Ezra 6:3 In the first year of King Cyrus, the king issued a decree concerning the temple of God in Jerusalem:
Let the temple be rebuilt as a place to present sacrifices, and let its foundations be laid.
This is one of the more delightful stories in the Old Testament. The enemies of the Jews tried legal means to block their rebuilding of the temple, and it backfired on them big time. Darius located the original decree by Cyrus, and he not only validated it, he ordered the enemies of the Jews to provide for its fulfillment! God indeed has a way of turning things around, using people and circumstances that would seem to tear His children down to instead support and strengthen them. As Paul said, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) We are quick to panic at what faces us, but God sees the end from the beginning, and His plans are good. That’s not to say that our way will be easy; Jesus promised that in this world we would have trouble. (John 16:33) Likewise, the lessons and discipline God knows we need are often pretty unpleasant at the time. Just as it says in Hebrews, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11) The point for us is to trust God and look forward to what He is going to do through whatever we are experiencing. We won’t see the final results in this life, but even the mid-term results can be a huge blessing, and we need to look forward to them.
We are in the middle of this, but then this is the story of all of life. When we focus on the difficulty of the moment it can seem like a huge mountain. Sometimes God wants to strengthen us by having us climb it, but sometimes it disappears in a moment, just as in this story. The thing is, we don’t know which it will be, or whether (most probably) it will be something in between. Paul went through a lot of stuff, and we need to remember what He said about it all. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13) The thing is, I may have learned that secret, but as a pastor I am to teach it to the flock. It’s not a lesson we learn very easily! I can’t change anyone’s heart directly, but I can speak the truth to them in love, and allow the Holy Spirit to impart that truth to their hearts so that they may receive it and be set free from the traps of the devil. (John 8:32)
Father, You know who is struggling, and how. I ask Your grace and mercy for each of us, so that together we may receive and walk in all that You have planned for us, allowing You to replace our weakness with Your strength, (Isaiah 40:31, 2 Corinthians 12:9) for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!