Embracing God’s Vengeance

say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
    he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
    he will come to save you.” (Isaiah 35:4 NIV)

Fear Not

Do you have a fearful heart today?

Do you need to hear these words?

I remember when I was younger and read verses like this, which reference God destroying enemies in other translations:

Say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
    He is coming to save you.” (Isaiah 35:4 NLT)

I believed they didn’t apply to me, or to anyone for that matter. They seemed so specific to the Israelites who were wandering through the wilderness and often involved in battles with their enemies.

But as I read those words today, I realized that they certainly do apply to me, or to anyone for that matter. They apply to circumstances we face that involve the things with which we battle. It can be meeting new people. It can involve trying to create a budget for the first time or the 27th time. It can be wrestling with the inner critic as you work on a creative project. It can be facing down the naysayers and doubters as you pursue your calling, your dream, your purpose.

What are you battling today? Could you use some divine reinforcements?

Maybe what you’re battling in yourself. Maybe you’ve made some bad choices or hurt someone with your words or done something you wish you could undo. If that’s you, I think these words apply even more to you. Consider me an example for how these words might apply even more to such circumstances.

My husband and I have been walking through some rough terrain lately. A wilderness of our own making that has tripped us up more than a time or two when it comes to things like finances and pursing dreams and day-to-day living. In other words, some of our days have been difficult. And the things about falling and failing and bad choices is that their fallout carries some heavy weight in the form of shame, regret, judgment from others (real or perceived or both). There’s a whole host of pain and disappointment and anger.

But there’s also God. God with us.

Looking back just the few months from where our struggle began, I see things differently when I look at them through God’s eyes. The timing for one thing. This all began not too far out from the holiday season of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Christmas and the celebration of the birth of a Savior. Emmanuel: God with us.

There’s definitely God. Right there in the mix of the shame, the regret the judgment, the pain, there’s God coming in with a vengeance and divine retribution. There’s God coming to save us. And in our case, He’s coming to save us from ourselves and also from our wallowing in shame or regret or anger.

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy.

Sometimes we know what we should do, but still we don’t do it. The spirit is willing but the body is weak. Human nature is pretty strong in its weakness for temptation and and bad choices and wallowing.

But the Good News is still there. God is with us and God will save you. No, it might not look like you expect it should, but then, if you consider the choices you’ve made that led you to where you are, it’s probably good that it’s not what you expect or what you would do, you know?

And the Good News is still that God will destroy our enemies. Even if those enemies are within us. Our fears, our anger, our regret, our wallowing.

When I look at things through God’s eyes, I am amazed at the Truth I see in my life.

I would not have chosen these circumstances as the means to grow stronger in faith or draw closer to God, but I will take that result indeed. I will be strong. I will not fear. And I will praise God for the miracles it took to save me this day and all the days that came before.

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