I’m currently doing a bible reading plan, guiding me to read through the Bible in a year. I’ve been in the same plan for 2 years. Don’t judge me. It’s essentially my backup plan when I’m not sure where to start reading. I go back to my bible plan and pick right back up.
Right now, the plan has me in the book of Numbers. Sometimes it’s challenging to understand what God is teaching me through the more historical or informational passages.
Recently, God has been using a particular story to set the stage for my next area of growth. Numbers 16 reveals a challenging story of conflict. The men chosen to be the leaders of the temple rose up in anger against Moses and Aaron. There were 250 men total. The Lord instructed each of the 250 to carry censers (containers for incense) and make a presentation before the Lord. He would reveal to them all who were given His approval to lead.
In the process, the Lord brings fire and destroys the entire group. Then, the Lord instructs Eleazar, Aaron’s son, to remove the censers from the charred remains, for the censers are holy. This is the image that is stuck in my mind – the charred remains of those destroyed by the Lord’s fire. The 250 men who were destroyed were likely friends, co-workers in the temple, and neighbors within their traveling party. What an incredibly heavy and sorrowful task.
When I read this story, I was reminded of some of the friendships I’ve lost over the past couple of years of trial in our community. There are people who were in my life and aren’t anymore for a number of different reasons.
All of this creates an area of loss for me, personally. While I have been simultaneously working out forgiveness and repentance of these issues, the pain is very real. In this situation, I imagine it being a pretty brutal request to have to sift through the remains for the items intended for worship.
I believe that is what God is asking us to do. What remains from your seasons of loss that the Lord wants you to turn into praise? God uses all things for good and for His glory. Paul even writes about “counting it all joy” for trials that produce perseverance. Can you imagine being joyful over being fired, rejected, abandoned, harassed, abused, neglected, passed over, or having too little to get by?
This is how I know we serve a God who is not of this world. He calls us to do things, and experience life, in a way that is totally upside down and seemingly unreasonable. He wants us to wade through the difficult things to find the verses for our next heart song. He allows us to be pressed because He understands how it refines us and focuses us towards Him. He does not long for our harm. His understanding of what is good is greater than ours.
Are you in a season of picking up the pieces? Has your heart been broken? Has your hope for a certain future been dashed? Have you lost a friend or family member, literally or relationally? Has your trust in someone or something been destroyed? God has something for you in that loss. God holds the source of resurrection, and there is hope for even those portions of your life being made new because of who you serve!
I am so thrilled to follow a God who puts the tools for worship in the ashes of my broken dreams. He is God, Lord of all, even your loss.
Candace Cortez is Executive Pastor at Koinonia Church in Hanford, CA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 559-582-1528.