From Wrath to Restoration

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.” Matthew 5:4, Message

Grief easily morphs into fear, when you have lost the dearest thing in the world to yourself. Suddenly your tears, angst and pain explode in your imagination with frightening thoughts of what if this or that happens. For the most part in life, I remember only the joyful and good that has taken place. The painful memories gradually heal and diminish with their fears. With each loss has come the blessing of knowing that I am embraced by God, who is dearer to me than anyone or anything. Like the patriarchs or the apostles though, somewhere later, there is another painful loss. Remember Paul’s sad words, “Demas has deserted me, because he loves the things of this life and has gone…” 2 Timothy 4:10, NLT

We would not know of Paul or have been blessed by his ministry if Paul chose to live with the fear of losing friends. Imagine if Paul never allowed himself to become close to someone again, because of betrayal. You and I, the world would be poorer, much poorer!

When I first began in ministry over and over I was advised to avoid friendships in the congregation. If you allow yourself to get close to some people others will be jealous. Those people can betray your friendship and confidence. While the advice had elements of truth, I would have been poor if I had followed it. I’ve tried to choose my friends wisely and be a good friend in return. I am rich in friendships and relationships that will go with me into eternity. Have I ever been hurt? Yes. Have I ever hurt someone? Yes. Fortunately, I’ve been embraced by the One who is most dear to me. Almost always, I have experienced restoration in relationships that have been broken.

There is another story that I want to share with you from Acts 15. “John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work. Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated.” John Mark’s desertion broke relationship with Paul and his mentor/friend, Barnabas. It’s regrettable and harmful when two godly people have a spat, especially pastors. But God continues to work with us in our pain. Later Paul would reconsider and repent of his wrath and work for John Mark’s restoration. He tells young Pastor Timothy, in 1 Timothy 4:11, “Bring [John] Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry.” John Mark rebuilt Paul’s trust. That could only be possible because Paul forgave him of his desertion.

Jesus is telling us in this passage that we are blessed when we allow grief to be healthy and lead us to him. He embraces us. We can then restore others who have sinned against us. It is painful to do but I hope you will choose the life that God blesses. In the end your life though challenging will be rich and full! I promise.

Who’s hurt you?
Who have you hurt?
Will you choose a life of blessing?
1. Choose to in your pain to mourn before the Lord.
2. Allow him to heal you and restore you. Don’t rush this!
3. Obey his command to forgive those who have sinned against you.
4. Don’t restore trust until they prove trustworthy.

Peace and Joy!

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