For I, the Eternal, love justice. I hate stealing and all manner of wrongdoing. In faithfulness to those who do justice, I promise they will be rewarded for their work; and I will establish an everlasting covenant with them. Furthermore, I will promise them My support for their children, so that all nations and everyone around will see that they are the children blessed by the Eternal God. – Isaiah 61:8-9 (The Voice)
I couldn’t figure out why everything she touched turned to gold and I seemed to just be, well…suffering.
She chose the panel with a million dollars behind it every time and I always chose the one with a penny.
She would have unsolicited job offers land on her lap and I would fight hand, tooth, and nail to get even just one.
Her husband was her college sweetheart and they lived in complete happiness and joy. Pretty much always.
The thing is, I love her dearly. She’s a good friend of mine. I asked God to examine my heart and reveal if there was any unconfessed jealousy going on.
“I don’t understand why I keep experiencing really traumatic stuff and she has never walked through anything even remotely close,” I lamented to Him on an evening of particular frustration.
In essence, again, it’s the whole “But, why?” question.
At the time, He revealed to me that our stories are precisely that – ours. Hers is hers and mine is mine and they’re not going to look the same because we weren’t put on this earth for the same purpose. God creates each of us to fulfill a purpose that only we can fulfill and no one else.
“Stop looking sideways and start looking up,” He revealed.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:1
Apparently, the work He prepared for me to do involves a bit of suffering to get the job done right. But there’s hope.
In Verse Eight, God tells us directly that He “love justice.” In just the verse prior, He also says that “you will inherit a double portion of prosperity and everlasting joy.”
He’s not messing around with the justice thing – there are over 55 verses in the Bible that involve this topic alone.
And just to clarify, when I think of “justice” I think of those who are defending the case of the orphan and pleading the case of the widow.
Which IS justice – but not the “only” type of justice. In some ways, it can simply be doing what is honorable and fair. And God loves that.
He also goes on to state that He “hates stealing and all wrongdoing” but will reward those who, in faithfulness, act justly – and their children will be as well.
This week while studying these two scriptures, it came to me that suffering is inevitable. In fact, we are told it WILL happen at some point. (Yes, even to my friend I discussed earlier.)
It’s what we DO with the suffering that matter to Him.
Do we take-on a “woe is me” heart and complain constantly and become “Debbie Downer”? Do we become bitter? Do we refuse to trust ever again and therefore not allow others to get too close because by golly, we just won’t let that happen again now, will we?
No. He wants us to take our suffering and wrap it up in a package of justice. He wants us to make it honorable and fair.
He wants us to use it because it’s part of the work He prepared in advance for us to do.
It’s part of our story, sisters.
So it’s with complete truth that I tell you that I’m quite grateful for “The Year of Hell on Earth”- what I affectionately like to call the year of 2001.
I can assure you I wouldn’t believe what I do today without the events that led to that hell on earth.
He leaves nothing in vain. If we walk through the fire and become so refined in the process (and we will if we follow Him) He plans for us to use it for His glory.
He wants the glory because every good and perfect gift comes from above. (James 1:17) To not give Him the glory would be like me taking the words of Ann Voskamp, claiming them as my own, then accepting the enthusiastic praise of others without correcting.
Not to mention that when we glorify Him, when we share stories and say things like “by the grace of God” or “glory to God”, we are showing others the healing redemption that can only come from Christ.
And that, my friends, is the most effective form of evangelism on the planet.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4
What are your thoughts on this or anything else that surfaced for you during the week?
(And you don’t have to be an “official” part of the group to comment and add your thoughts – we want to hear from you!)