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Weekly Devotionals

Better Than It Was

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;  his love endures forever.

2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
3 those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.

4 Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle.
5 They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away.
6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.
8 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
9 for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 because they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the plans of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
16 for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.

17 Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
18 They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy.

23 Some went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters.
24 They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep.
25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves.
26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards; they were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders. –
Psalm 107:1-32

Every Wednesday morning the staff at Jubilee has a time of devotion. One of us shares something that God has put on our heart and we spend about an hour responding to it. It is a time for us to be a community and hear how we’ve been doing in the midst of the work we do together. Weeks ago, the theme discussed was redemption and as we began to share stories of how God redeems us, the topic kept us fixed on it for over a month! Hearing how God is present in our lives, working through our pain, shame, fears, isolation, etc., and not only getting us through it but redeeming it has been riveting and inspiring in a new way.

Often when we think of being saved, we think of only the moment it happens. For example the moment a person is rescued from a burning building or the moment a person gets pulled away from a speeding car. When we think about God saving us, perhaps we do the same thing. We think about moments of significance, such as when you almost got really hurt in an accident but miraculously got saved or when you almost did something really stupid but God stopped it through a crazy event. Often we stop at mere moments even when we think of God’s redemption of His Creation. We think of only the parting of the sea, or the birth of Jesus, or the crucifixion.

Yet there is always something bigger and deeper that is happening when God is acting for his people. There is a redemption story being written. Salvation is a big part of it but so are the difficulties that are endured. The way God works in the midst of our trials to transform us is the beautiful part of redemption that fills us with hope.

In our stories of redemption, the main thing that is happening isn’t simply bad things being removed from our lives but rather it is experiencing bad things being redeemed. The bad isn’t forgotten but rather a crucial part of the good that is happening, a catalyst to our lives becoming better. In other words, the difficult parts of our lives somehow, through God’s presence and participation, are what make our lives better because we are transformed and humbled.

Sometimes difficult times may feel like it is dragging on but I want to encourage you this week by reminding you that it is still a part of a redemption story! When we are trusting in God and following Him, He is making even the most painful times something that will bring us joy and peace in His perfect time.

Merry Christmas everyone!