Kathy and I talked about it and we both agreed that what we'd gone through would seem to be an opportunity for us to allow God to use the consequences of sin and the lessons we learned (spiritual and otherwise) to help others facing similar circumstances. She came to our home and spent about two hours with us and I was struck by the similarities to what Kathy had faced in 1987; how does one find hope in such a dark place? This woman and her children were torn with fear and shame at what had happened to their family because as Achan found out (Joshua 7), one man's sin does affect others including your family. Achan thought that his sin would remain hidden with the spoil he'd taken, but his sin did become known and not only he, but his entire family paid the price for his rebellion. Achan's family must have known of his perfidy because of where he'd hidden his stolen goods, but this poor woman knew nothing of her husband's behavior until he confessed to the police who came to their home to arrest him. As she related it to us yesterday, there are other things that she is still learning as the discovery process goes on prior to his trial and she has become overwhelmed with fear and not knowing if there is hope for her family to ever return to normal.
She is a disciple of Christ and knows the promises of Scripture that all sin (no matter how 'big' or 'small') has been paid for by the sacrifice of our Messiah, but the consequences in this life can make it seem as though there is none. What Kathy and I shared with her is that no matter how dark the night or severe the storm, there is hope in Christ. The image I used for this speaks to me of the hope that we do have in Jesus. He holds onto our hand, not the other way around. Were our strength and will all that kept us in Christ, then we would be lost forever; but it is His hand that holds ours and He will never let us go.
Yes, there will be times throughout all of our lives when it seems that we are alone and bereft of hope, but remember that in Christ we are never alone and our forever hope is as certain as if we are already Home. As Job's friends did initially, Kathy and I mostly listened to this dear lady and gave her both of our phone numbers as well as our emails so that she can reach out to us at anytime. We also encouraged her to return to our home, considering it a place to come for reassurance and comfort. We all need such at times and it is wondrous that God can use my sin and the consequences of that act (that really are ongoing still) to bring comfort to others. Romans 8:28 has been used (and abused) as a panacea for those in the midst of a struggle, but Paul's words to the church at Rome are an incredible promise that Kathy and I are seeing lived out daily. More importantly, that which follows the wonder of how God can use even this to bring good into the lives of those He loves is an incredible promise that we are never alone.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, 'For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.'
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:35-39 ESV
Yes, there is hope for us; no matter the depths to which our sin plunges us or how dark the night we are in, His presence is there and He will never leave us. That is forever hope!