Yesterday, I shared the news about a friend, Sam, who lost almost all he owned when his home burnt to the ground.
As Sam stood amidst the thinning layers of smoke and surveyed the scorched metal and few surviving items strewn across the charred ground, an Amish gentleman came beside him. With a voice and expression lathered with empathy, the man, also a neighbor, offered to bring in a crew to clean up the damage. Knowing the complexities attached to such labor, Sam hesitated. He then asked the man to give him an estimate for the work so that he could present the bid to his insurance company.
With gentle firmness, the Amish man shook his head. “There will be no charge for the work. You are our neighbor…we want to help you.”
Rendered momentarily voiceless by the selfless gesture of his neighbor, Sam caught his breath, cleared his throat and thanked the kind man.
Later that day, another man came to Sam’s property…this man didn’t come to help…he came to steal. The thief was caught loading the last of Sam’s salvageable possessions into a truck.
Doesn’t that just extract the breath from your chest? It did mine. Knowing that someone could be so marred as to rob a man who had been sucker punched by devastation rocked my stomach with nausea.
After hearing the contrast between the two men who visited Sam’s effete property, I immediately thought about the piercing differences between our enemy and our Savior.
Like a thief, Satan holds no qualms about preying on the vulnerable. He cackles with delight when one’s defenses wobble…and then he attacks. He steals not with his hands, but with the lies of his tongue.
“You have nothing…you’re pitiful and worthless,” he says as he picks up fragments of joy and sticks them into his dark sack.
“No one wants you. You’ll always be mediocre…second-best…and that’s if you’re lucky…more likely than not, you’ll be a failure,” he shouts as he rips portions of peace from your limp grasp and shoves them with the slivers of stolen joy.
“Even God hates you,” he spits. “Think about it, you would never be in this mess if the Almighty loved you.” And with that most heinous lie he seizes hope, leaving his victim lying on the ground…ravaged…blanketed with cinders.
The enemy, a despicable swindler and a depraved deceiver, is the antithesis of Jesus, the Savior.
Jesus, the embodiment of love, does not delight in despair…He does not take from us when we are weak…He restores. He is the voice of truth.
“You are my beloved, and I will never leave you alone,” He whispers while opening his nail-scarred hand to offer you a love that begets joy.
“I faced scorn for you…bore bruises for you…spilled my blood for you…writhed in agony for you…and even though you question me, I am still and will always be on your side.” After those words are spoken, He lavishly furnishes your spirit with peace.
“You’re mind was not constructed to understand how deeply I hurt when you hurt, but please believe I do. I’m here now…in fact, I never left you precious one, and I will help you rebuild…please let me help you. For now you stand in an ash heap, but when I’m finished you will be surrounded by beauty.” And with that truth hope is restored.
When fire sweeps through your life, I pray that the attempts of thievery from the enemy will be thwarted so that a time of rebuilding resulting in splendor will occur.
Isaiah 61:2-4 (New Living Translation)
He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations.