The last year and a half has been a whirlwind of highs and lows.
We saw our daughter marry, our youngest son graduate college, and our oldest son completely change career paths, setting his sights on moving away in just a week.
In and outside our family, we’ve seen beauty and brokenness.
Relationships flourish, even be restored, and relationships end.
Health restored and health fail.
Plans come to pass and plans be turned upside down.
And sometimes, the roller coaster of happiness and weariness has felt overwhelming.
Oh how I love those two words that hold such truth! For in them is abiding joy…regardless.
His call is to lay down our burdens. He may not always give the answers we want, but He will BE our peace and He will give us rest.
How many times have we watched things happen out of our control, have we or someone we love been hurt by another, or known what God was asking us to do and yet our response has been a whiney, “But, God….” And, in that moment, we are that petulant child – quite sure we know better how we would “fix” situations or how we believe we should respond to hard people and life with its occasional (that sometimes feel more like routine) curveballs.
But it is in that moment that, if we will be still and listen and not harden our hearts, we will hear the Spirit of God speak to our hearts and remind us that He isn’t surprised and He actually is doing things we cannot see. And because of that we can say in a different tone, “Yes, this…”
He may be disciplining us, His beloved children, who often need a reset but sometimes fail to see it.
He may be chipping away at ours or someone else’s self-satisfaction or self-rule.
He may be preparing something far greater for us than we can know or begin to imagine.
He may be teaching us to die to self.
He may be using circumstances and even wounds from others to make us more like Himself and able to empathize with another, help another heal, or show the same grace and mercy we have been given.
There are a myriad of ways that He uses the most difficult of circumstances for His glory and our good.
So He calls us to “not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
We have the privilege, the responsibility, and the power as children of God to not grow weary as we pray, as we choose obedience to God even when our flesh cries out to do it our way or respond in like kind, as we re-format our thinking by changing what we put in and what we dwell on, as we speak words of life and truth as well as setting forth an attitude of joy that is not dependent on circumstances or trusting man but is rooted and grounded in trusting our Sovereign God. Our lives can grow chaotic and we may feel out of control.
And now we watch our nation struggle as if it rocks on the edge of a precipice. If all we watched were the sensationalized news/talk shows, we would think there was no hope, that all consideration of unity and peace is but a vapor, a dream that has died.
He is not wringing His hands over or bound by angry mobs, insidious plans, self-loving talking heads, rabble-rousing “inciters,” corrupt and conniving people in authority.
In little pockets all over the country, there is a quiet rumble of those who will not be manipulated into hate. Instead, they are reaching across imaginary lines drawn by the enemy of our souls who seeks to divide and conquer; to steal, kill, and destroy not just here on earth but for eternity. (John 10:10) And, in those pockets, the love and grace of God is being poured out; for we, His image bearers, are able to love and forgive because HE first loved us. And it is what He commands His people to do – over and above what we, in our flesh, want to do at times. Even those who do not acknowledge Him bear His image because He is Creator; though they mar that image as they exalt themselves. The powers that desire division want to stamp out hope.
He is Hope!
He is Healer of the broken-hearted and sin scarred. Those living in shame and regret need not anymore.
He is Restorer of the breaches. He is able to repair what the enemy of our souls has broken down.
He is the Mighty One, able to save and redeem, but also Mighty to judge and bring true justice.
His judgment may just be to lead us to repentance rather than judgment so we must hear His voice and let Him devastate our self-rule and, in humility, say, “Speak Lord, I am listening…create in me a clean heart oh God, and renew a right spirit within me…search me and know me; see if there is any wicked way in me…(Psalm 51 and 139) and transform me God!”
Yes, let it begin with me!
An often heard and argued verse from God’s Word is just an echo of His grace: “If God’s people who are called by His name will humble themselves and pray and turn from their (own) wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven…and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 Is He bound to show us mercy? Of course not. His judgment may be for destruction. But, He commands His people who are called by His name, that’s me, that’s you – individual believers who so often look at the “bigger” sins of those around us with a shaking head yet coddle our own rebellion against God, justifying our own pet sins. He has promised that if we cherish sin in our hearts (be it an attitude or action), He will not hear us (Psalm 66:18) But, if we will humble ourselves and turn, He has promised to listen. All we are responsible for is obedience to Him.
We’ve been a nation divided before. Yes, there was a remnant of noble men and women, but there were also many who wanted to destroy; the spirit of lawlessness appeared to have taken over.
It was He who changed hearts and minds and brought reconciliation and healing where there was none and no one believed it would ever be so.
It was He who transformed souls by His grace and brought revival to a thirsty land.
It is in our arrogance that we would deem to exactly know the mind of God, to throw up our hands in resignation and say, “We might as well admit it – all is lost” when God says pray, repent, live before God and man righteously with His grace, His peace, and His love, speak truth in a way that draws men to Himself and restores lives!
What we do know is that He is merciful to us when we don’t deserve it so who are we to think He might not yet relent, soften hard hearts, take the scales from blind eyes, and redeem this rebellious generation! He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can think or ask.
And because He is…we can have HOPE, we can choose JOY!
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And HOPE does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5