“So will I save you, and you shall be a blessing.” Zechariah 8:13
Many Christians avoid “the little books” of the Old Testament. The collection of minor prophets (they’re even called “minor!”) at the end of the first part of the Bible contains obscure references and often harsh language. But as in all parts of the Bible you find the inspiration if you simply look a little more closely
Here’s an example: “And as you have become a byword of cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you and you shall be a blessing. Fear not, let your hands be strong.” (Zechariah 8:13)
All of the prophets fulfilled their callings during dark and difficult days. This is no less true for Zechariah. He, like his colleagues, pronounced God’s judgment upon a faithless and cruel nation. The first part of the verse is hard and typical of what often make these minor prophets hard to read.
However, you will notice here, as throughout the minor prophets, that the promises of light stand out against the darkness of the words of doom. This verse has its share of darkness. Israel and Judah would fall and would become a “byword of cursing.” Yet we also see the light. God would save them.
Perhaps that’s where you are today. You’re wandering around in the darkness of doubt, or discouragement. You’ve been looking for a job too long. Trying to sell a house. Navigating your way again through a tricky relationship. Mourning the loss of a relationship you’d relied on. The darkness falls in countless ways and every day has its share of shadows.
Here’s the good news: God delights in saving you. He will, you know. It’s true that the bad times pass. Every midnight has its dawn. The reason for this hopeful rhythm lies in God’s very nature. He truly does delight in blessing us.
I once heard a minister say that God is not concerned with our happiness. That sounded profound. And there is truth that if we’re seeking solely to be happy, or if we expect God to eradicate all challenges, then we’ve surely underestimated what it means to live in a fallen world. Life is hard, and no amount of faith is going to insulate us from all the hardness.
However, if we don’t think God enjoys making us happy then we’ve missed a signature trait of the Father of lights who showers us from heaven with every good gift and perfect endowment (James 1:17). The fact is God enjoys blessing us in an infinite variety of ways, and most of us enjoy long seasons of reasonable prosperity. Our cups runneth over more often than we notice.
So if you’re feeling like “a byword of cursing” right now, you’re simply in need of saving, and God has a good track record of doing precisely that. Hang in there. Keep praying. Keep trusting. Keep your eyes more on the joys of heaven than the troubles of earth. Your time of deliverance will come!
But notice the reason God saved Judah and Israel. It was not only for their comfort, consolation, or to make life easier, or clearer. God saved them so that they will be a blessing. God’s renewed promise to the people of Judah and Israel recalls God’s first promise to Abraham that all the nations would be blessed in him (Gen. 12:2-3).
God’s blessing in your life is sometimes wholly intended for you. He will reassure or comfort you. He will give you insight or courage. Wonderful! Receive that kind of blessing with joy. Your Father loves you deeply.
But always remember that the blessings are almost always social and intended to be shared in some way. I call it grace-weaving. Grace is love in action. Physics provides a good analogy here. Love creates a kind of field of potential. It’s an energy. Grace is the catalyst that makes something happen. The energy of love is released through an action of grace.
Grace-weaving is really a fun way to live. The other day I was traveling through some south Louisiana hinterlands and stopped at a roadside convenience store to fill up and get a Diet Mt. Dew. As I approached the door a young fella who looked like he hailed from those parts had opened to door to let his two lady friends enter and then held it open for me. He nodded and said “afternoon sir.” He’d been raised right. I do love the south. He didn’t know it, but he’d woven a little grace into my day.
As I was about to pay for my drink this trio came up behind me, and I said to the cashier “put this all together.” I wove a little grace back into their day. The two young ladies said “thank you sir.” They’d been raised right too.
Now you may be thinking that I’ve shared this little story just to make myself look better to you, and truth be told I can’t say that’s not mixed in the motivation somewhere. What I do know clearly is I left that store with a smile that stayed with me for miles down the road. I like to think they left with a smile too. And I'm fairly certain God smiled.
You may very well be the blessing that God has for someone else today. Don’t neglect the opportunity to encourage, to guide, to pray for another person. Write the note, or visit. Help in some way. You can never tell how much it will lift the clouds from another person’s life. I know for sure that it will lift the clouds in yours.
Don’t underestimate the importance of small acts of grace. Just weave it into your day. It’s the reason God saved you. It’s the reason God blessed you.
Dr. Terry Ellis
July 14, 2017