Tell the righteous it will be well with them,
for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.
Woe to the wicked!
Disaster is upon them!
They will be paid back
for what their hands have done. (Isa 3:10-11)
Here’s what I am learning today: What appears to be harsh may not necessarily be so.
It sounded like the Jews of Judah would be utterly destroyed forever.
But the same God who said they would be “paid back,” also said later in Isaiah,
For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with deep compassion I will bring you back.
In a surge of anger
I hid my face from you for a moment,
but with everlasting kindness
I will have compassion on you,”
says the Lord your Redeemer. (Isa 54:7-8)
God didn’t permanently reject his people. But he did allow them to experience the consequences of their choices. They were his beloved children who had strayed away, but he intended for them to come back to him and be gathered into his arms and blessed like never before.
You know, the book of James says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:3-4)
Our trials feel harsh. But James says to be joyful in them, because they are actually for the good.
I was talking with a friend recently, and she told me how she’s the “fixer” in her family. But she’s beginning to realize that sometimes it’s better to not fix things for her family members, that there’s value in letting them learn from their mistakes.
And that is what God wants. He wants us to learn from our mistakes. More than that, he wants us to realize that there’s learning to be had in any situation. Our agenda is to pray and ask him to fix our life right away. But if he did, we would miss the growth. We would miss the lesson of perseverance.
I really think God wants me to get this in my head. After I started writing this blog, I was in my life coaching class telling my instructor how I was trying to help one of my clients come to a solution. My teacher told me that helping the client figure out a solution isn’t always the point. The point is also to help them see that there is value in learning from their struggles. Ack! There it was again! It’s hard for me because, like my friend, I always want to help people fix things!
But even Jesus learned from his struggles. “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8)
And how did Jesus learn? By wrestling in prayer. The Book of Hebrews explains, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” (Heb 5:7)
This verse has to refer to the time when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemene, pouring out his heart to God and begging that the “cup” would be taken away. As Jesus did so, he strengthened his conviction that no matter what, he would do God’s will, not his own.
What if Jesus hadn’t gone to the garden to pray? He wouldn’t have been able to go through with God’s plan. It seemed like a horrible plan, that he would have to be tortured and executed. But we all are the beneficiaries of the plan.
Which brings us back to the original point. What seems harsh may not necessarily be so. There’s value in the learning we can have from the situation. And what seems horrible can lead to good . . . IF we wrestle to submit and have a victory in the testing of our faith.
Oh, how we want to be able to have this victory! And we will, if we remember that the God of Isaiah 3:11 is also the God of Isaiah 54:7-8.
That he’s the God of everlasting kindness.
That he wants to bless us like never before.
That he’s committed to us in love and faithfulness because we are his family.
For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name. (Isa 54:6a)
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (I John 3:1)