Last week, I posted about thanking Christ for our sufferings. I mentioned that in my own life, I have faced the challenge that is Crohn’s Disease. This battle has at times been challenging. Anyone who knows me knows that I am very outspoken about my faith, but being the imperfect human that I am, my faith has at times weakened significantly. There were times where I have asked God, “Why!” “Why me?!” and sometimes I have even yelled and have gotten angry with God. At these moments I start defining myself and my life as I am sick, I am hurting, I am in pain. Too often (and even once would be too often) I ignore the blessings God has placed in my life. Too often I forget just how much I am loved by the awesome God who created me.
Although I hate it when I get discouraged as humans tend to do, I absolutely love it when God shows me His presence and his unfailing love. And sometimes He will show me this love through my amazing family including: my Dad who has conquered so much and still proclaims God’s wonders in his life, my grandparents who always lift me up when I feel the least bit discouraged; and all of their precious kiddoes that brighten my days with their smiles every time “Joshua enters the room.”
The other day, as I walked to my 20th Century Europe class, I listened to “Completely” by Among the Thirsty, and when I heard this song it was as if God was saying to me, “You are never alone, I am right here. I’m not going anywhere. Put all your hurt aside and just come to me. I am stronger than everything that you could ever go through.”
God was saying this to me as I listened to these lyrics:
I am completely surrendering
Finally giving You everything
You’re my redeemer, I run to the cross
Because You are more than enough
Lord complete me
Cause I’m Yours completely
The words “You’re my redeemer” reminded me of something my friend Mike Perry once said as he was praying with me last year, “Lord, let Joshua realize how awesome you are. Instead of him saying, ‘I am weak, I am broken, I am sick’, let him say ‘I am redeemed. I am loved. I am fearfully and wonderfully made by the God of the Heavens, the God that created everything in existence and took time to create someone like me, the God who goes before me, the God who will never leave me!” Those weren’t his exact words but the gist of what he was praying for me and somehow it stuck with me.
In every circumstance, we have two choices:
1.) We can choose to be defined by our circumstances and by what the world tries to tell us OR 2.) We can choose to be defined by the most awesome and mighty God who loves us.
When I think of this, I am reminded by the story of Zacchaeus.
Luke 19:1-10 describes the story this way:
1Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” 8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Everyone else looked at Zacchaeus and said, “Look at this sinner.” He probably felt unloved. Maybe he felt that he was nothing but a traitor, someone that’s greedy and selfish. But he wanted to know Christ, to change the way he looked at himself. Like Jesus loved us, He loved Zacchaeus. And like He did with Zacchaeus, He tells us “You are mine. You are redeemed. You are loved by the one who created the stars in the sky and the Earth around you!”
When Zacchaeus saw himself through Christ, he was a changed man. He saw himself no longer as a greedy, selfish traitor, but someone that was REDEEMED!
We all experience hardships, and many of you may in fact be experiencing hardships as we speak, but know that you are never alone. I challenge anyone who reads this, myself included, to do this:
Instead of defining yourself as, “I am sick. I am broken. I am alone. I am afraid. I am ashamed. I am tormented. I am persecuted. I am struggling. I am in pain.”
Define yourself as, “I AM REDEEMED. I am fearfully and wonderfully made by the one who created the heavens and the universe. I am strong because though I may be weak, through Him I am strong. I am loved by the one who shed His blood and died a painful death just because He loved me! I am chosen by Him! I am protected by Him! I can do all things through Him who gives me strength! I AM REDEEMED!”
I AM REDEEMED!
I personally have health problems and while I may fall short in doing so myself, I challenge everyone:
Instead of defining yourself by your weaknesses, define yourself in Him saying, “I AM REDEEMED!”
Among The Thirsty. Completely. By Ryan Squitieri and Stephanie Lewis, 2014. K-Love. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.
New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.
Completely by Among The Thirsty
Greater by MercyMe