Devotional Thoughts for Today
22 This is what the Lord says: “Look, an army is coming from the land of the north; a great nation is being stirred up from the ends of the earth. 23 They are armed with bow and spear; they are cruel and show no mercy. They sound like the roaring sea as they ride on their horses; they come like men in battle formation to attack you, Daughter Zion.” 24 We have heard reports about them, and our hands hang limp. Anguish has gripped us, pain like that of a woman in labor. 25 Do not go out to the fields or walk on the roads, for the enemy has a sword, and there is terror on every side. 26 Put on sackcloth, my people, and roll in ashes; mourn with bitter wailing as for an only son, for suddenly the destroyer will come upon us. 27 “I have made you a tester of metals and my people the ore, that you may observe and test their ways. 28 They are all hardened rebels, going about to slander. They are bronze and iron; they all act corruptly. 29 The bellows blow fiercely to burn away the lead with fire, but the refining goes on in vain; the wicked are not purged out. 30 They are called rejected silver, because the Lord has rejected them.”
When my parents sold our family home of 16 years, I tried to convince myself that it was not a sad parting. While I loved our family home— and it was certainly God’s provision to give us such space—my primary concern was more for my parents. It wasn’t until I visited our home one last time to surrender my keys, when I found myself in a flood of tears. Seeing our home that had been filled with memories, keepsakes, and valuables completely empty for someone else to move their things in, hit me with the reality that I would never live in this house again. I realized at that moment that I needed to grieve this transition properly for me to walk into the new season that God had in store for myself and my family.
When we read today’s passage and God’s directive to bring a powerful and merciless nation again Jerusalem, God gives one last charge to the city. He tells the people to put on sackcloth, roll in ashes, and mourn with bitter wailing – the traditional mourning customs of the Old Testament. While we cannot know for certain whether God would have stopped the judgment of Judah if they went into mourning, my judgment would say that there would have been some grace from our Father. The reason is because mourning only comes when we have a heart of true repentance. When we understand the true nature of our sin and the effect it has on ourselves, those around us, and to God, our natural response is sorrow and mourning. It is in our sorrow in which we can express the need for God’s love, grace, and mercy that allows the space for God to come and do His work.
Matthew 7 states, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” True freedom from sins can only be experienced when we go in repentance grieving and mourning our sins. While grieving is a necessary process in repentance, it is also a necessary process in bringing our true emotions to the surface so that God may shine His light into the dark areas. While I am still grieving the loss of our home, my grieving process has brought friends and church members to come alongside to help me during this transition. Without them I am not certain how I would have handled the transition, yet it was only in my pursuit to be honest and open about my sorrow that I was able to experience the love, grace, and provision through God’s people. When we learn to grieve our sins, our losses, and our pains in honesty before the Lord, it is then that He can truly come in and do His work of comforting, healing, and restoring us.
Prayer: God, forgive me for the ways I have sinned against You. Help me to see the deep sorrow that I cause You, myself, and others in my sin and bring me to true repentance. Thank You that true repentance is possible because of the cross of Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Habakkuk 3