When We’re Repaid Evil for Good

It has never been easy for God’s people to set about to build.

Building requires vision. Envisioning something that isn’t there but needs to be. Holding onto a vision that others may not see. Clinging to a vision when dark forces try to snuff out the light that illuminated the original dream.

Building is never easy for a man or woman of God whether it’s building a life, a family, a home, a community, a ministry, a church, relationships, bridges, or kingdoms. It’s always a battle.

Which surprises us, even though it’s a pattern as predictable as the seasons, that God’s people must work and fight against darkness and death to reach life and light.

We know this from the womb as we fight our way out even as our mothers labor.

Entering every promise land, even land gifted to us by our loving Father, requires sweat and effort and opposition and endurance before we may rest in the possession of it.

And didn’t our Lord labor and sweat and suffer and bleed as He fought through the cross and death to possess our salvation?

It’s never been more true that we can rest when we’re dead. Perhaps the initial silence in heaven is just the long well-earned nap many of God’s people deserve.

There is always a battle. Don’t ask me why. These days, I have very few answers.

But as I face opposition of my own, I can testify to how unsatisfying answers are when a soul is faced with true suffering. Suffering souls feed on the hope of Christ alone.

There’s nothing romantic about building.

Plans and visions may carry an air of romance, but building is nuts and bolts, blisters and thorns. Its measuring twice and cutting once. It’s miscalculating and starting again. It’s two steps forward, four steps back. It’s back-ache, heartache, headache, handshake, earthquake real life serious as a sawblade early to bed early to rise work.

And there is always opposition requiring that we work with one hand, fight with the other.

Ask Noah who spent a century sawing and hammering in a land that had never seen rain to craft a boat designed to save the people from something they never felt threatened by.

The laughter of his neighbors ringing in his ears when he collapsed into sleep at night. Did the neighborhood youth ever undo his work from the day before as he slept? Did his wife and sons ever weary of being laughingstocks? Did people make up falsehoods about him as they marveled at his madness? Did he ever beat the dusty earth in frustration and wonder when God would send the rain?

Ask Nehemiah. He only loved His people and found his mind filled with a vision to rebuild the wall of his city. Blessed with the king’s favor by God’s providence and rich with supplies, he spoke with the people who had a mind to work.

And yet immediately, there were scoffers who jeered and despised. Hard enough to rally a stubborn people around a united cause but then there was laughter and lies. Enemies appeared like hammered thumbnails and threatened to cripple the work. Rumors, plots, threats, precious effort spent on defense, diverted from the work, but still the work. Build with one hand, fight with the other.

It is our way, we who worship this invisible God who insists that His children never have it easy because He is building something in us and with us and through us as we build our kingdoms both temporary and eternal and He wants us to become the strongest material, titanium souls gifted with grace but battered and emboldened through the building.

So when the suffering comes, do not be surprised.

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-13

When those you love and spend your heart to serve with willing sacrifice tear you apart, speak of you in lies, and close the door in your face, leaving you suddenly outside the walls you designed for their protection, remember this has been the way of all God’s children who sought to build.

And yet, we must continue to be builders. We are kingdom warriors speaking truth in a world of deceit, lighting the way in a long hallway of lies, laying down our lives as living stones to form the eternal church of Christ, and we can be no other.

Their lies, rejection, hatred, opposition, and violence cannot make us like them. We are like Christ and we will love through the pain and embrace our lives as eternal so the part we spend here, even marked with suffering, will be only a story we one day tell when we are home.

It has never been easy for God’s people to set about to build, but we are not like him who only came to destroy. We are our Father’s children – eternity builders.

We will weather the opposition together, knowing one day that the laughter of our homecoming will drown out their jeers forever.

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    The Conversation

  1. Laurie Kincaid says:

    For such a time as this, August thru November 2019, this is a powerful and encouraging reminder. Perfectly timed again, your words place what I am going through (and over and under and around) in a glorious and exciting light. Leaving my home of 23 years without my husband, I face trials daily, but with Jesus…
    Onward to the Promised Land! Always building, you have hit the nail on the head, so to speak… thank you!

  2. Karen Porter says:

    Your words are always so timely and brilliant. I have copied the paragraph about blisters and thorns etc. I shall post it where I will see it often because even when we struggle and people try to stop us, we must continue.

    Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

    2 Thessalonians 3:13 And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.

    Matthew 11:28-30 ” Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

    Bless you my friend

  3. Rob McCullough says:

    Thanks Lori. This just puts it all out there for anyone to see if they are looking. No sugar coating, yet very encouraging at the same time. It’s the nature of truth – doesn’t necessarily feel good or look pretty, but it ministers deeply to our hearts. Be Blessed!