By: William Henry
Is God punishing you? Is he to blame for your sorrow and suffering?
Absolutely not. Your sorrow and suffering is your own doing through your sin and lack of repentance, or the devil’s attempts to bring you away from God’s loving grace. To understand this, we need to understand who God is and what His methods are. We need to understand the pattern of Repentance.
Rebellion is where we find ourselves when we are in sin. We are choosing our will above Gods, sin instead of righteousness. We are prodigal sons and daughters, believing our way is best. For those of you unfamiliar with the story of the prodigal son, the summary is this.
A man has two sons. One who is faithful to always do what his father asks. A son who helps and keeps up with things around the house. He tends the flocks for his father and makes sure his father is taken care of. The other son, the prodigal, is the son who constantly does his own thing. He is the son always playing video games and scrolling through Facebook rather than keep up with his chores.
The hard working, disciplined son, is always looking to please his dad. The other one, doesn’t care if dad is pleased or not. He only seeks to please himself. After reaching 18 years old, the selfish, son, the prodigal son, decides he wants to go out and live on his own. He wants to do what he wants, when he wants, the way he wants. But, he needs his dad’s money to do it.
He goes to his dad and demands his inheritance right away. During the time this was written, this son is telling his dad he wished he was dead. All he cared about was his inheritance not about the relationship with his dad. Before we go any further, maybe this is the point you need to evaluate your relationship with your Father in Heaven. Are you looking for the inheritance without the obedience and faithfulness? Are you asking Jesus to save you while you live a life of sin? I would encourage you to evaluate yourself and know where you stand.
To continue the story, we find the father willing to give his son everything that he has promised. The son takes his inheritance and bids his family goodbye. He takes off with his portion of his father’s gifts and heads to the big city. He is going to live his way! Fast and furious!
The story quickly takes us through this young man’s waste of his inheritance. The young man finds he has lots of “friends”, women, drinking, gambling partying and all kinds of great times available to him. Then, one night he swipes his card and gets the “declined” message. He realizes, he has spent everything. He realizes he was buying beers for his friends and the women were all flocking to his debit card. They loved the bottle service he was providing at all the best clubs.
Now we find the young man friendless, no woman wants anything to do with him, he has no food, he has no place to live, he is out on his own with nothing. He finds himself cleaning toilets and washing dishes for scraps.
Jesus tells us in the Bible,
13 Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. Luke 15:13-16
The young man finds himself hungry and desperate. Maybe you are hungry and desperate. Maybe you find yourself unable to satisfy the yearning in your heart. You are trying to figure out what is missing, and you have tried so many of these same things to fill the hole. Yet, nothing satisfies the hunger you have. What happens to this young man? Let’s continue the story.
The young man realized he was in a dire situation and it was entirely his fault. He realized he had rebelled. That he had chosen the wrong path. He realized he wasn’t responsible with what his dad had given him or taught him. He had wasted his inheritance on sin and temptation. In the next verse, we see the young man has come to his senses. He has decided that his only answer is to go back to his father and beg him to give him a job, even the lowliest of jobs.
17 ”When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ Luke 15:17-19
We see a portion of the principle here. The young man was in rebellion. But due to his haste to live his own way, he wasted his inheritance. He found himself in ruin. The young man is now evaluating his choice and has decided he will go back to his father and seek forgiveness.
The only way we can move out of rebellion is be placed in ruin. It is from ruin, we seek repentance. We seek repentance with the hope of reconciliation. Our dream is to be restored. To be placed back where we were. However, the devil continues to condemn us and tempt us. We find ourselves going back and forth between rebellion and ruin. We never make it to repentance, because we keep trying to do it on our own.
I used to condemn myself and justify my continued rebellion with the idea that I would never be good enough, so what would be the point of repentance? I would just continue to rebel. My dad lives in this rebellion now. He lives in poverty because any time he a little money left midway through the month, he believes the lies of the devil. He will justify gambling through buying lottery tickets.
He will tell himself “I don’t have enough to make it to the end of the month anyway, $50 isn’t going to help me. But, if I could just get a winner then maybe I could win $100 or $500 and I would be okay. But maybe, I could win a $1,000,000 and not have to worry about money anymore!”
Maybe you are this guy. Maybe you never have enough money to make it to the end of the month, so you gamble away your last little bit. Maybe, you think the only way to make it is through crime. Maybe it’s drugs. Maybe you can’t make it, so you spend your last $50 on liquor just trying to drown away your depression. Whatever the case, this is the devil’s way of keeping you from repentance. This is his way of keeping you in rebellion. He doesn’t want you to find your way to repentance. Through repentance, comes reconciliation and that leads to restoration. God wants restoration with you, the devil wants rebellion and ruin.
As we continue with the Jesus’ story, we find the truth about repentance. We learn what happens to the prodigal son after he has spent his inheritance, has nothing left and realizes that he just needs to suck it up and go back home. What happens when a prodigal, rebellious and sinful son comes back to kneel before his father and ask for forgiveness? Does his father turn him away and tell him he has created his own suffering and must live with it? Let’s find out.
20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22” But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. Luke 15:20-24
Here we find the truth. Repentance leads to reconciliation. Reconciliation leads to restoration. Not only did his dad take him back, but he celebrated his return by bringing a feast and clothing him. He put a ring on his finger. He restored his son back to his place.
This is the exact process of repentance and accepting Christs gift of salvation. You have the same opportunity to find yourself in His presence. The Bible tells us we are saved by grace through faith. Grace is extending that which we do not deserve. It is through the mercy of God we are given Grace. Mercy is not giving us what we do deserve.
We need to understand we are all prodigal sons and daughters. We are all offered the same inheritance. We all have the same choice to make. We can either be thankful for the inheritance and live to honor and glorify our Father in Heaven, or we can continue to live in rebellion and squander the gift. We can choose to live in suffering and sorrow of our own doing or we can live in the peace and joy of God.
If you find yourself, as many of us have, in rebellion, restoration is only a prayer of repentance away. Just as the father in the story Jesus tells us celebrated the return of his son, so will God rejoice at your return. Jesus has made a way for us, He offers the same inheritance. The same gift of joy and peace is available for you as it is for every one of us.
I can speak from experience. I was rebellious and trying to live my way, looking for affirmation at my job to fill the void. I was looking for money and material things to satisfy my desires. Fortunately, God is faithful. He never gives up. He continued to pursue me. I finally came to my senses and repented. I told God I sinned against Him and I was dishonoring Him with my life and my choices. I told him I sorry and asked for His forgiveness. I thanked Him for all He had done, all He was doing and all He has planned for me. He began to replay all the amazing and wonderful things He had done in my life, even in my own
rebellion. He showed me so many wonderful things I had taken for granted. He demonstrated His love for me throughout my life even in my rebellion. He showed me that my suffering was a result of my own choices, my own will. He showed me how much joy He has for the relationship we have. I thank Him every day. I thank Him for the smallest of things, because for me they are huge things. I thank Him for every breath and every step I take. I want to encourage you to stop the rebellion. Repent. Be reconciled. Be restored. You can NEVER out give God.
Most importantly, I can tell you from experience…..He never gave up on me.
The truth is, He will never give up on you.