Challenge Central: a CBC devotional
By: Pastor Lars Janssen
Today, I had the opportunity to hear about what God has been doing in a friend’s life. As the story progressed, it was amazing to hear about God sustaining through sorrow, protecting from fraud, and evangelizing the lost. The story was filled with deep sadness and yet resonated with an even deeper hope at what God was doing in and through the hard times.
The harrowing nature of this person’s story left me in awe of God’s creativity. Despite the sorrow, disappointment, and loss of this person’s journey, the common thread was God’s ability to turn bad into good. God took a loss in the family and used it to turn every surviving family member into a minister to others experiencing loss. God took a potential instance of identity fraud and used it to deepen relationships and showcase his brand of undeserved forgiveness. God took the sole believer in a family and, through that one, is opening the door for salvation to the unbelieving family members. This is our God! He is the one who takes the broken, crooked, and the dead and makes something wonderful.
Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live” (John 5:25). He’s talking about resurrecting the spiritually dead. Spiritual death is the horrible final step in the sin-filled brokenness of the lost. And though our lives display much brokenness, Paul said, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). This doesn’t mean that everything will feel good—Jesus specifically warned that his followers would be betrayed, beaten, hated, and killed (see Matt. 10:16-23). What it means is that God will ultimately use all of it for good. No evil is beyond his redemption—even the dead can live because of him!
If the voice of the Son of God can raise the dead, he can do anything. He can make something good out of the most awful stories. The hope of Jesus means that people’s stories matter. They matter because they become evidence of Jesus’ ability to mend the broken and to make the dead live. Our stories matter because of Jesus’ story.
As we listen to each others’ stories alongside Jesus’ story, we start to recognize that Jesus is the answer to every broken tale. Not only can he turn sorrow to joy, but he can speak the dead back to life. He came for the broken and the dead. With this in mind, we see our limits. When met with stories of the suffering and the broken, my words will not do and neither will yours. We must resolve to speak God’s words. Our words may mean well, but God’s words—the Bible’s words—are so powerful that even “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”