Healing and Hope
For the next two years, my part-time job and our simple living arrangements made it possible for both of us to study God’s Word deeply, assess our hearts, wrestle with past trauma and fears, and learn to trust God in areas where we had previously kept him at arm’s length. We slowly moved toward each other, working through our wounds, and reconnecting where we had lost trust.
The 22-month discipleship program at Harvest USA helped me in several ways. Each week we learned to become more and more vulnerable with each other, sharing personal failings, past wounds, and current struggles and calling one another to live more obedient to God’s will. We built transparency and trust and prayed for each other knowing we were dependent on God’s strength in our battle with sin. We also encouraged each other to develop a support network at our churches, recognizing how important it was to have others help us when the program was over.
Amid it all, God did not abandon my wife and me. Even when I cried for help while still unwilling to change my behavior, he was patient with me. I was a wandering sheep, but he was a pursuing Shepherd (Ezek. 34:12; John 10:11; Ps. 119:176). I was stubborn and recalcitrant, and he remained unwavering in his fatherly discipline. I didn’t know it, but when things seemed darkest and hopeless, he was at work behind the scenes.
Similarly, despite the hurt and loneliness my wife felt due to my sin, she held onto the promise that God would be a faithful husband to her (Isa. 54:5). When she cried out to him in prayer, she found him to be a comforter (Isa. 51:3; 2 Cor. 1:3–4) and counselor (Ps. 16:7).
Only Christ Satisfies
C. S. Lewis was right. God loves us so much that he will use painful experiences, even pain itself, to awaken us from being overly content with our attachment to worldly ease and the comforts of this life. He takes us through such difficult times not to punish us, but to make us more like Jesus. It is not easy, but we learn to love him more through it.
To bring about the deep and lasting change in our lives, God didn’t just change our circumstances—he broke the power of reigning sin by dying on a cross.
Such trials and times of testing are evidence of God’s undying love for us. In them, he reveals to us the folly of thinking that the transitory pleasures of this world will satisfy.
But we also learn how far he is willing to go to show us that we will only be truly fulfilled and happy when we seek him first. To bring about the deep and lasting change in our lives, he didn’t just change our circumstances—he broke the power of reigning sin by dying on a cross. By doing so, he set us free indeed! As the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Rome, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (6:22–23).
Barr, Jim "It Was the Worst of Times, It Was the Best of Times"Harvest Ministries USA https://harvestusa.org/it-was-the-worst-of-times-it-was-the-best-of-times/ August 31, 2023