Inspiration

Greater Outcomes

Blog_CaveWaterfallWhen Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers, it must have seemed impossible to believe any good could come from it. When he was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, the thought of God redeeming his circumstances surely seemed a distant dream. And when his only two friends forgot him in that jail cell, Joseph could easily have given up all hope.

But at some point in his endlessly nightmarish story, Joseph learned something that sustained him to the turning-point.

God is a God of greater outcomes.

Joseph emerged from nearly fourteen years of bondage with a faith stronger and more certain than he started out with. Beyond his confinement, he found not only the fulfillment of his dreams but the enduring faithfulness of God to redeem any circumstance for measureless good.

When his guilty brothers came to him in time of famine, Joseph could easily have poured out the full measure of vengeance. Instead, he spoke these words: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people” (Genesis 50:20).

This hour in which we live is one of inexplicable darkness. We live in a world where the ravages of sin plague every corner of existence. Violence, sickness and calamity strive to rule our days. And in the thick of the chaos, we cry out for some glimpse of good, some sign of God’s intervention.

How could a greater outcome emerge from this current pandemic?

This is the realm in which only the God of the impossible can work his greatest wonders.

In Joseph’s situation, human free-will and the brokenness of nature were allowed to run their course to a near-dismal end. A brother in slavery. A family in crisis. A world in famine. Nothing can shroud the suffering Joseph went through, but nothing can veil the glorious outcome.

And so it is today. Nothing can shroud the lives lost in this horrific time. But that doesn’t negate the truth that good can and will inevitably emerge, in its time.

I recently read that every year, over 4.5 million people die from complications resulting directly from air pollution. Some have estimated that with major cities on quarantine, the decrease in air pollution could save possibly hundreds of thousands more lives than have been lost through the current pandemic.

And what IF. What if someone or multiple someones had been plotting mass shootings or other acts of terrorism in the near future, which are now thwarted with no large crowds to target? We may never know.

And these are only possible physical outcomes. What about families once broken, now drawing together and irreversibly strengthened through hours alone, together? And workaholics on the brink of heart-attack or worse, now forced to slow down and breathe?

But I would say that God is into even greater outcomes than these. Because this imperfect world is not our home, and maybe we’re finally coming to realize that. Maybe this shaking is truly an awakening that will at last open blind eyes to see the things of earth are not our end goal. Salvation and eternal life are found in one who suffered far greater injustices than Joseph, with far greater outcomes.

Maybe multitudes of treasured souls will find enduring hope and everlasting life, which far outweighs anything this world can bring.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 2:7-9)

 

Photo Credit: Waterfall from a Cave @ goodfreephotos.com

Hope’s Victory

Spring_SunriseTreesThe streets were eerily empty as I walked my dog today. Save for the hopeful songs of a few lone, rebel birds, the silence calmed as the sunset shed golden light on the trees, unrelenting in glory despite its lack of audience.  It would almost have felt peaceful, if not for the pandemic behind it all.

My dog pulled me along, grateful to be the beneficiary of extra long walks during this unusual season. And as she did, I caught sight of something that nearly slipped by unnoticed. Tiny buds pushing through branches of the bushes lining our walkway announced the arrival of another season that entered uncelebrated amidst the current plague of unwelcome news.

Spring.

It arrived humbly, almost forgotten though so anticipated after the relentless winter. Shrouded by the pall of a world of uncertainty, spring came with a gentle reminder. Hope lives on after the coldest and bleakest of seasons.

Could it be that there will be such a glory to follow this time of worldwide grief?

While it may seem that nothing could soon out-measure the loss so many are now experiencing, hope is waiting to emerge. Just as winter births the beauty of spring, this hour of difficulty will bring forth something inexplicably beautiful, in its time.

While uncertainty claws at us, fierce and persistent, spring reminds us of a greater certainty behind it all. The sun continues to rise and set, as promised from the beginning. And winter gives way to spring despite the surrounding opposition. Flowers will yet bloom. Brown grass will soon awaken in glorious green splendor. Barren trees will unveil branches adorned with fruit.

Certainly if a season harsh as winter can yield the unhindered allure of spring, God can take the most hopeless ashes of our lives and fashion something of immense beauty.

So be of good courage and look beyond what your eyes see today. Spring has broken through and will continue to make its mark despite the overwhelming decay that seems to have overtaken our world. You will see goodness come from the tribulations of today, and our trials of now will seem light and momentary compared to the glory that “far outweighs them all.”

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:13-14)

Thanksgiving Comes First

Blog_AutumnLeavesThe last of the leaves take their final stand against the impending cold. Soon, the branches will be empty, the ground paved with a glittery blanket of snow. Autumn’s season of beauty and death is coming to a close. In its midst—Thanksgiving.

Before holiday revelers haul out the holly, trim trees, and haunt the malls, Thanksgiving comes, quiet and gentle. Before gifts are exchanged, Thanksgiving. And before the clock turns to welcome a new year—Thanksgiving.

We want to skip the season of death—when color is gone and trees, barren. The rush of the holiday season promises to suppress the feeling of loss. Deals at the stores await, beckoning us to forget. Maybe we just need someTHING new, someTHING tangible, someTHING to hold our attention captive. Or maybe we just need a whole new year.

But Thanksgiving comes first, putting everything into perspective if only we still our souls to listen and learn the secret.

Death becomes a thing of beauty. We’re able to let go, no longer needing to fill the empty spaces with the latest and greatest distraction to hit the holiday shelves. We no longer need to wait for a New Year for change to come.

Gratitude reminds us that we have all we need. It tells us that loss brings life. It leads us to transform in the glory of knowing God’s mercies are new EVERY morning.

The holiday season is upon us. And Thanksgiving comes first…as it always has, and as it always should.

The Most Hopeless Pieces

A skilled artist can transform the most useless items into something of matchless worth. And that’s what our loving God is able to do with the most hopeless pieces of our lives.

 

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Seen.

If you feel forgotten, know that there is a God whose name is El Roi, “the God who sees me.” When no one else sees. When no one else cares to see. His eyes invade our hearts with light powerful enough to split the darkness and birth new life.

 

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In the Midst of Redemption’s Story

What carries us through the daily warzone? The knowledge that we’re in the midst of redemption’s story, in which the Author of all life is the Author of our lives, working every scene together for good. We may think it’s over, but in His hands, it’s not over until He says so. Only the Author can determine the end.

 

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One Day

One day, whether here on earth or in the glory of heaven, we will see. God, the master designer, weaves good from every thread of pain wrought on this earth. That’s what makes him God.

 

Photo Credit: File:Colorful Threads (3965274345).jpg – Wikimedia Commons