Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and of great kindness” (Joel 2:13).
Let me start with the words to a chorus God gave me when I was in the pit of self-loathing and condemnation:
I remember, Lord, the joy of serving You;
I remember, Lord, when all I knew was You;
Flowing through me, calling to me,
Lord, please use me once again!
Ever been there? Of course you have. We all have, and it’s one of the toughest places to escape, isn’t it? We have this innate need to punish ourselves and then attempt to climb out of that pit of self-loathing and condemnation on our own. But each futile attempt results in our slipping back to the bottom, more frustrated and discouraged than before.
Now I know this won’t come as any great revelation, since we all know this fact, but perhaps it will be the reminder you need today to STOP TRYING TO CLIMB OUT OF THE PIT! It’ll never happen. No one has ever done it before, and no one will ever do it in the future. As we lie there in our own filth, bemoaning our helplessness and depravity and remembering with great sadness and regret how God once used us and the joy that accompanied that service, may we also remember the great truth that only God can pull us out of that pit—and He stands ready and willing to do so.
Joel 2:13 reminds us of the stunning yet never-changing character of the God who has redeemed us: He is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.” In other words, He’s not like us. He doesn’t hold a grudge or run out of patience or love. He doesn’t take pleasure in punishing those who have wronged Him. His grace and mercy are never-ending, and He longs to extend it to those who have fallen so that He can restore them to service once again.
Each of us who has received Jesus as Savior and been assured of spending eternity with Him has also been called by God to serve Him and others. We will never do that if we remain in the pit of our own sins and failures. We all land there on occasion, but WE DON’T HAVE TO STAY THERE! In fact, we are disobedient if we do. God calls to us, even (and especially!) while we’re in the pit. He wants us to reach up to Him, to ask and receive His forgiveness, and to allow Him to lift us from the pit and place us back on solid ground.
Allow Him to restore to you the joy of His salvation and once again use you in His service. There is no greater joy, beloved.