The Long Delay

“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:3 ESV)

Few promises of God are fulfilled instantaneously. The Bible is full of the stories of people who set out into the unknown at God’s command, trusting in His promises. All testify to the faithfulness of God, His trustworthiness and unfailing goodness. Yet, few got the timings of God’s promises exactly right. Abraham reached his hundredth year, and wondered, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” (Genesis 17:17 NIV).

Remember Paul writing this: “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11 ESV). While these words about the Lord’s return might truthfully be spoken at any given time, it is clear that Paul hoped to see it happen in his own lifetime. He went to his grave unshaken in this confidence; so, we see how difficult it is to guess God’s timing in this matter. As Jesus said, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36 ESV). We have been given signs to look for, but too often we see the beginning of birth pangs and conclude that the baby is almost out. There is nothing wrong with expecting the Lord to return soon, as long as we don’t go about stating the date and hour, for this will only cause the world to laugh at our naiveté. Peter hinted that the generation that stops believing in His return and scoffs at the notion of it will, to their great horror, be the one to be overtaken by it (2 Peter 3).

It could be that God, in delaying the answers to our many urgent prayers, is teaching us how to wait and prepare for Christ’s coming. Christians in every generation are, therefore, to remain watchful, expectant, active and prepared like a woman waiting for her child o be born. As we are forced almost against our will to wait, we must keep our faith from being extinguished and be ready for the answer to come at any moment. Although the nature of the preparation sometimes depends on the expected outcome, the Bible teaches us how to go through this waiting period.

Even if the waiting takes years, we must keep remembering His promises, and confess our confidence in God’s faithfulness. True, we may be wrong about the specifics concerning the promise, the length of our wait and God’s methods, and we often underestimate the trials and struggles we will have to endure on the way. Yet, we can be certain of this fact – He remains faithful. In those dark periods of ‘unknowing’, we might safely cling to Him remembering that He has promised never to leave nor forsake us. “Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.” (Isaiah 50:10 ESV). In the final analysis, even if we have been wrong about everything, God remains faithful to us and depending on Him is always the right thing to do. “The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him” (Lamentations 3:25 ESV). He is good and therefore will bring out something wonderful in the end. “Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame…” (Psalm 25:3 ESV). The waiting itself is pleasing to God, and as we walk through the valley of weeping, we will turn it into a place of springs (Psalm 84:6).

So, we must fight the fear and discouragement that seek to come in and hinder our progress. Some of us are more prone to worry than others, and it is necessary to fight against it. Even, if we temporarily fall into a state of despondency, as soon as we come to our senses, we should call on God. I often find myself praying to be kept in the faith, and free of fear. We must never, ever give up hope. For promises come to fruition according to heaven’s timetable and the seeming delays are simply things being kept aside for us to be delivered in the ‘fullness of time’. The fruit needs time to ripen, and there is no use plucking it while it is still green. We have, in effect, made a fixed deposit in the bank of faith, and we must wait until maturation period is complete, knowing that longer the wait, greater will be the final returns.

At the core of Christian character is patience, and God is teaching us to be patient. From heaven’s perspective, if all our prayers were instantly fulfilled, we would never learn humility or trust. Rather, we might grow proud, imagining ourselves as being worthy of heavenly rewards. Waiting, on the other hand, can be humbling. We begin to understand the depth of our unbelief and other failings. People around us see that we are depending wholly on God to bring us through, and many will see us as being foolish, and some openly ridicule us. Like Job’s friends, people might charge us with wrongdoing in the belief that they are defending God’s honour. Like Job, we are called to pray for such friends, and wish them well.

It is necessary to acknowledge that, in some cases we might never live to see the answer to our prayers, yet they will come to pass beyond our earthly lifetimes. There is great glory in the fulfilment of such promises: “Rather, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.”’ (1 Corinthians 2:9 BSB). Could Abraham ever have imagined how great his descendants would be, and that the Messiah would be his Seed? Consider all the prophets, saints and apostles who came from his bloodline. Indeed, all saints are reckoned as Abraham’s seed for he is the father of those who believe. Such a great legacy, yet Abraham spent his life as a nomad, and lived just long enough to see Isaac. None of God’s good promises to us will fail or fall to the ground, all will be fulfilled – many in our own lifetimes and some beyond.

An important aspect of our fight is keeping ourselves in the joy that we have in Christ. “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17 ESV). Joy is our rightful inheritance as Christians, but so many of us have forgotten about the power of joy. Before He was crucified, Jesus prayed that we might have ‘full measure of His joy in us’ (John 17:13), and without joy, we will struggle to hold our ground. Remember, how joyful we were when we first received the promise. The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10), but hope deferred makes hearts grow sick (Proverbs 13:12). Therefore, we must once more take our stand, and regain the ‘joyfulness’ we once had, for here there is victory.

In conclusion, the rewards of waiting for answers to our prayers as God tarries are many – some of these will be ours to enjoy on earth, and others in eternity. Here, we learn to fight the good fight, develop patience and humility which are central to Christian character formation. As we regain the joy that the enemy tries to steal from us in this fight, we know that victory is at hand.

Father, grant us patience, confidence and courage as we await the fulfilment of Your wonderful promises to us. Help us to serve You in humility, and never give in to fear or despair. Fill our hearts with peace and joy. In Jesus’ name.

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A ‘Hyper-sensitive’ Christian

“You are precious and honoured in My sight, and I love you…” (Isaiah 43:4),

Two days ago, I read an article entitled, ‘Curse of being a highly sensitive person…’ and found that I clearly fit the description, having been told from childhood “to toughen up and not take everything to heart”. I also happen to have a couple of friends who share similar traits. Apparently psychologists have now begun to label our ‘condition’-

“More recently, U.S. psychologist Dr Elaine Aron has shown that high sensitivity is an innate temperament trait, not a disorder: HSP brains show a stronger activation of the regions involved in awareness and empathy. Yet HSPs can end up feeling lonely and isolated, says Mel. The key to thriving as an HSP is to understand why you react in the way you do — and even to see your high sensitivity as a gift, not a flaw.”

In the article, Mel Collins, a ‘spiritual healer’, gives coping strategies for people who are afflicted. Some of her suggestions line up with what the scripture teaches – and have been part of my own coping toolkit over the years – but, others, not so much. A problem for us is that being oversensitive is seen as a weakness or a flaw, so you grow up trying to change or hide it. True, we are vulnerable to being easily hurt, yet, as a Christian, being able to identify with the pain of others in any situation, including those who are in the wrong, is no bad thing… this is why Christians reach out to people in prison. So, as Collins suggests, we should begin to see our sensitivity as a gift, which is clearly how God sees it.

She also suggests that we start each day with some positive affirmations. Instead of saying, “I am unique. I embrace my sensitivity and I appreciate the gifts it brings to myself and others”, why not, as a friend suggested, proclaim God’s word over our own lives. Try “I am precious and honoured in His sight, and He loves me” (from Isaiah 43:4), “You have written my name on the palms of Your hand” (Isaiah 49:16), “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death… No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us” (Romans 8:35-37 NLT), and “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37 NIV).

In relationships, we tend to be taken advantage of, trampled all over and forgotten, and this inevitably leads to bitterness. Here, Collins suggests a very Christian approach: ‘Give up grudges’. Practising forgiveness is not as easy as it sounds, because some wounds go deeper than we imagine and surface when we least expect. Yet, in the moments when I feel most vulnerable or resentful, I have learnt to call on Jesus, cling to Him, cry on His gentle arms, and feel the refreshing breath of His Spirit. I come away cleansed and renewed as ‘He restores my soul’. I also try to stand on His word: “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many” (Hebrews 12:15 NLT). So we must extend grace to those who might fail or disappoint us, just as Christ extends grace to us when we fail Him, and shield our hearts from evil thoughts about others. It becomes easier when we understand that forgiveness is primarily an act of will, and not a matter of feelings. Our feelings might initially rebel, but if we are determined to obey, they finally fall in line.

I tend to agree with Collins’ advice about setting some boundaries, although this is not very easy to do with those I care much about. So, I fail and get taken advantage of, but then I remember Paul’s advice: “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” God is after all able to set everything right in His time; but in the meantime we must wish even our enemies well. If we truly wish them well and pray for them, God is able to effect an outcome that is good for both us and them. Otherwise, we might find ourselves in a place where both parties remain in a state of being hurt.

Over the years, I have learnt to practise what Collins terms ‘self-care’, and avoid over-stimulation, which can be stressful to those who are hypersensitive. This often, involves behaving in ways that some people find strange. I do not, for example, accept many invitations to social gatherings or parties. I have also come to terms with the fact that I am not a natural multi-tasker. I prefer to take up a few things, do them properly, have some space to plan and reflect. When surrounded by several people or causes that demand my attention, I prayerfully choose to devote myself to just three or four, simply because I am not very good at doing more.

