Someone once told me that Fridays are not very good days for blogging; that statistically, readership goes down on Friday and the weekend.
Well, today I don't care about statistics. God spoke to my heart this morning and I simply cannot wait until Monday to write about it. Besides, I know God is bigger than statistics and I trust He will bring the reader(s?) to this post who needs the encouragement.
If you have been with me for a while you are likely aware that I am doing a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year program. And, as I do every time I mention this journey, I want to strongly encourage you to begin your own excursion through the Word if you have never done so before. I have found a great resource for finding a reading plan here. Check it out!
So anyway, I am currently in Jeremiah. Right in the midst of Israel and Judah's exiles. There have been several days when Brian walked into the room as I was reading and I made a comment like, "This is not a good day for Israel." (or Judah)
I spent a lot of time reading about their disobedience and wicked ways in Kings and Chronicles; how they turned from the LORD and worshipped false gods. And more recently I have been reading about the destruction God brought upon them because of their sin. They lost their land, were taken captive, and experienced terrible destruction. (You really have to read it!) To say they suffered would be a gross understatement.
But today I read Jeremiah 30 and 31, The Restoration of Israel. There is a stark contrast in the words of these chapters from the words I have been reading recently. It is so clear that, while God was justly punishing Israel for her sin, He still loved His people and the goal of His actions - His discipline - was restoration. Yes, Israel suffered because of her sin, but God always had in mind to bring her back to Himself, to heal her wounds, and to cover her with His love.
I thought that goal was summarized clearly in verse 24 of chapter 30:
The fierce anger of the LORD will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. In days to come you will understand this.
I read that verse and thought, Yes. Israel suffered, but God was accomplishing the purposes of His heart. And the purposes of God's heart are always good, because HE is good.
Then it was as if the last sentence in that verse jumped off the page at me.
In days to come you will understand this.
In days to come you will understand this.
What a wonderful word of encouragement! Can you hear it?
Israel, My beloved people, you have suffered greatly. I have taken you from the land I promised your forefathers and have turned you over to the hands of your enemy. It is because of your sin and detestable practices that I have done this thing. And it was right for Me to do it.
But I will restore you now. I will heal your wounds and bring you close to Myself. I will once again show My love to you. You will turn to Me and leave behind all your detestable ways. You will be My people and I will be your God.
And then you will understand the reason for your suffering. I put you through it, I let you experience the pain so you would remember Me and return to your first love.
It was all for you good, beloved. It was the purpose of My heart. Do you understand now?
As I considered the purposes of God's heart further, my thoughts went to many of you who are suffering. Some of you are struggling with depression, pro-longed waiting, sickness and disease. It is hard and as we have corresponded via email I know you are trying to trust God. You are wanting to believe He is working for your good and His glory. Every time I pray for you and for the end of your suffering, I always also pray that God would work out His good purposes in your situation.
I'm not saying it's a sin issue, as it was with Israel. I realize there are many reasons we suffer. It may be God is growing your faith. He may be strengthening your family relationships. Perhaps He is preparing you for some form of ministry in the future.
I don't know the reason, but as I read my Bible and prayed for you today I asked God to encourage you with the knowledge that "In days to come you will understand this."
Please keep holding on to Him, friend.