Hope for the Sinner
“ . . . if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14
Joyce and I had a great adventure last week. We went to Lowe’s just to walk around and look at plants. Not exactly the same level of thrill experienced in high-elevation rock climbing, but in the midst of the Corona Virus stay-at-home order, we felt the thrill of risk all the same.
It was a sunny day, and a few others had ventured out too. Some were wearing masks but some were bare-faced and lovin’ it. We greeted others with the happiness of those just freed from prison. We were finally doing something normal, and our hearts surged with hope. Hope that things will get better. Hope that this trial will come to an end.
We bought a hanging flower pot to celebrate our first day of freedom with a splash of color. We raised it up like an “Ebenezer” to remind us that God is still our rock of help. ( I Samuel 7:12)
Days like these remind us of all we’ve lost. In spite of daily prayer for an end to the lockdown, the days drag on. We wonder, “Is God hearing our prayers?” Or is it possible that this is God’s discipline in response to our sin? We despair of the miracle for which we plead; will our request ever be granted by Almighty God?
God’s people pray for an end to the pandemic. We pray for God to fix our governmental gridlock and failing economy. We pray that no one we love will become ill with Covid-19. Nothing wrong with these requests, but we need to consider the Biblical model for making our requests known during times of bondage and captivity. Times like these call for prayers of personal and corporate repentance and a wholehearted return to God.
In the book that bears his name, Daniel is presented as holy and blameless before God. His devotion to prayer was so great that it earned him an evening in the company of lions. There is nothing in the text to imply that Daniel’s personal sin or lack of devotion forced God to deliver the Jews into captivity in Babylon, but his prayers would work toward their deliverance.
Daniel prayed in an attitude that fully identified him with the sins of his people. He never placed blame on others or raised himself up as the standard of righteousness. His brokenness over his people’s suffering led to humble prayers of repentance. Daniel didn’t pray “Lord, forgive those wretched sinners,” but instead “we have sinned, done wrong, acted wickedly, rebelled, and turned away from your commands and ordinances.” (Daniel 9:5) He humbly identified with the sins of his people and God heard his prayers.
It’s time to repent. Repent of the willful disobedience of our nation and our people. And repent of our personal transgressions against God. And of the sins of a weak and compromised American version of Christianity. This repentance is intended to lead us to a wholehearted return to God by His church.
Following full repentance, Daniel cried out, “For we are not presenting our petitions before you based on our righteous acts, but based on your abundant compassion. Lord, hear! Lord, forgive! Lord, listen and act! My God, for your own sake, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your name.” (Daniel 9:18b-19)
When God’s people humble themselves and pray, repenting of divided hearts and weak devotion, He will restore His church. When we turn from “our wicked ways,” hope and courage will flood back into the hearts of His people.
And we will all raise up Ebenezer stones to the God who is our only source of help.
Praying for you,
One thought on “Never Alone”
Thank you for the reminder of hope. Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we fear no evil. We are walking through. This valley is not the destination. There is hope on the other side!