From An Unexpected Place
Ok, so this may be the most encouraging thing I’ve ever read from the Bible … and from a completely unexpected place.
It’s from an Old Testament prophet named Zephaniah. His name means “meek” or “afflicted” because he lived in a time and place where the weak were exploited and abused. And he felt the oppression of it in his soul every day. In a way that I can’t fully understand, God prompts him to write out a promise 640 years before delivery. It’s a promise of what Jesus would bring into any life that fully embraces Him.
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV)
For me, this qualifies as the most encouraging thing because of what I know about myself. I feel how far short I fall every day from being who God created me to be. Honestly, I’m a mess on the inside. Really mingled (and mangled) motives. Very selfish desires. Scary harmful attitudes. And I’m too ashamed to show you who I really am because I am most afraid of what you would think of me. My heart is full of a lot of dark matter.
This is why the gospel of Jesus is the most important thing ever. He came to rescue us from all that dark matter in us. And to heal all the harm in us. Jesus came to destroy the effects my sin has on me, and the harm my sin inflicts on others around me. Zephaniah’s promise is made good in Jesus because “all the promises of God find their ‘yes’ in Him” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
He is Mighty to Save
It may be the most encouraging thing because “he is mighty to save.” Jesus’s death paid a kind of price for my sin that cancels my guilt before my Creator — forever. That means I can live in an amazing kind of freedom — freedom from guilt — forever.
He Delights in You
It may be the most encouraging thing because “He will take great delight in you.” When I embrace Christ, God the father embraces me in the most incredible way. His love chooses to adopt me as a son and as an heir — even though I’ve come to him with the grime and stench of the prodigal all over me. It means that even though He knows me fully, He chooses to delight in me. To be fully known by Him and fully delighted in by Him means I never have to feel shame again.
He Rejoices Over You
This is what makes it the most encouraging thing ever: this promise gives me permission to believe that God delights in me, that He rejoices over me. Trusting the truth of it, believing the promise of it, has the healing of every sickness in my soul.
His Delight Changes You
Huge question: how would you be fundamentally different if you came to believe that God delights in you, that He rejoices over you?
It could become the most encouraging thing in your life.