Day 113 – Feeling Great Distress?

I mentioned in an earlier post that the book of Judges tells of Israel’s seven cycles of “sin, servitude, supplication, salvation, silence.”

Israel goes through one of those cycles in Judges 10, from silence to salvation:

  • Jair leads Israel for 22 years (vs. 3). But then he dies… and
  • Israel again does evil in the eyes of God and turns to worship no less than seven other gods. (vs. 6)
  • In response to Israel’s adultery, God allows Israel to be enslaved by the Ammonites and the Philistines (vs. 7).
  • Eventually the suffering gets to Israel (the nation was in “great distress”), and the people cry out to God, confessing “We have sinned against You, forsaking our God and serving the Baals.” At first God tells Israel to ask their “gods” for help, and they repeat their confession: “We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.” (vs. 10-15)
  • The people of Israel don’t just confess their sin, but they show the fruit of repentance: “…they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the LORD.” (vs. 16)
  • “And [the LORD] could bear Israel’s misery no longer…”

What struck me as I read this passage is that I go through the same cycle. I’m coasting along with God and think everything is hunky dory, but below the surface idolatries are brewing. I am serving other “gods” – looking for favor and validation from anyone but God – who directed infinite love towards me when He was on the cross.

The thing is, I often don’t see that I am serving idols. The idolatrous rituals are hidden deep in unconscious patterns of my flesh.

So God allows difficulties to enter my life. As the distress deepens, somehow I am able to see junk that I never saw in my heart, lies that I have believed, ways that I have sought blessings more than God, who is Himself the greatest blessing. Sometimes I respond to the difficulties with sinful attitudes I never saw before.

Eventually, by God’s grace, my heart is broken by my treason. I confess. And by His grace, I repent.

I love it that “God could bear Israel’s misery no longer.” It’s as if God has suffered with Israel, with me. He hates that we have to endure misery before we “get it” about our sin. But when we turn in repentance, He can finally take the pressure off. His mercy brought the pain. And now His mercy relieves it.

Israel’s slavery led to “great distress.” My difficulties feel to me like great distress. But my pain is nothing (less than nothing) to what Jesus suffered on the Cross.

When God could bear our misery no longer, He took the misery on Himself.

He died to draw me close and he lets me endure great distress to draw me closer.

Amen.

 

Today’s Readings: Judges 9:1 – 10:18, Psalm 50:1-6, Proverbs 14:25-27, Luke 16:1-31. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts. Your daily blogger, Holiday Longing (Reproduce with permission only).

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8 thoughts on “Day 113 – Feeling Great Distress?

      • I never saw Abraham, so I can’t say. However he spent his time well north of Africa and was born in Ur of the Chaldees which scholars place in either Iraq or Turkey. I refer you to the Old Testament for more information about Abraham.

        Frankly I am not sure what this has to do with my original post. It seems you want to prove a point, not comment on what I wrote.

      • If Abraham was black, tan, or yellow (he probably wasn’t white), it doesn’t really matter (and isn’t significant to the concept of distress leading to repentance). His spiritual children are related by Jesus, not color or origin.

      • Thanks for having this discussion with me because we can disagree but because we are speaking about righteous topics and it ultimately bring us closer to the Almighty Creator. God Bless. Distress can lead you to righteousness and thus repentance. For some, like myself, repentance is the search for truth, like you I believed in lies. Growing in a Western Christian Society means living with hypocrisy. For example you are speaking of Judges and Judges speaks of Samson. Samson was a Nazarite. (Like Jesus right?) he was not allowed flesh or wine (Like Jesus right?) but today I see ham for Easter Dinner. I see this is like Roman style…a people who “tore the pages” out of bible to suit their lifestyle and unfortunatly MY origins. I guess I want the truth so that my ancestors and I may be forgiven for the wrongs we have done, like lying. Like you I seek the truth. If you see Africa as the promised land it changes everything. I too am tired of lies and everyday is a challenge to be righteous as I am sure you understand!.

      • I think the jury is out about Jesus being a Nazirite. John the Baptist was more likely one. Recall in Matthew 11:18-19 – “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

        This suggests that John was far more strict than Jesus about what he ate and drank – and that Jesus drank wine.

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