I’m Not Going Back
14All the officers of the priests and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations. And they polluted the house of the LORDthat he had made holy in Jerusalem. 15The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. 16But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORDrose against his people, until there was no remedy.
—2 Chronicles 36:14-16
We all have difficult times. There are seasons of life when things do not go our way. It would be easy to think God has abandoned us and somehow doesn’t love us enough to lift us out of the mess. We want to turn our lives around and go back to some happier time.
But we’re not going back. In every such circumstance and consequence of poor choices is divine intentionality. God intends it! God’s purpose in every hardship is for us to be perfected and growing in our knowledge of who He is and in the practice of living as His people.
This was the experience of the nation of Israel. By 586 BC the people of God had sunk to an all-time low. The land, capital city, and their beloved temple were in ruins. The best of their people were either killed or carried off into exile at the hands of a ruthless foreign king. For seventy years they sat learning a hard lesson about the consequences of sin and what it means to hear God's voice and know His perfecting love.
Their failure was complete, but because of God’s covenant with them, their restoration would be amazing. God would use those long years in exile to turn failure into faithfulness. And they would never choose to go back. The benefits of enduring and having a stronger faith and knowing the love of God in this way far outweighed the suffering they faced. If they had gone back to a happier time, they would have missed this blessing!
The Old Testament books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, as well as Haggai, tell us the story of a people rebuilding their relationship with God in worship and their relationship with one another in community after learning some hard lessons about both. It is an encouraging message of covenantal love, of faithfulness, and of hope in the midst of trial.
We can learn a lot from these books about how to view trials in our lives. We must realize God still uses circumstances to cause us to cry out to Him. But God will be forever faithful in the midst of our failures. As a matter of fact, He will use those very failures to eventually bless us as we acknowledge the need for complete dependence on Him. We can experience anything filled with hope and assurance as we rest in a God who is in control of all of life’s happenings and circumstances. We can trust him. He loves us.—Todd Dugard
Prayer – Almighty Father, You do control all of what is happening in my life, and in the lives of those I love. Sometimes it all seems very out of control and overwhelming. Help me to trust that You truly use every single circumstance in our lives to fulfill Your purposes for You glory, even when I don’t see it. Forgive me for my doubt, and help me cling to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.