Night Has Its Work (My Redeemer Lives 4:1)

When I was a small child, I was terrified of the dark. My parents would tuck me into bed and go back downstairs to watch television or talk by the fireplace. I laid awake listening and waiting for something to come and get me. I would creep into the hallway and sit by the railing to the stairway. My parents would find me there an hour or so later when they came up to bed and gently guide me to my cozy pillows and blankets again.

For whatever reason, a nightlight was never enough for me. I wanted the light of my parents’ attention, their love, and, mostly, their presence to fall asleep.

The good news is I have outgrown my fear of the dark. Praise God—I was a little worried there for a while in college! Just joking. 😉

And in becoming a parent, I have noticed just how common a fear of the dark is in small children, and even not-so-small children. Why? Why is it so common, even in homes full of daily care and affection? Why is it just so hard for children to rest peacefully in the dark at night?

I think we can gain some insight into both childhood fears of darkness and all the light the resurrection gives us in one swoop today, by looking at Luke 23:44-47 –

44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!”

In this passage we see darkness at its very worst. The Scripture is dead honest in Luke 23:45:

…while the sun’s light failed.

It wasn’t just dark — the sun was not capable of giving light at the moment of Jesus’ death.The Greek root for “failed” in the text is eklipontos, from the word ekleipó meaning to fail utterly, to leave out, to come to an end, defunct.

This is purposeful darkness, and really, since the creation of the world, darkness, alongside light, has been in the hands of our God.

Children do not have the understanding to accompany these considerations. I can say to my children, “God is with you. He’s right beside you.” But for them, my physical presence is what reminds them over and over that God is near. They are learning and growing in the Word as we share it in our home, but God is building understanding and trust in them as well. They are not yet there, just as I am really not yet there when we start talking about metaphorical darkness.

The darkness presses in within our lives and it is easy to forget that God gives purpose to it. Some purposes we will see this side of heaven—light will dawn as we read the Word and God gives us insight and understanding into our situation. For other pieces of darkness in our lives, we will have to wait for understanding to dawn when the New Creation comes with Jesus on the clouds.

What else happened in the moment that the sun utterly “failed” in Luke 23:45? Look back at the passage again to remind yourself.

When the weight of our sin was poured onto Jesus and darkness entered this world in a way it had not seen before, salvation also broke through and brought Light. Hebrews 1:10-13 uses the same Greek root word, eklipontos, to describe the greatness of our Savior in contrast to the world, and even the angels from whom we seek protection in our beds as we lay in darkness:

And,

“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands;
11 they will perish, but you remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment,
12 like a robe you will roll them up,
    like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
    and your years will have no end.”

13 And to which of the angels has he ever said,

“Sit at my right hand
    until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? (emphasis added)

Darkness feels like an end. Certainly that darkness that enveloped the world at the time of Jesus’ death did for the disciples, for those gathered, but God brings Light, and His name is Jesus. Light is resurrected.

Dr Arthur A. Just, Jr. reminds us in his commentary on the final chapters of Luke, “Here during Jesus’ crucifixion, the darkness signals the imminent conclusion of God’s work of redemption.”

While darkness seems imminent, oh, is Light ever magnificent and eternal.

Night has its work. It is purposeful. God uses even this. Morning will always dawn in Christ Jesus.

Night has its work, but morning will always dawn in Christ.

You can download this Scripture card and one for every day of the week at PureJoyCreative.com.

Don’t forget this week’s Bible margin to help you reflect as you study.

Join the discussion by sharing your thoughts and insights in the comments, here and on social media.

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Wrapped in Love

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*Arthur A. Just Jr., Luke 9:51–24:53, Concordia Commentary, copyright © 1997 Concordia Publishing House, p. 942. All rights reserved. Used with permission of Concordia Publishing House.

Making Sense of All the Calamity (My Redeemer Lives 2:3)

Fear and failure never rear their ugly heads stronger than when the acid rain of life comes.

The “Why me-s?!” of life easily turn into “If I would have…” when we begin to feel pelted with life at its junkiest  — loss, humiliation, disappointment in humanity, the uphill climb. To avoid our fears, in a vague attempt to make sense of all the calamity of life in our own lives and around us, things like blame, bitterness, broken relationships, and isolation become realities that weigh heavy in our chests.

There is the story of a woman in 1 Kings 17:17-24 who couldn’t make sense of calamity. She lashed out. But God provided an answer…a resurrection kind of answer.

Read 1 Kings 17:17-24 –

17 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18 And she said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!” 19 And he said to her, “Give me your son.” And he took him from her arms and carried him up into the upper chamber where he lodged, and laid him on his own bed. 20 And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” 22 And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives.” 24 And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”

Don’t miss verse 18 and verse 20. Both the woman and Elijah end up with questions for God:

“What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!”

And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?”

We always jump to look for sin when calamity comes – Who messed up? Was it me? Was it my spouse? Was it my friend?

This woman had a close connection to Elijah. In the very same chapter of 1 Kings in verses 8-16, immediately preceding the previous reading, the woman experiences an honest-to-goodness miracle through Elijah, acknowledging the might and power of the One True God  — food for many days, unspent oil, provision.

What was the problem then? What happened? Why this meeting of fear and faith in verses 18?

Asking questions during times we don’t understand is always a good start; let’s give the woman that. Fear and all the feelings of failure  — our own or that of others  — spoken is a lot less powerful in our lives. Questions are not the problem.

Matthew Henry puts it like this –

“Our mountain never stands so strong but it may be moved…”

The miracle, the provision is an important act of God. However, when we place our faith in the mountain, in only the tangible acts of God  — provision, stability, prophets and preachers, breath and life we can see in front of us  — we will be disappointed in what God offers time and again.

We end up looking at God and saying, “What the heck?! What is this? Which sin are You punishing me for?” We see ourselves as big enough to escape the destiny of a broken world, but then the mountain is moved and crushes our hope.

Instead, God offers us more in the Resurrection of Christ Jesus –

Hope that cannot be seen.

Romans 8:23-25:

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

We are all imperfect in our response to God, even Elijah. But God does not demand a perfect response. He answers Elijah and the widow with a promise, a foreshadowing –

3 times Elijah lays on the boy

3 days of death Jesus sat in a dark cavern

And then Life.

This story of Old Testament resurrection reminds us that our confidence is in things not seen, mountains of stability in the storm like the peace that passes all understanding, joy constant, and eternal Life today.

Our questions, our fears are met with answers in the Word of God, and in calamity we see Life because of the Resurrection.

Look for the Life. Think of a recent struggle of your own, or a report you have heard on the news. Where is God working Life? What promises of God remain despite it all? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

This is our resurrection God, making sense of calamity, bringing Life.

When Life Feels Not-So-Fresh (My Redeemer Lives 1:1)

Welcome to My Redeemer Lives!

I love the first day of a study because everything feels fresh.

My intentions are fresh, my pen seems filled with fresh ink, even my Bible gives off fresh-page vibes, just waiting to deliver insight to my brain cells.

It’s important to breath in fresh for just a moment, because, most of the time, life feels not-so-fresh.

Routines, monthly payments, staring in the fridge figuring out what to eat, classes, errands…

what feels not-so-fresh in your life?

Then there is the darker side of not-so-fresh.

There once was a man named Job who knew about not-so-fresh, and that’s putting it lightly. He sat in not-so-fresh. He knew emotional struggle, loss, and a life turned upside down, but it wasn’t all drama-drama. Instead, I think one of the hardest parts of Job’s story is that he had to sit in all the muck for a while.

Job 2:12-13

12 And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. 13 And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.

And this is just the first week.

Job has wounds- holes in his heart where his loved ones’ laughter used to be, unrelenting sun where his roof used to give him shade, and now personal, physical decay in his flesh- infection, boils, rot. (Um, gross.)

Job laments and his friends seems super supportive for about a millisecond. Then they pick up the salt shaker, guised as “helpful suggestions” and add salt to his wounds.

Not only does Job have to endure all this pain, but now he has to endure crappy advice. Gag.

Job’s friend’s advice and explanations take up half the book of Job. Their “thoughtfulness” says nothing more to Job than,

“Oh, look at you and all your problems.Clearly we are better than you. Clearly we are more loved than you. Clearly we are doing something right and you are doing something wrong.”

Not-So-Fresh Friendship is what that is, right there.

But for all this bad advice, all it does for Job is turn him back in on his own misery. Job had real, physical pain. The disease he experienced, the destruction of all he held dear was physical destruction.

What physical struggles make them aware of their weaknesses?

What physical struggles do you have in your life?

 

In his weakness, God’s answer to Job is a physical promise recalled by Job, himself, in our theme passage for this study:

Job 19:25-26

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
    and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I shall see God…

Problems in life are often physical, or very physically impact us.

Resurrection is physical too.

Job tells us that he will see God in the flesh, not as a spirit or vague idea. This same flesh that decays will see a greater promise.

Read the NIV translation of the next verse, Job 19:27-

I myself will see him
    with my own eyes—I, and not another.
    How my heart yearns within me!

Skin destroyed, eyes that fade…

What part of your body makes you keenly aware that your body is passing away, decomposing faster than we’d like?

Here’s mine- hard, grey hairs that stick up like electrical wire; weird throat wrinkles that feel thick and sloppy at the same time; slowly losing my singing range to vocal cords meant only to last so many years.

The promise of resurrection reminds us that rebuilding is coming. Fresh is coming. While struggle and not-so-fresh, even death, is part of our story, it’s not the end of the story, nor is it even the climax of our plot.

Physical pain and physical problem remind us of a greater promise. We sit in the physical reality of this decaying world and its violence and disasters, political upheaval, and uncertain footing.

Some days look fresh and some days look not-so-fresh. Sometimes we stand in the promise, sometimes we sit on that ash heap with Job, but either way:

I know that my Redeemer lives is the fresh song in our lungs.

Because He sings a fresh song over us each day until we physically see eternity –

Resurrection

Restoration

Fresh and new.

You can download this Scripture card and one for every day of the week at PureJoyCreative.com. (LINK)

Don’t forget this week’s Bible margin to help you reflect as you study.  (LINK)

 

Join the discussion by sharing your thoughts and insights in the comments here and on social media.

 

Catch the week one video here:

Destruction to Resurrection

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