I don’t know what to make of Collins’ tip to “Embrace your dark side” – that is instead of suppressing negative emotions such as anger, to express pent up feelings in harmless ways. Punch a pillow or scream into it. For me, however, as a Christian, I find strength in the presence of the Great Physician; He is my comfort in times of trouble, and I go to Him when I feel hurt or resentful. Prayer, especially in tongues, calms me better than punching pillows.

A study of the Bible ought to be made compulsory for secular counsellors and psychologists, in my opinion; there is so much they could learn. Instead they go about re-inventing the wheel and taking credit for it; they sometimes miss out on the best bits and offer a half baked cure when they ignore scriptural advice. For example, psychologists, at one time encouraged people to go over their past and examine where their loved ones had failed them. While this may be cathartic in some cases, family relationships are often fractured as a result; but what does the Bible say? “Forget the former things and do not dwell on the past. I am doing a new thing…” (Isaiah 43:17-18). Forgive not seven times, but seventy times seven, Jesus said (Matthew 18:22). It might be helpful to understand why we behave in certain ways, but the final goal is freedom, forgiveness and reconciliation. God does not want us to be tied down by our past, but to move on to new and better things, and enjoy peaceful relationships even with those who hurt us.

Father, I thank You for the grace and compassion we have in You through Jesus. Teach us how to use our gifts and manage our weaknesses wisely, for the glory of Your name. In Jesus’ name.

Only For a Time

“Bread corn is bruised;
because he will not ever be threshing it,
nor break it with the wheel of his cart,
nor bruise it with his horsemen.
This also cometh forth from the Lord of hosts,
which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.” (Isaiah 28:28-29 KJV)

Suffering is common to mankind. It is the result of sin, that entered our world following Adam’s disobedience. Even after we have commited our lives to Christ, sin remains in the world we inhabit trying to choke our spiritual progress, like weeds in the garden. To ensure that the good seed is still able to grow and flourish, God, in His wisdom, uses suffering as His weeding tool. Suffering draws us to Himself and forms His own character in us; yet, in His mercy, the measure of suffering that befalls us is limited both in time and intensity. It never goes on forever, but comes to an end at an appointed time, and the end result is a joyful harvest of Christian virtues.

Just as wheat is bruised so that it yields flour for the bread that feeds us all, so the aim of suffering is to make us more useful for the Master, and this often means being useful to our neighbour. As W.M. Statham put it, “The best life means usefulness. We stand in constant relationship to others. Man may be to his brother bread of thought, through long hours of mental struggle and agony. He may be bread of compassion too. We are to be “meet for the Master’s use.” Thus we learn that to be mere quietists or pietists is not enough. We must not light the lonely lamp of incense before the altar, and remain in rapt meditation or even devotion, always. No. The disciples had to come down from the ecstatic moments of the transfiguration to the common earth and to homespun duty.”

Every branch that bears fruit is pruned so that it might bear more fruit. Even the most impatient among us are forced to learn some patience and understand the value of delayed gratification when our lives are put on hold. Those who endure suffering with patience experience peace, righteousness and increased fruitfulness. In patience, Christian character is forged and the proof that we are growing more Christlike is the blossoming of hope in our souls (Romans 5:3-4). Wonderful hope of restoration and great joy! “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

In ancient Israel, if someone became destitute and had no means of livelihood, he could sell himself as a slave; but after 7 years, his master was obliged to release him and pay him enough for a fresh start in life. Likewise, all land sold in Israel had to be returned in the year of Jubilee to the original owners. At the end of our trials, God sees to it that everything we once lost is restored to us in one way or another. David recovered all that was stolen from him at Ziklag, and so shall we. When the Shunammite woman returned to her country after the 7 year famine – she had been commanded to leave home in order to sustain herself and her family – she found her case being raised before the king himself by Elisha’s servant. ‘So the king appointed an official for her, saying, “Restore all that was hers, together with all the revenue of the fields from the day that she left the land until now”‘ (2 Kings 8:1-6).

Seven years implies the fullness of time. So, there is the fullness of time – when the seed has grown into a tree and begun to yield fruit. Until then it is best left undisturbed, watered and manured by the Gardener’s hand. To pluck its fruit while still unripe brings no joy to the Gardener or anyone else. Premature elevation can be burden and a trap, but in the fullness of time, we arrive at our destination fully prepared not only to receive, but to serve. “All this also comes from the LORD Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent” (Isaiah 28:29 NIV).

Father, thank You for Your mercy that limits our suffering. Help us to be patient and expectant in trials, knowing that You will turn even these things for our good.

