Reflection: God Accomplishes His Purposes

…Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight 

Hebrews 11:34

Sometimes work is thwarted by our weakness. We fall short of the mark. If we recognize that our work is hobbled by disobedience, resentment, laxity, fear, selfishness, and other ailments, we can find comfort in the stories in the Bible.

Consider the list of names in Hebrews 11: Abraham, Samson, David, and more. When we read their stories we can clearly see their failures which were often significant. For example, if we read about Barak’s timidity as a general (Judges 4:8-9, NIV) through human eyes, we likely would see no faith at all. Yet God sees these heroes’ faith through his eyes and credits their success to his grace, not their own accomplishment.

The story of Jonah is another example. Jonah ran away from God by boarding a ship going in the opposite direction God told him to go. Yet even Jonah’s small, halting moments of obedience to God end up blessing those around him. On the ship, he acknowledges, “I worship the Lord, the God of heaven” (Jonah 1:9, NIV) and sacrifices himself for the sake of his shipmates.

As a result, the others on the ship are saved from a storm, and they become followers of the Lord. “The men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him” (Jonah 1:16, NIV). God accomplishes the fullness of his mission through Jonah’s halting, flawed, intermittent service. By God’s power, even our poor service may accomplish everything that God intends.

We can take heart in these examples when we’ve stumbled. We may have spoken harshly to a family member, been impatient with a friend, ignored our responsibility to our family, or done our work poorly. But we have faith that God is able to bring about his intent for the world even in the midst of our weakness and failure.

Prayer: Father, thank you that I am no different from any other person who has served you. We have all sinned and fallen short at times. Yet, you still use our efforts to accomplish Your purposes. You are a great God. Amen.

MEDITATION

The stops of a good man are ordered by the Lord as well as his steps.
—Müller