Have you ever created such a mess, you felt certain restoration would never come? Maybe years of arguing and manipulation destroyed the trust in your marriage or decades of addiction shattered the dreams you once held. Surveying the wreckage all around you, you feel stuck. Stuck in your mess, in your hurt, in the brokenness that has become your life.
Or perhaps you’ve watching the pain and self-destruction of someone you love and you fear they’re too far gone, the rubble piled at their feet too great, for them to ever experience the life God promised all who choose to believe.
Praise God, He’s promised this is never the case, thanks to our faithful and mercifully God and His radical, unfathomable love.
In Ezra chapter 1, we read about a major, unexpected (although divinely predicted) moment in history when a powerful king of a pagan land yielded to Creator God and abundantly blessed God’s people. Verses 1-2 state: “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:
“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah.(NIV)
Prior to this moment, God’s people had been living in exile for 70 years because of their blatant, persistent, unrepentant, and continual sin. For generations, God had warned His people of coming judgment , urging them to return to Him, but they refused and wickedness had pervaded the land. Violence, temple prostitution, even child sacrifice.
Can you imagine living in such an environment? Growing up surrounded by this evil?
To idly watch such destruction and dysfunction gain influence and momentum would not have been loving or just, and so, God intervened. Or more accurately, took a step back and gave His people what they wanted: Life without Him.
They soon discovered, however, that the control and “freedom” they sought wasn’t freedom at all. Separation from God didn’t produce the life they craved and fought for; rather, it stole that life from them and thrust them into increased bondage. Soon, their enemies the Babylonians invaded their country, ripping mothers and fathers, daughters and sons from the land, the temple, the home and the businesses, they loved.
For a time. 70 years, in fact, just as God had predicted through His prophet, Jeremiah. And once their “national timeout” so to speak concluded, the God of mercy orchestrated a return and restoration so astonishing it could only come from Him.
If you continue reading in Ezra, you’ll learn Israel’s enemy not only released them, but abundantly blessed them as well. He commanded the people to give the returning exiles silver, gold, goods, livestock, and “valuable gifts.” And they did. King Cyrus also returned all of the precious and sacred items Nebuchadnezzar had stolen from the Temple prior.
In this, we see a few things:
God’s mercy by far exceeds our sin. Although you and I might experience consequences for our actions, we’re never stuck in the pit we created and fell into–except by choice. The moment we cry out to God, He’s there to rescue and redeem.
Not even the most powerful rulers of our time can thwart God’s plans. To the contrary, they are instruments in His loving and sovereign hands.
We belong to a generous, attentive God of abundance who has proven Himself faithful to every promise He’s made. Therefore, we can trust His every word, and perhaps most importantly, we can trust His heart.
Our–or our loved one’s–circumstances may feel overwhelming. The pit may seem insurmountably deep, the walls too steep, but God never asks people to “pull themselves up from their bootstraps” so to speak. Instead, He invites us to surrender.
To trust that He’s with us, working in us, has plans for us, and the power to bring those plans to pass, often in a way that will leave us and the watching world amazed.
Oh, what hope we have in Jesus! And that hope, as Scripture states, provides a solid anchor for our souls.
How might remembering God’s power to redeem and restore bring hope to your day and current challenges? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below. To hear more on Ezra chapter 1, make sure to check out the latest Your Daily Bible episode:
The Peace of Knowing God Holds Our Days (Psalm 139:16) – Your Daily Bible Verse
You might also enjoy the latest Faith Over Fear episode: Finding Courage When People Attack Us or Our Loved Ones:
And since I’m throwing out all this free content, why not tell you about another resource? Thanks to Wholly Loved’s Karen Greer and Jessica Brodie, who helped us convert our devotional to the necessary format, we can now offer our 90 day devotional free in ebook (PDF and MOBI) form! Find it HERE.