Is it just me, or does it seem like more and more friends, family and acquaintances are dealing with much more serious struggles? Sickness, disease, financial woes, relational or occupational set backs seem to be increasing for so many. Some of these difficulties are self-induced, but others are brought on by our living in a sinful world. My care and concern can cause me to become distressed on their behalf (as if my own challenges were not enough!) I admit sometimes I want to go back into my turtle shell and hide from these serious things.
But, that is not what the Holy Spirit wants us to do. He wants us to run to the challenge and engage in the battle. When we feel chaos around us is attempting to overtake us, we must remember God has given the voice to speak peace to the storms.
We must remember that even the “self-induced” struggles–brought on by sinful choices can be used by the Lord for good as repentance takes place. My daily Bible reading brought me to Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church this week. Part of Paul’s first letter to these brothers and sisters dealt with divisions, sexual sin, pride and how to deal with legal disputes. He used very clear exhortation of how they (we) should be living.
By 2 Corinthians 7:10 he shares the wonderful fruit of his words. He spoke into the chaos that was trying to reign in that church and here is his response. Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. Bu those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.
And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you’ve come out of this with purity of heart. And that is what I was hoping for in the first place when I wrote the letter. My primary concern was not for the one who did the wrong or even the one wronged, but for you–that you would realize and act upon the deep, deep ties between us before God. That’s what happened–and we felt just great.
Speaking the truth in love can be stressful and cause us distress. My question to each of us: do you speak the truth in love to yourself? How do you react to God’s voice of conviction or re-direction? Do you beat yourself up? Or do you walk in His grace, forgiveness and mercy. We are called to be merciful. That means to ourselves as well. Let us practice mercy on ourselves. Changing where needed, of course, but as we respond to His love, we will be modeling to others that Love and Care He has for them.
Father help us walk in your peace. Help us to speak peace in the midst of our own chaos and find your direction and blessing. Thank you for the gift of your forgiveness and mercy, help us share it with others. In Jesus Name, amen