God. We must have this divine desperation that results in costly supplication if the church of the Midlands is to experience a movement of God that will transform our community. Nehemiah’s costly supplication lasted four months (Neh. 1:1; 2:1), but his divine desperation did not end there. His supplication led to expectation.

Nehemiah expected God to move, and He did. When the king of Persia asked Nehemiah about his sad countenance, Nehemiah had a ready explanation and a plan. He shared with the king the state of his hometown and gave the king his plan to restore the walls.  He even asked for the king’s authorization and financial help (Neh. 2:5-8). After four months of costly supplication, Nehemiah expected God to change the heart of the king—the same king who had commanded the work to stop in Jerusalem years before (Ezra 4:23).

Nehemiah believed that his divine desperation to see the return of the Lord’s glory to his people in Jerusalem would result in a movement of God. Do you expect God to move powerfully in His church again? Do you hope for a movement of God in the Midlands, or do you expect a movement of God in the Midlands? Divine desperation results in a divine expectation that God is going to move. This expectant faith pleases the heart of God (Heb. 11:6).

Lamentation, humiliation, supplication, expectation. Nehemiah’s divine desperation indeed was costly, but it resulted in a great celebration. Against all odds the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt in 52 days under Nehemiah’s leadership (Neh. 6:15). His divine desperation had birthed a major movement of God. Similarly, there will be no movement of God in the Midlands unless God’s people experience this same divine desperation.

How do we get this divine desperation?  We ask God for it. As the Holy Spirit exposes our unbelief and complacency, we run to the river of Jesus. As the Lord God continues to pour his wrath on our culture (Rom. 1:18-32), we run to the river of Jesus.

As in Nehemiah’s day, we need divine desperation to run, personally and corporately, to the river of Jesus. He is our only hope. We must cry out to Him, individually and in prayer groups, and ask that, in His wrath, He would be merciful (Hab. 3:2). We must cry out to Him as the psalmist did, “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?” (Ps. 85:6).

In 1993, my oncoming blindness gave my friends and me a divine desperation. We cried, we fasted, and we kept running to the river of Jesus. Many joined us. The Lord God met us and moved in a miraculous way. We experienced a personal movement of God that brought Him much glory. Almost twenty years later, I still have ten degrees of good central vision.

Now, however, many other brothers and sisters in Christ and I have our eyes trained on a greater movement of God in this area—one that will not only transform the church of the Midlands, but the entire Midlands—all for the glory of Jesus. But it will not happen without this divine desperation.

Without it, we are doomed.

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Special thanks to Rev. Al Baker of Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship and Dr. Henry Krabbendam of Covenant College, who planted many of the seeds for this article.

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