Isaiah 49:20 “The children born during your bereavement will yet say in your hearing, ‘This place is too small for us; give us more space to live in.'”
For once I prefer the NIV here to the Japanese. The Japanese says, “the children born after your bereavement will again say…” The “again” doesn’t make much sense, and the “after” feels like they’re trying to escape the miraculous nature of this prophecy. The whole point of this is that God isn’t limited by what we think the circumstances are. Right now the world, and particularly the US, looks like a mess, but that doesn’t crimp God’s style. In a number of ways US churches were too comfortable, satisfied with business as usual and just aiming for more comfort. That’s no way to be the Body of Christ! By allowing all this upset, with actively anti-Christian people in power, the genuine believers are being forced to take stock of their own faith, and that’s a very good thing indeed. When individual believers start living in fellowship with the Holy Spirit as representatives of Christ, instead of leaving everything to “the professionals,” then God’s name is recognized as holy and His kingdom comes as His will is done. Many see what is happening as a time of bereavement of sorts, but God is going to use it to advance His kingdom.
On a personal level this speaks to me a different way. We have been in Omura for going on 40 years now, and there have been some times of real bereavement in that interval. The majority of people who have been associated with this church are no longer here for a wide variety of reasons. Cathy has been sorting paperwork from her workroom recently, and some of the records are pretty depressing. However, God is starting to bring in others that we had no direct part in attracting. He is giving us a renewed sense of purpose and hope, showing us that He hasn’t been idle in what has seemed like a relatively desolate time. I often tell others to look beyond themselves and their circumstances, because God’s plans are “good, acceptable and perfect,” (Romans 12:2) and He’s got it all worked out, but I’ve got to keep remembering that for myself as well. It’s a classic example of the reality that preachers need to listen to their own sermons!
Father, thank You for this encouraging Word. Thank You indeed for all that You are doing: the people You are bringing in and the ideas You are giving us as to what we should be doing. Help us be fully sensitive and obedient, so that Your Body may indeed grow as You intend, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!