one thing i love about being a Christian, about being a part of the body of Christ is that we are never, ever alone. God not only provides us with other believers who surround us (and who we’re able to surround) with love, friendship, support, and prayer…. but, He has also given us the Holy Spirit. It’s a like an inner best friend who is with you always… who prays for you, who guides you, who “fusses” at and convicts you when you are verring from the path you should go.
He’s given us Jesus…… the one who petitions on our behalf, the one who honored His father until death for our sakes, the one who is the perfect example of what love in action truly looks like.
this life can be so painful…. it can leave you feeling lonely and broken and depleted. But, I’m thankful that God is a redeemer. I’m thankful that He can restore and heal.
I’m thankful for the many examples of others he has set before us that remind and encourage us to remain steadfast in our faith and trust in Him. Because, it’s hard. Because it takes a strength that we don’t possess naturally. Because this lilfe is out of our hands.
A few of my favorite redemption stories is the one of Joseph. Ups and downs, lies and betrayals, yet he still trusted God and honored him in each position he found himself in. I can’t imagine how broken and hurt his heart was on so many of the circumstances he put himself in and no matter how frustrated or angry he was, he trusted God. ACTIVELY. He didn’t act out in his frustrations, he didn’t seek vengeance, he didn’t quit doing what was right. God restored his family, redeemed the time he spent isolated and in prison. God had a purpose and plan for his life. He couldn’t have seen how being sold by his brother would be GOOD for him and the Israelites, he couldn’t have seen how being lied on and thrown in prison would be GOOD for him and how he would literally save millions of people from starvation just by being obedient. He had no idea how his faithfulness and obedience would encourage me.
Let’s not talk about Job…… I love how he complained and fussed to God and God basically told him “recognize who you’re talking to…” Job trusted God when his life and health crumbled FOR NO REASON other than to be sifted, other than to be tempted by the Devil for his own sick entertainment…. But, through the emotional turmoil and depression he continued to seek God. He stayed in His face. And, God honored him for it. Restored, redeemed, and healed. For whose sake?
Hosea…. who I know was sick and tired of having to be the “good husband”. Tired of dealing with his wandering spouse who so blatantly disrespected and disregarded him and their marriage. Publicly. I know he was tired of being loving and gracious and kind to her. I know he wanted to quit. But, this story to closely resembles what Christ has done and continues to do for us daily…. how often does God rescue us, how often do we come back to him broken and hurting after disobeying? How many times does he have to forgive and cover us with mercy and grace? and, HOW does He do it every.single.time? And, who does this selfless love benefit?
The patience, quiet spirit, and obedience of Ester and Ruth.
The triumph and fall, the waywardness and steadfastness of David.
The rebellion of Jonah.
The friendship and betrayal of Judas.
All for a purpose. All honor God. All turn our attention to Christ. All make us marvel and the goodness of our God.
The struggles of this life aren’t for nothing. Yes, while they make us stronger in our faith and in our ability to persevere which builds our character and gives us hope (Romans 5:4), our stories, our faithfulness, our obedience is for the Body, as well. We are all connected and we effect each other in every way.
While this life isn’t easy, while we will have to endure setbacks, failures, the consequences of poor choices, and just sometimes the sovereign plan of God that puts us in difficult places – we know that will get through it, we know that it is purposeful, and that it will honor God in some way.
My dad used to always tell me “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” I had no idea what that meant. Mainly because, looking back, I had no idea who good obeying is for you. Even when you’d rather be doing something else much more fun and enjoyable, even when it goes against every fiber in of your (naturally sinful) heart, and you don’t see the purpose. The learned discipline is good for you. I’m glad I see that now. Glad I understand from experience on both sides how when we obey we are truly positioning ourselves for the best possible outcome.
(Sidebar, which truly frustrates me about today’s children… some have no idea how to obey. how to follow rules. how to do what they’re told….. how can they obey and learn to yield to God when they can’t obey their teachers and parents? It’s GOOD for your children to have rules and boundaries… to learn discipline and hard work. They’re going to be someone’s husband and wife and mother and father one day……… NO ONE LIKES adults who have no self control, no concern for others, and can’t do what NEEDS to be done (i.e.. LAZY!). Give your children some chores that MUST be done, don’t let them quit because “they don’t want to anymore”, don’t excuse their behavior, blame others for their wrong doings, or let them get away with not obeying because you want them to be happy. We all want our children to be happy, no ones likes to see their children cry… however, Hebrews 12:11….. discipline benefits children and all of those who will be surrounded by them for the duration of their life…… rant concluded.)
Redemption, restoration, healing, and the overwhelming joy we experience on the other side of difficulty is encouraging. KNOWING what’s promised and what’s coming is worth enduring whatever is put in front of us.
It’s not easy but it sure is worth it.