Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Rejoicing Through Pain

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
    and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
    and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
    and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
    I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
    He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
    able to tread upon the heights. 
Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NLT)

The struggle is real, happening daily, sometimes hourly. It may be self-inflicted or circumstantial. Worldly trials, problems, life on earth, sin—call it what you may, but it’s historical, factual, real-life, and downright devastating. It all began in the heart of man. 

In the beginning, God created everything and it was good. God even made man in His own image, creating male and female. He placed Adam and Eve in a lush garden, surrounded by beauty, providing for every need. He communicated a command to His human creation while also allowing them the choice of obedience or disobedience. Then the battle within the heart of mankind emerged.

Evil enticement entered Eden, the exquisite garden of God. Satan raised a question concerning God’s authority and His command. The woman questioned God’s instruction. The man failed to stand firm on God’s word. The choice of disobedience compromised God’s extravagant goodness. 

The creatures thought the good that God supplied wasn’t good enough—His children wanted more! Beguiling lawlessness, desiring eyes, conflicting minds, and rebellious hearts drove them to wickedness. The Heavenly Father yearned for obedience from His children while Satan used cunning to deceive them. The choice—disobedience and sin, followed by punishment. 

Yet, AND THIS IS HUGE, yet God provided for His creation, for Adam and Eve, for you and me. His love allowed choice and His mercy (not punishing us as our sins deserve) extended grace (blessing us despite the fact that we do not deserve it). He mercifully delivered us from judgment and graciously extended His kindness to our unworthy souls. He planned a way of salvation through His son, Jesus Christ. On a Roman cross, He took all our sins upon Himself and granted us His goodness and righteousness. What kind of God does that for His creation? A good God does—the one and only God of salvation, Jesus Christ.

After choosing sin, Adam and Eve struggled with life’s trials (Genesis 3:16-18), yet God provided (Genesis 3:18-19). After choosing rebellion, the prodigal struggled with life’s challenges (Luke 15:13-16), yet his father instantly forgave and blessed him when he returned home and repented (Luke 15:22-24). If your choice of disobedience (and we all sin at some point in our lives) has you constantly struggling with life’s troubles, you are not alone. Your failure to obey your Heavenly Father is not final—He extends His mercy and grace to you. All you need to do is repent of your sin and receive His gracious gift. It’s your choice. He stands ready to welcome you home. 

Your circumstances may look dreadful, your life may be devastating, and your situation may be desperate, but God is faithful, He is forgiving, He is gracious, and He is good! He loved you enough to die for you. He will enter your hell on earth and extend His abundant and eternal life to your repentant heart. Rejoice in this kind of merciful and gracious God! He is the loving God of salvation!

And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. Genesis 3:17 (NLT)

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)

Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12 (NLT)

Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.  John 10:6-10 (NLT)

I have heard all about you, Lord.
    I am filled with awe by your amazing works.
In this time of our deep need,
    help us again as you did in years gone by.
And in your anger,
    remember your mercy. 
Habakkuk 3:1-2 (NLT)

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