The Wait

For you, a thousand years are as a passing day, as brief as a few night hours. (Psalm 90:4 NLT)

To Christians facing persecution, Peter had this to say, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9 NIV).

God’s timescale is very different to ours – He is not bound by the time on our clocks, or by the seasons, which were appointed for our planet. Events that would require a hundred or even a thousand years in our estimation may be accomplished in a matter of minutes or days – God only has to say the word. Equally, things that we imagine could or should be done in a very short space of time, He might choose to delay – for a thousand years! All this can seem very puzzling to us, and often unnerving, when we come face to face with the reality of divine delays in our own circumstances.

Yet, as Peter reminds us, God is not slow, He is patient. The reason for His patience is simple: He wants everyone to have the chance to repent and be saved. He manages times and seasons to ensure the salvation of many. Some winemakers set aside wine to age and mature for a hundred years – knowing that neither they nor anyone else in their generation would ever taste it – being satisfied with the hope that the enjoyment of some future patron, yet unborn, would be much improved by the careful preparation and long waiting period. During the maturation process, the wine undergoes certain chemical reactions which change its colour and improve its taste. So God keeps the best wine for the end.

As God withdraws His hand and waits, and as we are forced to wait, our souls are subjected to a series of spiritual reactions, which are designed to make us more Christlike. The spiritual quality, resilience and sweetness of our lives are greatly enhanced as a result of this waiting. However, most of us, like Abraham before us, will experience a waxing and waning of enthusiasm for the task before us as well as for the promised result. Our courage wanes when the progress is slow, and perks up when we see a positive sign. This is perfectly natural, but God helps us by re-affirming His covenant and promises to us. God does not consider such responses to be wavering, but as milestones in our spiritual journey. The scriptures encourage us to hold on, and not give up when we experience a spell of barrenness. “Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God” (Isaiah 50:10 ESV). So we must pick ourselves up from the ground of despair and move forward leaning on His word and faithfulness.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.” (Psalm 32:8-9 NIV)

Here, we are shown 2 common time-wasting responses. Like untrained horses, we might charge ahead in the wrong direction at the least hint of a disturbance; or like a mule, stubbornly refuse to move or move about in circles, being deaf or unmindful of the Master’s commands. However, if we train our spirits to become sensitive to the Holy Spirit by prayer, meditation on His word and obedience, then we will learn to be content to wait or ready to move, as the Lord directs. Being asked to wait or to race, will mean all the same to us because the Master’s pleasure, rather than our final destination, will become our goal.

Faith is required to span the distance between the laws of time and the laws of eternity. So we walk by faith to keep in step with eternity and deny the flesh which would cling to earthly ways; we choose a better way of doing things, which might seem incomprehensible to our neighbours and open ourselves to criticism and scorn. For we know and trust a God who is able to perform the work of a millennium in a single day as He fulfils His perfect purpose not only for us, but also for all those who love Him now in our present age, and for those will come to love Him in the years, decades and centuries beyond our time, should He delay His return.

Father, help us to remain steadfast, believing, unperturbed by delays. Grant us the grace to be content when You ask us to wait, and to be ready to move at Your command. In Jesus’ name.

The Hope of New Beginnings

It is a land the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end. (Deuteronomy 11:12 NIV

The arrival of each new year embodies our hope for new beginnings – the desire to wipe clean our slates of all that went wrong in the past and begin afresh. For many, this year will pass as the ones before it, new resolutions quickly forgotten by the third week of January and the early promise extinguished as problems from the past year overtake us in the new.

For the Christian, however, each new year comes with the renewed promise of God’s care… His eyes hover around us continually, like a mother bird over her chicks, from the beginning of the year to the end. As we entrust every hope and resolution into the loving hands of the Altogether Lovely One, the dryness and deadness of the past is overcome by the newness of God. He is the Resurrection and the Life, and nothing that comes into contact with such a life giving force can remain empty, barren or dead. The troubles of the past become opportunities to exercise new strengths; and fresh resources from the eternal storehouse are sent to tackle previously unscalable hurdles. Defeat gives way to victory, and barrenness to new life.

Many Christians begin the new year with a short period of seeking the Lord, for a week or a fortnight, sometimes with fasting, committing the weeks ahead to Him. As we reaffirm our dependance on our Heavenly Father, He renews His covenant of care, guidance and protection. New and better things surely await all who look to Him, for His mercies are new every morning. and His faithfulness from everlasting to everlasting. So, let us begin 2019 with a word of prayer-

Father, we thank You for the gift of this new year. May we learn to trust and obey You more in the coming days. Grant us the wisdom to avail of every opportunity and the strength to face every challenge you permit to come our way. Help us to be sensitive to Your Holy Spirit, and discern His leading each day. May all our relationships be blessed and pleasing to You. For we ask this in Jesus’ name.

