Dried tears are evidenced on my face as I write this. I feel like a mess.
I couldn’t stop the outpouring of anger that came upon me not thirty minutes ago. Pain and discomfort had re-entered my body this week with a vengeance, after an extended period of feeling well, stable, hopeful.
So I reached my emotional limit and out poured the tears.
Tears of anger, tears of fear, tears of worry. Even tears of thanksgiving for the breaking of my pride, though, I confess, the thankfulness sometimes comes through gritted teeth. The truth is, my body often feels like a mess, and I cannot make sense of much of it.
This is where believing the truth comes into play. This is where I must redirect what I feel to be true of God to rehearsing what I know to be true of him. This is where God’s Word speaks straight to the pain.
What about you? What mess are you in at the present moment?
Are you dealing with a disease, or even a temporarily illness, that seems to be holding you back from activity? Are you in the middle of a nasty family feud? Are you married to someone who does not love the Lord? Are you about to lose your job?
Here’s what is so good: the relevancy of God’s Word stands throughout time and generations. It it for you and for me, right here and right now. Joseph and Jacob, for example, experienced their own slew of messes within their lifetimes, and we have much to learn from their stories.
Let’s remember one particular story from the end of the book of Genesis…
…Jacob is giving his blessing to Joseph’s two sons, which will continue the promise of God to multiply a people for himself from their family line. The scene is reminiscent of a previous one (can you guess it?) where Jacob tricks his father, Isaac, into giving him the birthright that belonged to his brother, Esau.
Deception in Jacob’s boyhood was followed by a series of messy life circumstances: fleeing from Esau and having to settle in a new land; wrestling with an angel of the Lord; raising twelve sons, some of whom were rebellious murderers; and grieving the loss of Joseph, his beloved son, when he is sold into Egyptian slavery by the very same hateful brothers.
It seems that Jacob’s mess could have very little good come from it, right?
Yet, in Genesis 48, we see him at the end of his very full life, having seen his sons reconciled to Joseph (now the governor of Egypt) and his two grandchildren receiving the blessing of God’s promise for his people. This mess wasn’t what it seemed.
Read Joseph’s words to his repentant brothers from Genesis 49:
“Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 49:20-21)
What the world, the enemy, and the flesh intend for our evil, God intends for our good. This is the marvelous promise of Scripture to you and to me, despite our various life-messes and, in fact, right in the middle of them.
God’s story most certainly doesn’t end there. For from the line of Jacob and Joseph, from the line of King David, there is born the Promised One, Jesus Christ, who would save the people from their sins by bearing their iniquities on the cross.
Here is the astonishing truth we must know about the supposed “mess” of the crucifixion:
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with [Christ], having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Colossians 2:13-15)
Read that last verse again. Can you believe this?! The most atrocious act of human and spiritual hatred in all of history, come to pass by human hands and ordained by God himself, was intended for good. The enemy inaugurated and delivered his own defeat! When Christ was nailed to the cross, God had already planned the victorious resurrection and ascension of his Son, Christ proclaiming to the world that death no longer has any hold on those who trust in his ability to save the lost.
Oh Lord Jesus, if you could take something as horrible as your death at Calvary and use it for our salvation, how much more can you transform our present circumstances into eternal good? How could you not be glorified by our sufferings? Take our messes and make them beautiful conduits of your grace and mercy, reflections of the sufferings of Christ, and a witness to our world. Make them to serve your glorious purposes, and fill our hearts with the living hope of your resurrection.
For our light and momentary afflictions — our earthly messes — are preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison! The cross makes good of all our mess.