“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Joel 2:12
Jesus is with us, even in the worst moments of our lives, even when there seems to be no hope and all light seems to be have been extinguished. At the times when Satan attacks hardest, when disease seems most deadly, when war and death seem immediate, when even our lives are at stake, Jesus beckons to us to come back to Him.
I think most of us go through a faith crisis at least once in our lives. Some people do so multiple times; some not at all. Me, I can honestly say I can’t recall a time in my life when I didn’t believe in God, but I can recall too many times when my belief was thin – because of things I’d said or done – or when I lived and behaved as a hypocrite (for the same aforementioned reason). I felt I deserved the disasters that ensued because I had abandoned Jesus, so He had finally abandoned me.
In Ezekiel 33, God says, “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.” When we’re down, it becomes easy to believe the evil one’s lies that tell us “God is doing this to you.” “God must be punishing you.” “You deserve this.” Those words simply aren’t true. As God told Ezekiel, He doesn’t take His pleasure from our suffering, or our deaths in unbelief. Instead, God wants each one of us to be saved, to come back to Him with genuinely repentant hearts.
What does that look like? Fasting; weeping; changed behavior; a heart that shows empathy and kindness, and works that look like the fruits of His Spirt. These kinds of behaviors are evidence that Jesus’ Spirit has taken up residence within us. The craziest part about it all is that, when you get some time behind you, you see that Jesus was actually with you, hand in hand, even during the most sinful crises. He never abandons me, or you. Don’t believe me? Check your conscience. I’m betting it will have something to say to you.
That’s a good thing because, in this life, we endure crises that challenge our faith. One day, God will end this long cycle of sinful human history. He will return in glory to extinguish evil forever, and He will demand accounting from each of us. For those who returned to Him with hearts that wept and fasted, He will look on with radiance. For those who don’t, He will look on them with tears of sadness as they’re consigned to the future their choices designed.
For more reading: Deuteronomy 4:30, 1 Samuel 7:3, Ezekiel 33:11, Hosea 12:6, Galatians 5:22-23, Joel 2:13
Lord, forgive me of my sins.
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