There are days when my children struggle, when they wallow in tantrums and trouble, when they move from one poor choice to another. There are days when they need to be pulled close and saved from their own destructive impulses. In these moments, my own sinful anger sometimes collides with the situation and I find myself stuck in the muddy mire of irritable selfishness. How easy it is to become lost in our own unrepentant lives.
The prophet Zephaniah had a message about just this issue and though it was originally spoken to Judah, it applies to us today as well. Zephaniah shared a serious warning about the destruction that was to come to Judah, though he also was clear in reminding them of God’s deep love. He affirms the humble and meek and offers comfort to Jerusalem, even in the midst of such a tumultuous time.
On the days of chaotic clamoring and deliberate disobedience, my children need the same from me. Even in my frustration, I can find humility and from that place, speak truth and grace over my family. Pulling them close, I can use the words of Zephaniah to remind them of God's truth.
"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).
And the comfort that Zephaniah offered to disobedient Judah can become a blessing to my children as well. God offers all of his disobedient children a place of belonging in his love. Each one of us longs to know how loved we are by God above, even on the hard days. Correction belongs in the context of unfailing love--especially on the hard days.
As we go through the darkest times, there is comfort to be found in knowing how loved we are. He sees our lives, our weaknesses, our need for repentance and holds out His love for us nonetheless. There is comfort in being reminded that God does not struggle with human frailty. No, we will not be spared the consequences of our actions--nor was Judah. But, we will be enfolded, saved, quieted by the One who loves us best. God's comfort provides us the strength to face challenges. As Ephesians 4:15-16 puts it:
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
As I share these words with those I deeply love, the truth of God's love will settle gently on my heart and mind, as well. This truth is a beautiful gift to all God’s children, big and small. Because my children are not the only ones who need these words of peace. God's loving correction is essential to our growth as his disciples. Within the comfort of God's love, we are empowered.
Rev. Dr. Steven Koster