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God Sometimes Uses Those Who Use Us

God Sometimes Uses Those Who Use Us

We’re all heroes of our own stories. We’re the stars of our own lifelong movies. When something happens, it happens to us. And when people hurt us, they’re the villains, right?

But here’s the thing we forget:

Our stories — as much as it might seem like they revolve around us — are actually part of a much, much bigger story.

We’re all characters in God’s own book. And each one of us plays a part in that book. That includes you. And me. And the guy who cut you off in traffic. And the friend who stopped calling. And the son or daughter who cut off all contact with you. They might’ve done terrible things. They might even seem, right now, to be terrible people. But God still loves them — loves them in ways you can’t even imagine. And He still has a place for them in His story — a part that He wants them to play.

In Jeremiah 29:11–14, God said,

For I know the plans I have for you . . . plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you... and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you... and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile. — NIV

God told this to His chosen people, who were literally in exile at the time. But it’s just as pertinent to us today. So often we separate ourselves from God, but He’s still waiting for us. He still has plans for us. And as hard as it can be to hear (because I know it’s hard to say), He still may have plans for the people you dislike, or people who dislike you. Remember, Jesus was surrounded by people who hated Him — and He died for them. Can’t we find it in our hearts to be a little more forgiving ourselves? Especially since Christ directly told us to?

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.Matthew 5:44–45

  • Are you okay with God using someone who used you?

That’s one of the most difficult questions a Christian can ask of himself or herself. When we’re hurt, every instinct in our body tells us to hurt someone back. When some people smack their heads into an open cabinet door, they slam the door as hard as they can — as if the door will feel appropriately punished for hurting them. You stub your toe, and you’re half tempted to kick whatever you stubbed it on — even though it’s going to hurt you even more. The more it hurts, the more we want to hurt back. And the longer we nurse that hurt, the longer our anger and bitterness can fester and grow. Remember the old cliché that time heals all wounds? It’s not always true. Anyone who has ever felt like they’ve been betrayed knows that some wounds continue to fester.

God commands us to forgive.

Jesus never got bitter. But even the Son of God was hurt as His hours on earth began to dwindle and the number of people leaving Him began to grow. In John 13:18–30 Jesus told the disciples that He knew all about the plot to betray Him to the Romans — and He knew who was behind it. Judas took a piece of bread that Jesus gave him and “went out immediately.” John added a poignant visual for us too — so symbolic of this betrayal: “And it was night” (John 13:30).

That must’ve been the hardest hit for our Savior, but it wasn’t the last. In Mark 14 Jesus told His disciples that they would all deny Him before the night was through (Mark 14:27). When Peter insisted he’d never deny Christ, Jesus said,

Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.Mark 14:30

Then, as if that wasn’t enough, in the garden of Gethsemane Jesus begged Peter, James, and John to “stay here and watch” while He prayed (Mark 14:34). But three times when Jesus came back to see them, He found that every single one of them was sleeping. “Could you not watch one hour?” Jesus said in verse 37. I can imagine Christ’s voice was full of sorrow and exasperation when He said it. Jesus knew that, before the rooster crowed, all of them would leave Him again. They’d leave Him before He’d leave them.

All Jesus’ closest companions left Him that night, in one way or another. Judas left literally — breaking with the Son of God in an unmistakable way (even if the other disciples were a little confused about it at the time). They slept when Jesus really needed them. They ran away when the going got tough. That happens in our lives too. Sometimes our friends let us down. Our family can turn their backs on us. They walk away. They go to sleep. They deny us.

Jesus hurt, just as we all do when people go. And you know what Jesus did in the middle of it all? He prayed. In Matthew 26:36–46, Jesus prayed three times as His best friends fell asleep. In Luke 23 He prayed alone, on the cross:

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. — Luke 23:34 NIV

Who left Him? Everyone. But He prayed about what was left: the assignment. The sad, frightening, and glorious mission of the cross.

And here’s the most amazing thing. Those disciples who fell asleep when Jesus begged them to stay awake? Those men who denied Christ when they promised they wouldn’t? God wasn’t done with them either.

Peter, who denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed twice, became the leader of the early church — the “rock” that Jesus said he’d become (Matthew 16:18). James was killed by Herod, according to Acts 12 — his passion for God apparently putting a bull’s-eye on his back. John? He wrote a good chunk of the New Testament, from his own Gospel account of Jesus’ life to three powerful letters to the book of Revelation. Christian tradition tells us that, outside Judas, all of Jesus’ disciples made mighty contributions to the Kingdom of God. They might’ve failed Jesus at a crucial moment. But God wasn’t done with them. God used them.

And He can do the same for the people in our lives. The people who walk away. The people who leave us. The people who hurt us. God’s not done with them either.

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land, — God said in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

If people come before God with humility, God just might say to them, “Apology accepted. Now, let’s see what you can do.”

It’s a good lesson for us. For me especially.

Excerpted with permission from Are You Praying for the Wrong Thing? by Travis Greene, copyright Greenelight LLC.

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Your Turn

Forgiving is hard even though God commands it from us. Even harder might be appreciating that God will continue to use the people who have hurt us in the past. God’s not done with us and He’s not done with them either! ~ Devotionals Daily