By Lisa Robinson
I’ve been contemplating this theme lately. Restoration is needed when something has been damaged or broken. It has lost its usefulness for its intended purpose. The reality is that many, if not all reading this, have experienced loss and devastation in our lives. We have endured painful circumstances that have left a hole and lack of restoration. To restore something is to fix it, to bring it back to its intended use. Restoration happens when those holes and damages are fixed and filled.
I believe that God is very much in the restoration business and he provides this as a gift to those He loves. As Christmas is near, it is a reminder of the brokenness of our spiritual condition and the fact that God became flesh, dwelt among us to fix us, to bring us back to the purpose for which we were created.
But I believe there is more to restoration. I get the sense sometimes with Christians, that this should suffice, that being reconciled to the Father because of the sacrifice of the Son should fix everything that has been broken in our lives. Now it is true, that what gets mended is the broken connection to the Father. We were lost and now we are found. Justification ensures peace with God (Romans 5:1). Rejoice in that and be content.
However, there might be broken areas in our lives, marred relationships, open wounds, painful experiences, unfulfilled dreams and tragic losses. Is it enough to have Christ, to be made new in Christ and then live with these things as if they don’t matter? My observations of Christian life suggests that it might be believed that wholeness comes simply with the joy of realizing our redemption. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard that if we have Jesus, we have everything. That fixing our eyes on Christ, will bring restoration to those broken areas. The sentiment is that somehow the loss or devastation that tragedies brings is of no consequence.
The problem, I think, is that it presents a rather gnostic view of Christian spirituality. I believe from the witness of scripture and the observation of the Christian landscape, that God is interested in the total person. Can we really expect for tragedy, loss or devastation to not have an impact on us? Now I do believe that God can heal hurts and wounds, but I am referring to something more than just healing.
The spiritually maturing process, while necessary for productive Christianity and growing intimacy with Christ, might also produce a hindrance to desiring restoration. At least that has been my experience. Anyone who has seriously walked with Christ for any length of time can attest to the disciplinary actions of a loving Father who wishes to purge and prune, so that we can bear greater fruit for His glory. Trials can be crushing and the disappointment all so real. We are told to lose our lives and to offer ourselves to God, which is only our reasonable service. And sometimes we do suffer loss. But if we are not careful, this process can also condition us to believing that unmended occurrences should be part and parcel of the Christian experience.
Yet, in scripture I see a God who is very much interested in reviving the whole person, not just the immaterial being who should float on a spiritual cloud, while other areas remains shattered. God is interested in restoration.
I am reminded of Job, who underwent unspeakable tragedy ordained by God to prove his loyalty. Job lost everything and was inflicted with physical and emotional pain, exacerbated by his pious, undiscerning friends. In the end, Job was restored and with more than what he had before.
I am reminded of restoration when the incarnation met with the broken human condition. Look at the people that Jesus touched, the poor, the outcasts, the despised. These were damaged people who experienced loss. While I do believe that Christ’s miracles were in relation to highlight him and his redemptive purpose, his actions demonstrate that God is indeed concerned with the whole person. It was not just to affect an intangible faith but to transform that with tangible realities. People were fed, clothed, healed and put in their right mind. What was out of joint, was put back in place.
One story that really stands out for me is the story of Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52. When Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, approached Jesus, his angst over his broken condition caused him to cry out ‘Son of David, have mercy on me.’ When Jesus asked him what he wanted, notice that Bartimaeus’ response was not ‘I only want to serve you Lord’ or ‘just let me follow you’. The impetus of his cry was that the very source of his pain, the very thing that put a stumbling block to his progress, ‘Lord, give me my sight’. Bartimaeus was anxious for restoration.
But the disciples told him to be quiet. I think this is what happens in many of our churches, our piety insists that people should just grin with whatever loss and brokenness they suffer and keep it quiet. There is no need to emphasize what is wrong in our lives. Just follow Jesus and grow up. So many trod along and quietly ache with unrestored places.
The reality is that unrestored places hurt us. They hinder us. They keep us from fully experiencing a God who truly loves us, They might communicate that maybe God really does not care or is unconcerned with our lives. We might start believing that we don’t matter.
Now, I am not suggesting that we have a divine right for healing or that we will not experience loss. No, I am not suggesting that at all. Sometimes that loved one DOES die, that divorce DOES happen, that child DOESN’T come home, that illness DOESN’T go away. But what I am saying is that restoration compensates for that, it fixes what tragedies broke. It may not come in the same form of what was devastated, but can be replaced with something better. And I fully believe God is interested in giving his children better.
I personally think that is a healthy thing to desire and pray for. I think it is reasonable to expect that God can bring restoration in our lives. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above anything we can think or ask, according to the power at work within us (Ephesians 3:20). I think he delights to show that he is very much in the restoration business, that will deflect the glory back on to him. I count on that in my own life.
So for those reading that have experienced loss or tragedy in their lives, my prayer is that you lift up your head and pray that you might experience the gift of restoration. And give all glory to God when you do.
Merry Christmas everyone