“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV)
If you’ve ever heard me give my testimony, you know part of what I share is being a little girl twirling around next to my biological daddy, wishing I could know he loved me.
Maybe in his own way, he did. But something was broken in our relationship that left me feeling desperate for reassurance. Especially when he packed up all of his things and left our family for good.
It’s hard when the ones who are supposed to love us and lead us well, don’t.
Maybe that statement rings painfully true for you. If we open up Zephaniah 3 together, we will see it is a reality for the children of Israel, too.
Zephaniah 3:3-4 vividly portrays the type of leadership the Israelites are under: “Her officials within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves that leave nothing till the morning. Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men; her priests profane what is holy; they do violence to the law” (ESV).
I can’t help but read these words and think about how easy it would be for God's people to point their fingers and attribute their sinful ways to the ones who led them.
But instead of fixing their eyes on the faults of their leaders, God invites them to redirect their focus to the goodness found in Him. He alone is righteous. He alone does no wrong. (Zephaniah 3:5)
And instead of casting blame, God instructs them to own their sin and call upon His name. (Zephaniah 3:9) He alone has the power to heal their hearts and remove their shame.
The prophet Zephaniah goes on to reveal why the Israelites can feel safe placing all of their trust in the Lord: “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
This description of their God and King points back to one of Israel's first kings, David, who was both a warrior and musician. It also paints an incredible picture of hope. One of a heavenly Father who not only loves His people and saves them but also sings over them with joy.
This may be an image we struggle to connect with in our own lives, though. Especially if our experiences with earthly leadership have left us feeling unloved, unprotected and uncertain we want to risk trusting anyone again. All too often, our view of God is tainted by the people who have failed us.
And it can be so tempting to point to hurts from our past and say, “All my issues can be linked back to what other people did to me.”
Trust me. I know.
It’s been more than 25 years since I’ve seen my dad — by his choice. That’s hard on a girl’s heart. But God doesn’t want us to stay stuck in our places of blame and hurt. He wants to heal us and help us move forward.
Where my dad fell so short, God has filled in the gaps. Through His promises, I’ve been reassured of all those things I wished my earthly father would have said. I have learned that God's love for me is deep, unwavering and certain.
I don’t know what the shape of your lack has looked like, friend. Perhaps you feel defeated and discouraged. Head down in shame. Hands hanging limp like the children of Israel. Or maybe the pain you have faced has left your heart raging. Fists balled tight. Chin lifted in defiance. A heart ready to battle anyone who might try to hurt you again.
But I do know that the only thing that will stop the desperation, the uncertainties, the insecurities … is for the Spirit of God to lay across our heart and make it still. The blanket of His presence and His protection is the only perfect fit for the deep creases and crevices carved inside us.
He is our Mighty Warrior. He is the lifter of our heads. The remover of our shame. The healer of our hearts. And the One who sings over us in delight.
I pray these truths flood your heart with peace like they do mine. Peace that gives you permission to live like you are loved.
Because you are.
Deeply. Abundantly. And with a love that will not fail.
Dear Lord, thank You for being a God who fights for us and takes delight in us. Help us to be still and know that You are our loving God. And give us ears to hear the song of love You're singing over our hearts and lives today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
Lamentations 3:22, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end.” (ESV)
Dispel the discouraging lie that you are unloved with Lysa TerKeurst’s devotional, Embraced: 100 Devotions to Know God Is Holding You Close. You can order your copy here, along with other specially selected items to remind you that you are loved.
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REFLECT AND RESPOND
Circumstances falter. People fail. But God’s love is unwavering. How can you let the truth of His love quiet your heart today? Join the conversation here
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