In this chapter Welch discusses the “eleventh hour” nature of God’s deliverance — that often God does not deliver us until the odds seem (or even are) insurmountable. He does this “because that is when we are most apt to acknowledge his strong hand alone” (84).
There are three time frames for God’s deliverance that Welch discusses in this chapter.
1. God’s Quiet Care: Deliverance before we know we need it. We must learn to trust that God is always watching over, “always sustaining” us. In less obvious ways he delivers us from stuff we don’t even know is a danger.
2. God’s Eleventh-Hour Deliverance. Here God works outside of the normal rule of his quiet care. Welch lists a number of biblical examples here.
3. God’s Deliverance After Hope Dies. You might have noticed that I barely noted the first two categories above. That’s because this third area is where Welch spends most of the time in the chapter. He says:
Eleventh-hour deliverances, spectacular as they are, were actually just a prelude to something even more dramatic. As you read through Scripture, there is a gradual progression. Initially the deliverances are at the last minute. By the time of the New Testament, they are delayed to the point where even those who are tenacious in clinging to God have lost hope (87).
He talks about the bringing-back-to-life stories in Luke 7 and with Lazarus. This all points toward “the real deliverance” which “was not the manna in the wilderness. but the Bread of Life given for us” (88). Abraham grasped this, as Hebrews 11 says, believing in the power of God to raise his sacrificed son from the dead.
These words sound good — a resurrected son, a much better home — and they were more than enough for Abraham. But they might not seem like enough for you. They may fall short of actual comfort, at least for now (89).
Here Welch explains that we must look to the times God has delivered us past the eleventh hour. He has done so. We must “learn about a new eleventh hour” (90). I wrote in my margin at one point — “a deeper deliverance!”. Welch ends this section, “Those who imitate Abraham faith are always pushing the last minute farther out until it comes even after physical death. Such a person is fearless” (91).
I struggled with this. It did not do much to assuage my fears, because I have often thought about this idea, this “post-eleventh hour” deliverance. And it often makes my fears worse, because I pervert it by thinking, “What if God does_____ or lets me do ______, with the purpose of ‘a deeper deliverance’?” Of course, this is sinful attitude, and a lack of faith, and an imbalanced view of God.
I remember reading a book by Joni Eareckson Tada. She, in some of her dark moments, said she just repeated to herself the paradoxical truth–“God is sovereign. God is good.” When I read things like this chapter on God’s deeper purposes, I can often lose sight of the goodness of his character. He is the King and my Father.
I pray that my heart might continually feel the truth of God’s character, demonstrated in his past faithfulness.
Welch ends the chapter on a personal response, with these appropriate words, which I pray that I can mean all the time:
Say it: “Lord, I trust you.”