19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,
20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, - Acts 3:19-20
God takes our attitude very seriously. We know from the story of the Israelites that God does not tolerate our grumbling or complaining, but rather delights in our humble submission to Him. Repentance comes from that humble place in our hearts. The Israelites had opportunity after opportunity to stop grumbling and repent, but continued to be prideful even after they witnessed God's punishment on an entire generation. Instead of learning from their parents' generation, who were left in the desert, the children of those disciplined by God chose to do things their way as well. They were instructed to go through Edom, but since the Israelites feared the Edomites and didn't trust God, they chose to go around Edom. God sent serpents to bite and kill the people for their disobedience. These stories are in scripture specifically to teach us - there is so much we can draw out of this one small story and apply it to our own lives. These people were in the desert, wandering for 40 years. They were in a long-standing trial. Instead of looking to and trusting God in the trial, and repenting for their sin, they chose to do things their own way, and there were consequences.
When we find ourselves deep in a difficult trial, we respond the same way as the Israelites, don't we? We are constantly looking for a way out of the trial, how do I solve this problem so that it ends? What am I supposed to do? Or we look ahead to a more difficult trial, like walking through Edom, and we say no thanks - I'm going to avoid that trial by choosing this path. What we should be doing instead is pausing and reflecting on our hearts in prayer, and repenting for what God reveals to us. The reality is that if we find ourselves deep in a trial, or looking ahead to a more difficult trial, more often than not, the trial is a consequence of our sin. If we struggle with our finances, our self-image, our emotions, in a relationship...it's most likely our sin that got us here. If we struggle to find peace or joy, or we find ourselves trapped in patterns of depression or anxiety...it is the result of our own doing. We often don't want to admit that it's our fault, so we spend energy looking for other reasons or excuses, when all we need to do is repent to find the freedom we're looking for. God had so many blessings in store for the Israelites, if only they would repent...and He has the same in store for us if only we repent.
I don't think the cancer is my fault, but my attitude in this trial certainly is my responsibility. Like the Israelites, I've been grumbling and complaining because I want to go back to work. I want to feel stronger. I'm tired of not being able to do the things I want to do, and I'm tired of sitting on this couch. I don't want to be weak. God forgive me for complaining for where you have me in this trial. As I've pondered our verse this week, I've been trying to dig deeper than simply confessing my grumbling attitude at wanting off my couch, looking for the deeper sin issue I need to confess. A conversation with a friend yesterday helped to to uncover the issue at the root of my grumbling - a portion of my value and my identity are still coming from others, not solely from Him. So much of where my self worth comes from still exists in the world, so much of my validation still comes from what I do. This trial has removed my ability to get out there and do what I love to do, and it's frustrating to me because I find such value in what I do - whether it's teaching my students, serving my family, or serving my church. God needs to be the entirety of my identity - I need to find my value in Him and Him alone. He is enough. Repenting of my sin for finding my value in this world, and praising Him for loving me enough to pursue me reveal those parts of my heart I cannot see on my own.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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