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Joy Restored

Have you ever witnessed an old rusty, beat up car being restored to an earlier version of beauty? I love seeing the new ones on the road but if I saw it before it’s restoration I might turn away and not even notice. Or I might comment on how beat up it is!

I’ve been doing the Bible study by LifeWay, The Faithful: Heroes of the Old Testament. Each week is authored by a different Bible teacher and this week I’ve been studying Jennifer Rothschild’s portion on Hosea.

I’ve been challenged to take a look at Hosea’s wife Gomer at her worst and at her best. Kind of like the before and after of an old car. One of my favorite parts is found in Hosea 2:15 as God is telling Hosea about how He will restore Israel again one day to an earlier time of joy: the leaving of Egypt to head toward the promised land.

There I will give her vineyards back to her
and make the Valley of Achor
into a gateway of hope.
There she will respond as she did
in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came out of the land of Egypt.  

Hosea 2:15

But in the mean time…here we have Hosea in a marriage with a former prostitute who returns to that place of shame even after marriage and children. This is such a picture of how Israel continued to turn to other gods and disobedience of the one true God, over and over. It also speaks of how God redeems them from that place over and over and restores them with His love. And it reminds us that we are so much like Israel as we choose our own path time and again and when we repent, we experience that joy of restoration.

Jennifer refers to the passage in Joel 2:25 about God’s restoration of what the locusts have eaten. Again, we see God speaking of Israel and restoration of what they have lost. Israel would be “completed” (safe) from the damage done by the locusts.

I will repay you for the years
that the swarming locust ate,
the young locust, the destroying locust,
and the devouring locust —

Joel 2:25

I also think of Job who lost everything except his life and his wife! After being tested by Satan (with God’s permission I might add!), although he will not have his first children with him again on earth, God restores more children than before and more possessions as well. Job did find joy once again.

What we see over and over here, no matter what difficulty we go through on earth, as long as we breathe, joy is ahead for us as we walk with Jesus. He is a Savior of restoration of hearts…for salvation, for hope, for healing, for trust.

I’ve personally experienced blessing after great pain…restoration of broken relationships, laughter after mourning death, trust after betrayal, joy after great sadness. And I fully believe Romans 8:28:

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

I can trust that God is still in control since I KNOW He is sovereign and that He has a plan. He is conforming us to the image of Jesus thorough it all as we see in the verses right after Romans 8:28. Read verses 29-30:

For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.

Paul prays an encouraging word to the Philippian church as he and they are facing persecution and struggles of following Christ. He wanted them to know he was proud of them and that God was still at work in their lives:

I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

Jesus is at work in our lives until we see Him face to face! Keep taking the next step and watch for His presence through it all.

There is a new book release by one of my favorite authors and Christian examples, Elisabeth Elliot. Elisabeth is with the Lord now, but her daughter has released this new message by a woman who truly knew suffering. I cannot wait to read Suffering is Never for Nothing. Perhaps this will encourage you as well.

Maybe you feel like an old beat up jalopy right now. Perhaps you are in the middle of a storm that feels impossible to live through. Remember…you do not walk it alone. Jesus is with you every step of the way. He will restore if you walk and do not give up! There will be joy again!

Banner photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

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