In Ezra, the Jews have reason to be down. God’s chosen people have been conquered, exiled and Jerusalem destroyed. But Ezra is a story of hope and restoration. The Jews keep their faith and belief that God loves them and, in the end, they celebrate with joy.
One of the glorious things about being a Christian is looking at Jesus and realizing how much God loves us. I wish everyone could be assured of just how much God loves them. Recently young women in our society have been on my heart. How they are treated and how they view themselves. Being the father of seven boys, I have to admit to a great deal of ignorance when it comes to young women. I used to marvel at how my brother, with a stern look, could convince his daughter she was doing something wrong. I have to do a flying atomic elbow drop just to get my boys’ attention.
A few years back I was asked to be a group leader on a three day retreat for students to deepen their relationship with Christ. It was a retreat where we got to know each other very well. The masks came off and hearts were opened. I had several young women in my group. Anyone from the outside looking at these young ladies would think they had it made. Pretty, bright, popular. Instead, to a one, each had a horrible self image. They did not believe anyone would think they had value. They felt lonely and unloved. I was dumbfounded. I assured each that they were of incredible value and loved. It was a very revealing time for me. I realized how many young women view themselves. Feeling they have no value. If they are not perfect, they are not worthy of love. I told them that this was absolutely not true and pointed to Jesus as evidence of God’s love for us. Jesus did not hang out with the perfect people. Jesus died for sinners.
This all came flooding back recently when I met and had the opportunity to get to know another young woman. Again, bright, articulate, poised and pretty. Deb and I were both very impressed with her. During a conversation, she began to look for something in her purse. Rummaging through the purse, she could not find the item. Instead of saying “darn”, or “where is that thing hiding”, she proclaimed, “I am such a loser.” Again, I was struck. To my shame, I did not correct her immediately, though later I assured her how valued she was.How does that happen? How do we get to a point where we don’t believe God can love us? How do we, as Christians, combat all the negative cultural messages in today’s society? I believe that something as simple as a smile, a touch or a kind word can build a person up. Can help to assure them that they are a child of God. Valued and loved. My prayer today is for each of us to have the courage to step out in faith and build someone up.
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook