Thank you for joining us in prayer today for the prodigals and for revival. We pray in faith, knowing that God answers prayer. It’s not easy and often we don’t know how God will answer, but He does know what’s best. Have you ever judged too quickly whether or not the situation you are in is good or bad? Or if God is really in control or not? To be very transparent, “I have!”
Recently, Rachel and I listened to a TED Talk given by Heather Lanier. She was talking about the hardships and blessings associated with her daughter who was born with an ultra-rare chromosomal condition called Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. She was missing a chunk of her fourth chromosome. This brought significant developmental delays and disabilities. Some with this disability never learn to walk or talk. In telling the story she spoke of an ancient parable that I would like to share:
There was a farmer who lost his horse. And neighbors came over to say, "Oh, that's too bad." And the farmer said, "Good or bad, hard to say." Days later, the horse returns and brings with it seven wild horses. And neighbors come over to say, "Oh, that's so good!" And the farmer just shrugs and says, "Good or bad, hard to say." The next day, the farmer's son rides one of the wild horses, is thrown off and breaks his leg. And the neighbors say, "Oh, that's terrible luck." And the farmer says, "Good or bad, hard to say." Eventually, officers come knocking on people's doors, looking for men to draft for an army, and they see the farmer's son and his leg and they pass him by.And neighbors say, "Ooh, that's great luck!" And the farmer says, "Good or bad, hard to say.”
From a Christian perspective, we can confidently say that God makes no mistakes, but also in our broken, sinful world, things are not what we want them to be. Sometimes it is the failure of others that affect us and sometimes it is our own sin that brings distress into our lives. The great reality of God’s redemption is that He is able to bring good out of bad situations. But, as the story about the farmer illustrates, we need to be careful not to judge a situation too quickly.
Today in our daily readings, we have completed the journeys of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land. They took forty years to make a trip that could have been done in less than a month. It would be easy to say, “What a waste, what a disaster, what a tragedy!” In some ways, it would be true, but maybe we should say, “Good or bad, hard to say.” Moses challenged the people by saying, “And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that He might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not” (Deut 8:2). We know that those who left Egypt all died, but for those who entered, God was making them more humble and more obedient.
We wonder at a tornado that claims the lives of many people. We question the decision of a wayward daughter. We weep over an assembly being racked by division. We grieve over a miscarriage that takes a precious child. We pray for a prodigal that has wandered for many a year. And the list goes on, and on, but through it all God is working, working in us, working in others, working through the muck and mire of life with the purpose of making us more humble and more obedient.
As you pray today and reflect on the journey of your life, with its ups and downs, remember the words of the farmer, and leave the final results to God.
Warmly in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel