For January 22, 2019
Some five-hundred years before the birth of Christ–while Jerusalem lay in ruins with the great Temple King Solomon built a smoldering heap–God gave Ezekiel a message of encouragement and renewal for the Jewish captives in Babylonian exile. Chapter 37:1-3 (NIV) sets forth this amazing event along with its unforgettable message:
The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
In this life, we are certain to experience many harrowing events that test our faith and may lead us to doubt God. Even our Lord Jesus Christ teaches that rain will fall on the just and unjust alike in Matthew 5:45. Our hardships serve as constant reminders of the presence of sin in our fallen world.
Often the Enemy uses our hardships to trigger the onset of spiritual, emotional, and psychological baggage to perpetuate the lie that we are broken beyond repair; worthless and cannot be forgiven. People who struggle to forgive themselves often insist: “God can’t/won’t forgive me…You don’t know what I’ve done!”
We cannot change our past with its hurts. What’s been done has been done. Nevertheless, God created us, and He knows us better than we know ourselves. Moreover, He is fully aware of our hurts, the “secret” sins, and the humiliating circumstances we carry that no one else knows about.
And if He is willing to love, accept, treasure, value, and forgive us through Christ, we should be more than willing to love, accept, treasure, value, and forgive ourselves. Shouldn’t we?
Hardships do not negate God’s love, grace, and mercy, nor do they reveal His desertion. Because nothing can separate us from His love, and in the final analysis, all the things we experience will work together for our good as Romans 8:28; 35-39 teach us.
Hebrew 2:1 tells us: Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. To “give the more earnest heed” (Greek: prosecho), implies being “concerned about” or “paying attention to” something. In this context, it summons our vigilance to: “be [especially] careful,” or to “be on guard.” 1
Such introspection helps to free us from the emotional and psychological scars associated with a tragic past. Over time, we can affirm there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Then we can grow in His grace by walking according to the Spirit; ever-yearning for more of the Abundant Life He freely extends to all of us who trust in Him. 2
The New Living Translation of 2 Corinthians 5:17 reminds us that: “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” Here, we can experience the Lord’s Abundant Life now and His glorious Heaven later. At that time, all our hardships and toils will be forgotten instantly the moment we see Jesus Christ in his full majestic splendor. Amen!
Can these bones live? Can shattered, broken lives be repaired and restored? As Ezekiel 37:10 offered assurance to ancient Israel that dry bones can live and become “an exceeding great army.” It offers hope today that decimated lives can be fully restored by the ever-renewing, omnipotent Spirit of God.
What a wonderful Savior!
- Walter Bauer, “προσέχω,” A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, revised and edited by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1979) 714.
- See: Romans 8:1, 2 Peter 3:18, John 10:10. Also the participation in a Christian clinical treatment or recovery program in conjunction with a church discipleship or mentoring program can aid in healing from acute physical or emotional abuse or compulsive and addictive behavior by helping us to develop a support and accountability network needed to sustain our spiritual healing and wholeness.