It was a very dark period in the history of the children of Israel. Despite warning after warning, they had hard-headedly developed a longstanding habit of idolatry and rebellion. This led to God sending various nations against the children of Israel intended to shake their faith in their false gods and erroneous, deceptive beliefs.
God’s intent was that the children of Israel would notice how little their false gods could protect them. He wanted them to repent of their sins and be renewed in their trust of his promises. Most of all, he wanted them to turn around, and return to him.
God’s discipline led to periods of gloom and despair for the children of Israel. This teaches us that God does not always keep us from trouble and sorrow — in fact, sometimes they are part of his discipline, his attempt to get us to think!
If we have rejected God over and over again, is there not some point where he is going to try and get us to connect the dots? Will a loving God not demonstrate for us where our sinful choices will eventually lead us?
He does that to shake things up and lead us back to him. He does that to get us to realize the choices we are making are leading to failure, not success.
We may sometimes fear that our period of gloom and distress will never end. We begin to believe that we are doomed to failure, trouble and sorrow. But God assures us that this is not his goal. His goal is to get us back into the light.
And that goal becomes clear when we remember that our Father sent us Jesus, his one and only Son, to make it possible for us to be forgiven, restored, and reunited with him. Jesus is our true light. You might recall that Jesus made this claim about himself: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8;12, NIV).
If you’re going through a period of distress right now, it may be that God is trying to teach you something. Step back, look carefully at what the Bible teaches about God’s holy will for your life, and ask yourself, “What changes is God asking me to make? Do I need to return and place my faith in Jesus? Is it time for me come back and walk in the light of his truth and love?”
Then remember that God does not intend to leave you in distress forever. So, take your sins to Jesus. In him, you are forgiven. You are free. Stand up and walk into the light of Jesus’ love for you. Shake off the gloom and experience the peace that the Prince of Peace has for you!
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
“The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned…
… For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:1-2, 6, NIV).
Lord, grant me a humble heart. Help me to willingly and regularly examine myself — my heart, my mind, my words and my actions, too — to see where there are changes that need to be made. Where there is gloom and distress, direct my eyes to your Son, Jesus. He is the true light. He is my forgiveness, my peace, and my joy. He is the One and Only who can help me turn my life around — with eternal benefits!
Our Bible reading for Saturday, September 5, is Isaiah 8:11 – 10:19, 2 Corinthians 8:1-15 and Proverbs 21:27 – 22:6.
Header image based on "Gloom Clouds" by Joel, CC By-SA 2.0