Choices to follow sin will take us far away from the life God would desire for us. Sin will rob us from things most precious to us and steal the things necessary for life.
Despite our sins and our failures, God still loves us and is interested in bringing us back into a right relationship with Him. God said “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).
Through God’s mercy we can experience forgiveness. Through God’s grace we can experience restoration of things lost. Not only is God interested in a restored relationship with Him, but He will also restore things lost.
God is interested in restoring the hopeless.
Sin had placed the nation of Israel into slavery. The people became slaves under the bondage of their enemies. The life of a slave was one of no hope, subject to the master’s every command or whim. Israel, God’s chosen people, was now reduced to a hopeless life of slavery.
Sin has the same affect on our lives today. This happens when you yield to sin and thus become servants to it. “…To whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16). When you become a servant to sin, the bondage of sin is a hopeless feeling. Satan would like you to believe there is no way out. The devil is wrong. God is merciful and kind. God is interested in restoring the hopeless.
Every Friday night, in hundreds of chapters across the country, there are thousands of people who “talk to God” in praise during Talk #1 of their Reformers Unanimous class. They are praising God for His work in their lives, freeing them from the bondage of sin and addiction. They were once hopeless, but are now experiencing the hope and restoration that comes from God’s mercy.
The people of Israel were in great affliction (Nehemiah 1:3). The definition of affliction is destitute of hope; having no expectation that is desirable. When you realize that your bad choices have placed you in a situation where you have no expectation that is desirable – that is a hopeless condition.
Because of God’s mercy there is hope and that hope can surface in the most unlikely places. In the book of Ezra God gave hope by stirring the heart of a pagan king. In Nehemiah God sends hope to the desolated city from the royal city.
Joe was a meth addict, homeless, separated from his beautiful family, in bondage, and hopeless. All of Joe’s possessions fit into a cardboard box. One day, inexplicably, he found an RU tract in his box. He was 40 miles from the closest Reformers Unanimous chapter and had no idea how that tract got there. The tract was a message of hope. Joe experienced God’s mercy at the RU class. He is no longer a hopeless meth addict. He is a husband, father, and faithful servant of the Lord. God is in the restoration business!
The book of Ezra in the Bible tells the story about the enslaved nation of Israel rebuilding their temple. In the process of rebuilding the temple they faced minor adversity and opposition that caused them to stop building.
Why would they stop building because of these threats? The root cause was that the adversity caused fear. “And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening” (Ezra 3:3).
Yielding to the emotion of fear can render one feeling helpless. Fear will paralyze you. “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25). Fear is a failure to trust God and, instead, evaluating the situation in your own power and ability. This is a helpless feeling.
Once again, God demonstrated His desire to bring restoration. God sent the prophet Haggai to proclaim truth to the people of Israel. God does not quit even when we do. God sends help to the helpless.
God is interested in restoring the hurting.
I have been blessed to witness many people experience freedom from their addiction in Reformers Unanimous. However, sometimes they are still hurting. Hurts can come from any number of sources: lost custody of children, family not trusting them, unemployment, marital problems, or missing essential elements of life (home, car, etc.).
The Jews that returned to Jerusalem were in the same situation. When the temple was completed in Ezra 6:14, a sign of their relationship with God was restored. However, they were still hurting. “…The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach…” (Nehemiah 1:3). Affliction means a cause of continued pain.
Further, we read in Nehemiah 2:17, “… Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire….” To be in distress means to suffer extreme pain or sorrow or hurt.
When we turn to God and experience God’s mercy and kindness, life is always better. However, that does not mean life is perfect. There still could be some significant issues remaining from a sinful past. You may still be required to reap a portion of the sinful seeds that were sown. But it is comforting to remember that God longs to restore lives and heal the problems which are causing you pain and sorrow.
God demonstrated this to Israel by sending Nehemiah to help. Nehemiah had a burden for his people. Nehemiah acted upon that burden. He prayed and fasted. This resulted in a God-given boldness to approach the king about helping those who were hurting.
God will not leave you in a state of hurting. All that you have lost may not be returned to you immediately, but God can use that time to continue your development and rebuilding process. God did not immediately restore everything to Israel. The book of Nehemiah tells the story of how the Jewish people endured adversity while repairing and building up the walls of Jerusalem. God used that undertaking to rebuild and restore the spirit and purpose of the people.
It is heartbreaking to see people living in victory over their addiction, but still hurting due to sins of the past. However, if they will continue to focus on their relationship with God, God can and God will restore.
Whatever your adversity or obstacle; no matter how hopeless it seems; no matter how helpless you feel; no matter how much you are hurting — don’t quit. God is in the restoration business.