Have you wondered why did you need to endure such pain? Take heart, God has given you much more than just freedom from captivity. Our pain and suffering are not in vain. They are powerful ingredients to transform us into vessels prepared to serve and useful to God.
The book of Ezra tells a story of returning from captivity and re-building a new life from the ruins. This powerful story of the restoration of the Jewish people under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah is a wonderful illustration of the restoration journey of every believer. The name Ezra comes from the Hebrew word „ezer“ that carries the meaning of helper, a companion, a partner, an indispensable pillar, and vision. The Holy Spirit comes alongside and provides help, vision, understanding, and strength on our journey of life.
Becoming vessels prepared to serve – 2 key ingredients
Ezra 8 describes the return to Jerusalem of the exiles who have returned from captivity. They finished their journey and celebrated their safe arrival by doing these two things:
- 12 of the leading priests carried the gifts of silver and gold and all the precious vessels consecrated to the Lord. They delivered them successfully in Jerusalem together with the royal orders.
- The exiles who have returned sacrificed burnt offerings.
We see that every journey from exile and bondage into freedom and healing is ending with burnt offerings and valuables. What does this means for us as believers?
Burnt offerings – deeper surrender to God and His purposes
The burnt offering symbolizes our devotion and death of the self-life, and one more level of surrender to God, and His plans and purposes. It means also dying to our desires and accepting His desires, vision and dreams for us. It is an indispensable part and prerequisite of following God and living a life of faith.
God calls us to sacrifice the lower life for the higher life, the temporary for the eternal. Moreover the burnt offering is an essential part of the sanctification process, through which we are purified and cleansed.
“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25)
Treasures and instruments for special purposes
In the process of this journey, God gives us treasures, valuable vessels and sacred articles of gold and silver to carry and transport to His temple. These are the lessons learnt, as well as our testimony and our transformation. When we consecrate everything that happens to us and surrender it in the hand of God, then He is turning it into a sacred thing. He transforms it into a valuable vessel and gives it back to us, to adorn us and beautify us in Christ.
Surrendered in the hands of God, nothing in our life is wasted.
The life of a believer here is a rehearsal for eternity. God is fitting wonderful clothes and beautiful attires for us meant to last for eternity. These are the clothes and articles of character and imperishable virtues. It is our individual manifestation and expression of God’s nature and glory.
“In a large house, there are articles not only of gold and silver but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21)
Vessels of honour prepared to serve
The purpose of the valuables is to help others as our service to God. Our experiences, troubles and scars, which God has healed and redeemed, are instruments and valuable vessels for service. God is turning us and our lives into powerful vessels useful to Him, prepared to do any good work of service!
Now, when we have returned from your captivity, now when we are out of the prison of shame, bitterness, and anger, let’s resolve to serve God with all He has given us along the way. We have not been given ONLY losses and sorrows, and hardships! No, we have been given the gold and silver of tested faith, of precious victories, the incorruptible treasure of proven character.
We are to become hope- and life-bringers. We are becoming valuable vessels useful to God, so He can use to display the majesty of His love and power. Let’s embrace this awesome calling and mission!
Nothing is wasted with God
As God and His Holy Spirit is our Ezra, our ezer, our helper, vision and pillar, so He calls us to be helpers of others. He calls us to bring hope and re-build the ruins in the lives of the other people around us. God is equipping us and He is giving us golden and silver instruments to be re-builders and restorers. Nothing in our life is in vain. When we follow God, nothing is wasted. Every bitter and hard thing just adds more tools in our arsenal of service.
When you look back at a hardship you have overcame, could you identify the valuables and the treasures with which you came out? Have you had the possibility to serve other people facing a similar hardship? You are welcome to share and comment!