I’m currently doing two different Bible studies – one that focuses on 1 & 2 Kings and another that accounts Jesus’ last words in John. What strikes me about both is that as God’s children, we always seem to fail. We fail and we fail and we fail, yet He forgives and forgives and forgives. How amazing is that?
This week, I asked my BSGs (Bible Study Girls) a question: “Does God punish us?” It led to a great discussion and a lot of contemplation. The Old Testament is full of quite a lot of “punishment.” We often see kings’ children die because of the “evil they did in the eyes of the Lord.” (1 Kings 15:34; 1 Kings 16:2, 7, 19, 26 and 31) I mean, they just couldn’t seem to figure out this whole obedience to God thing. Most notably, King Zimri (1 Kings 16: 15-20) was so tainted by greed and power that his reign only last seven days before he died in a fire as consequence of his own sin. All the droughts, wars, disease and more – were all signs of a nation enthralled by the flesh rather than God’s authority and power.
These Old Testament stories often leave a bad taste in both the Christian and non-Christian’s mouth. At the surface, they paint God’s wrath in vivid colors and appall those who can’t grasp why God would let such terrible things happen to his chosen nation. The reality is, God is wrathful – and we mustn’t forget that. But He is also a loving God whose plan was always Jesus, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. With that truth, we can re-read the story of the seven plagues, the 40 years in the wilderness and the tragedies of King David and know that God works all things for our good and His Glory – because of Jesus. At the center of this undeserving covenant we gain through Jesus is a desire for obedience and faithfulness to God’s Word BECAUSE we know the amazing sacrifice that was made for us on the cross. Amidst this, there is grace – so much grace. For God still knows that all of His children have fallen short of His glory, and will continue to fall short until we are joined in heaven one day. His plan has always been of love and forgiveness. And that’s pretty amazing.
So, my BSGs and I came to the conclusion that yes, there are consequences for sin and we will most likely always be hanging on tight to a pendulum that is constantly swinging between faith and doubt, but amidst that, we must trust that His plan is better and good, and right.
Besides, how often do we look in judgment at the disobedient child in the grocery store or in a restaurant and mutter to ourselves “Looks like that child needs some discipline.” Yet, we scoff and “find it hard to believe” in a God who disciplines His children – for their good and His Glory. We must find comfort in knowing we have a Father who loves us so much that he disciplines us.
I, for one am thankful to now be living under the loving discipline of a perfect Father. Knowing what it is like to live without an earthly one and living a majority of my life outside of God’s will, fulfilling the desires of my flesh – I am utterly grateful and amazed to have a God who cares for my heart and soul. I struggle to control situations, control those around me and those I love. When I realize that this control stems from a lack of trust in the love of my heavenly Father, I begin to loosen my grip and experience true freedom. God’s power to overwhelm me with His love is amazing. His forgiveness for me is amazing. His grace for me is amazing.
Once I started truly studying the Word of God, and Jesus’ teachings, in the Bible I realized how loving, how amazing the character of God is. He always has our best interest in mind. He is always leading us to something better. He never gives up on us, no matter how many times we give up on Him. Jesus’ lineage, as seen in Matthew 1, is made up of a bunch of people just like us. People who have failed God. People like King David who is the textbook example of a sinner, yet He is a sinner whose household was redeemed because of Jesus.
So today, as we enter a tumultuous, unnerving time in the United States, I challenge you to join me in finding amazement in God each day. From now until the end of November, check back every day for encouragement and guidance through the scripture as we visit several examples of how Jesus left those around him amazed.
Although we may lack faith or struggle to believe that His plans for our world are good, we must remember the plan God had for the early nation of Israel. The first part of that redemption has already been fulfilled, now we must wait expectantly for the amazing work He has in store.