Restoration after Hard Times

FUN. What a word for such a time as this. I must admit that when we chose this word there was a small part of me that got excited about the notion of being able to focus on something lighter and positive. And who doesn’t need a little bit of that right now – can I get an “Amen”? I know I speak for so many when I say after a couple of difficult years, I can use some fun.

I’ve never been into making New Year’s resolutions, but at the beginning of each year, I do take time to think about a word I want to focus on for the upcoming year. There’s no special formula to this; I often do this in prayer and reflect on any themes or words that stick out to me, or journal to see where God leads me. In early January as I started to think and pray about what word He might give me, several themes and phrases came to me. A couple of them made sense… they challenged me to grow in new ways. But one word came to me that, while comforting, left me baffled with what I was supposed to do with this word. The word was “Restoration”. Ahh… After a couple of really hard years going through really hard things, that word alone brought a bit of joy to me. I knew it had to come from the Lord because in my own right, I simply couldn’t even fathom at that time thinking about restoration much less what that might look like in my life for the coming year. But nonetheless, I wrote the word down knowing that the Lord would work it out for me.

Interestingly, within weeks, I had two invitations to travel to the beach. One was a last-minute getaway for a dear friend’s birthday and the other was a surprise birthday gift for me by two close friends. A gift!? To the beach?! To say I was overjoyed receiving that is an understatement. After all, the beach is one of my “happy places”. The mere thought of soaking in the sun, sand in toes, listening to the waves, epitomized rest and relaxation. To add to the fun, already in my calendar was an opportunity to travel with colleagues to Israel over Spring Break.

Then it hit me. Restoration. Wow. Did God work that out for me, and He did not waste any time! Three wonderful opportunities to get restored. Now how fun is that?

After these last couple of years walking through unspeakable pain with some of my closest friends, it would be easy to convince myself that the last thing I should be doing is having fun. Who am I to deserve this? Fun at the expense of what? Forgetting pain? Feeling guilty that I’m smiling and my loved one is not? Of course, the logical side of my brain tells me that that is a lie from the enemy, and that likely God’s response to that would be, “Fun at the expense of nothing. Simply fun.” But how to prepare my heart to receive that?

There is an emotional piece that is attached to this that cannot be denied. It is not lost on me that restoration does not mean forgetting hurts and moving on. But I also know that restoration is needed. And when Jesus restores something or someone, it turns out better than it ever was. We may have scars that show what we have been through, but they are only a testimony of God’s love and power. After all, Jesus was crucified and buried, but when He rose again, He was fully restored. In the Bible, restoration is always in abundance. God wants it for each and every one of us.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

– 1 Peter 5:10

Our Heavenly Father wants great things for us. Going all the way back to the Garden of Eden, the Lord perfectly designed us to live in a perfect world, so when plans change or shift on us, and/or when indescribable pain hits, we have to trust that He will deal with us. He is the only One who can provide true restoration. He is the ultimate Restorer.

Psalm 23: A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

He restores my soul. You see, I am confident restoration would not even have made its way to me had I not walked through some deep valleys these past couple of years. Anyone living the good life, problem free, certainly does not need restoration. I’m pretty sure the Lord is going to deal with me in a lot of ways over the course of the next couple of months as I face restoration. These trips will absolutely be a source of life-giving time and rest, and even fun and laughter, but I know that God wants me to seek Him in these opportunities. To notice how He is showing up and restoring me and the people and things around me.

The Lord has built restoration into every single one of our stories, the question is, are we going to seek Him and receive it from Him? The really hard things that we have been through certainly don’t get erased or forgotten, but they can be restored. They can be restored here on this earth as Jesus brought His Kingdom here, but we also know that ultimate restoration is waiting for us in His glorious eternity. Praise the Lord if I can receive just a glimpse of that now here on earth!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the ultimate Restorer. I’m so grateful for Your Word which reminds me that You restore my soul. I pray for all my friends and loved ones who are hurting and are in pain, that You bring healing, restoration, and redemption so that they may proclaim your victory and share the good news. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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