The Litany of Humility

Lord Jesus. Meek and humble of heart, Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being honoured, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

 Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930)

Repentance

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

When Peter preached his first sermon to the crowds gathered in Jerusalem, he confronted them with their guilt in crucifying the Messiah. ‘When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said… “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”’ Many in the crowd repented that day, were saved and received the Spirit.

Jesus explained the working of the Holy Spirit –“When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment…” (John 16:8). New life begins when we yield to the work of the Holy Spirit upon our spirits. When the Holy Spirit convicts, a light is switched on in our souls and suddenly we understand of the nature of sin and judgment. Yet, the Holy Spirit comes not only reveals sin to the sinner – He shows us the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. He leads us to confess our sins and to receive the new life that is freely given to all who put their hope in the cross of Jesus Christ. And so, our faith walk begins.

Like John Bunyan’s pilgrim, we set out on our journey stirred by a growing desire in our spirits to experience God more fully. According to the psalmist, our soul’s thirst for God is satisfied only when we meet Him in the depths of our beings – “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me” (Psalm 42:7 NIV). To connect with God at a superficial level is the most uncomfortable experience for a Christian – we are constantly nagged by guilt, but never truly experience the power of the cross and the victorious life. To experience God in the depths, our spirits need to be cleansed of the stains that come from our daily association with the world, for His Spirit is poured only into clean vessels, emptied of self and sin.

Every day in a hundred different ways, we are tempted to react to people and situations ‘in the flesh’. Once our conscience is awakened to an attitude or pattern of behaviour that displeases God, the Holy Spirit also shows us the course of action that will restore us to a right standing with Him – this most often begins with repentance. Our sensitivity to the Spirit of God decreases if we ignore His promptings, but increases each time we yield. True repentance cleanses our souls, opens our spiritual eyes, makes our wills more compliant towards God, and strengthens our resolve to do right.

This is why David prayed,Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24 BSB). Besides the Holy Spirit’s inward promptings, God also works through other means to direct us along the paths of righteousness – people around us, circumstances, and the scriptures. The last, of course, is the most reliable source of divine guidance and every other form of light must be tested against God’s word. This is especially true in situations where our emotions are deeply affected.

Repentance opens our understanding to the way out of our difficulties. When the prodigal son was convicted of his wrongdoing, he was also awakened to an understanding of his father’s goodness and generosity. He realised that the way out of the chaos and emptiness of his life was to return to the father and confess his sins. So, as we kneel before our Father to receive His mercy, being restored to the warmth of His fellowship, the scarcity and emptiness of our lives comes to an end. “Indeed, He drew you from the jaws of distress to a spacious and broad place, to a table full of richness” (Job 36:16 ESV). Was this not the prodigal’s experience? It will be ours, too, each time we repent. 

It is hard for us to comprehend the mercy of God, because we see little of true mercy in this world. Few, even in the church, are willing to persevere in an attitude of mercy and forbearance towards those who continually wrong them. How different is our God! Consider His mercy to the most wicked kings in Israel and Judah – Ahab and Manasseh. Despite all their wickedness, the minute they cried to God in their distress, He relented from pouring judgment on their heads. God relents. When the people of Nineveh repented, He relented and did not bring on them the intended judgment.

Repentance results in a restoration of broken relationships, and what a blessing this brings. Jacob lived as a fugitive in his uncle’s home because he had wronged his brother. Yet, as he cried to God in his distress and ‘contended’ with the angel of God, his relationship with Esau was set right and the way was opened for him to return in freedom to the land promised to his fathers. “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity… For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore” (Psalm 133:1, 3). Such harmony is impossible for prideful people, but easy indeed when we make up our minds to humble ourselves if we are in the wrong and be willing to receive those who may wrong us.

A repentant heart is the key to a victorious life. When we choose humility and repentance over self-justification, we are choosing God’s wisdom over worldly wisdom, and He recompenses us with honour – “Showing respect to the LORD will make you wise, and being humble will bring honor to you” (Proverbs 15:33 CEV). So, repentance leads to peace, true happiness and success, an uncommonly rich life.

Father, help us to come with open minds before You. May our hearts be open to the conviction of the Holy Spirit; and help us to quickly and earnestly repent of all our wrong attitudes and missteps. Strengthen us to do Your will. In Jesus’ name.