Breaking the Cycle

“And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.” –Deuteronomy 10:19 (NIV)

The Israelites had gone through untold suffering in Egypt. As slaves under their Egyptian overlords, the Israelites were an oppressed people; discriminated against and forced to endure miserable conditions because of their Hebrew blood. For centuries they prayed for deliverance, and in His perfect timing God rescued them out of their enslavement in Egypt and into freedom. However, God warns them not to use the freedom He is given them to become oppressors themselves.  The Israelites had been through a lot and it would have been natural for them to treat the foreigners in their midst with contempt as a way of exercising the power they were once denied. Yet God called them, and us to a higher standard; loving others regardless of who they are so that His love and righteousness may be displayed to the world.

When we have gone through suffering ourselves, we can go either two ways. We can choose to allow our suffering to taint our interactions with others and subject them to the tyranny we experienced, or to love others remembering what it was like when we were in their position. Too often we gravitate to the former because our sinful nature wants to restore our broken pride at all costs; even if that means shattering the pride and dignity of others. Instead of bringing healing however, this only serves to continue a destructive cycle of misery that no one truly benefits from. The only way we have any hope of breaking this cycle is when we have allowed ourselves to be transformed by the love of Christ. When we have allowed Him to enter our hearts, he will teach us how to love in the way which He did for us, sacrificially and unconditional. Rooting ourselves in Christ we will no longer feel bound to our past hurts for we have been restored by the work of His Spirit within us. Having found our confidence and security in Him, we will allow His love to overflow from our hearts, knowing that we live in a broken world in desperate need of the healing work of Christ.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Firm in the Storm

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” –Psalm 55:22 (ESV)

Being close to the Atlantic Ocean, Nova Scotia is a place with many boat owners. When I was working there one summer, it was a common sight to see many different boats sailing in and around the harbour. One day however, it was announced that the province would be experiencing a severe storm with very powerful winds. All of us had to get anything outdoors inside our homes and I heard of many boat owners scrambling to the docks to secure their vessels. The way they did this was remarkable. Using ropes and anchors they were able to ensure that their boats were not carried away by the storm. Granted the boats may have been rocked by the power of the winds, but they remained in one place; firmly moored to the docks.

How can we survive the storms of life? It is a question that often surfaces in our minds when we are in despair. We feel as if we are being tossed about by our circumstances, never knowing whether we will be able to endure it all. In our anguish we cry out for security and strength to live and we turn to all sorts of things in the hope of attaining what we seek. But what ends up happening is that when storms come, these cords which we have trusted in to keep us secure are prone to snap; leaving us at the mercy of the wind and the waves. Where then can we find that strength which will last us through the unendurable? It is only when we have rooted ourselves in Christ. When we have allowed Him to enter our hearts and submit ourselves to Him, He will lead us according to His perfect will. By living in obedience to Him and trusting in who He is, He will not allow us to be overtaken by the storms around us; empowering and sustaining us to preserve as He works through our situations for His great purposes.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Song of Strength

“The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” –Exodus 15:2 (NIV)

I once remember coming across an interesting account of a group of Christians in ancient Rome. Persecuted for their faith in Christ they were in chains and were being led to the coliseum to be ripped apart by wild animals. But what struck the people observing this procession was that the Christians were singing and celebrating! Where there would normally be weeping and mourning, there was joy and a confident expectation of a glorious hope. The sight struck people both as odd and as admirable that these children of Christ would have such boldness in the face of death. It has been proven that part of the reason that Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire was the witness of these Christians under persecution; causing many to seek to learn more about Christ and accept Him as Lord.

How often do we have the same attitude in the face of suffering? When confronted by adverse circumstances, the song in our hearts is usually one of despair rather than hope and joy. Feeling crushed under the weight of our trials we feel helpless and weak. Such feelings then give way to hopelessness and we succumb to a defeatist attitude which tells us that victory will forever elude us. However there is hope in the Lord of the Universe; who stand omnipotent over all. When we have allowed Christ to enter our hearts and work in our lives, he will strengthen us by His Spirit. In leaning on Him and allowing ourselves to be rooted in His Word, we will find that strength and boldness which only comes from knowing that He works all things together for His perfect plan for us. Resting in Him we will be able to sing boldly, even in the direst of circumstances, for as Romans 8:37 says, “…we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Christ has overcome sin and death through His own death and resurrection. As His children who have become like Him in His death and resurrection, we have a strength derived from the eternal hope of being made one with Him.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.