My friend Phil began chemo treatments in December 2016 for an aggressive form of lymphoma cancer. By God’s grace, he’d been prepared for this challenge in many ways. His wife had battled cancer several years before, and he had seen me go through several treatments in my own battle with an aggressive lymphoma. He had also just changed jobs, and the benefits and community support there were just what the doctor ordered. Most of all, he had been enjoying deep relationship with God.
Zephaniah, a man who also had a deep relationship with God, was used by Him to help prepare the people of Judah for their battle against a spiritual cancer (Zephaniah 1:1). The country was stained by injustice, spiritual apathy, and a love of material things—not a love for God (Zephaniah 1:9,12,18). But in God’s grace and perfect timing, Zephaniah was preparing the people’s hearts for a good king named Josiah who would soon rediscover the Book of the Law and lead his country back to God (2 Kings 22:8; 23:1-25).
Although God’s words—including the reality that He would one day “crush Judah and Jerusalem” (Zephaniah 1:4)—were painful, they were also words that prepared the people to repent and receive Josiah’s reforms. The prophet said, “Seek the Lord, all who are humble, and follow his commands. Seek to do what is right . . . . Perhaps even yet the Lord will protect you” (Zephaniah 2:3).
What tough stuff are you facing today? What valley is God leading you through? Remember that this is a time of preparation. As you deal with the effects of a fallen world—sin, broken relationships, disease, persecution, and more—God can use those things to test and purify your faith (1 Peter 1:6-7).
He can use them to prepare you for what’s to come.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Acts 2:1-13
Read Romans 5:3-5 and consider how God can use hard times to prepare us to love Him and others better.
How does it encourage you to know that God can use difficult days to prepare us for future ministry for Him? What will you do to renew your desire to follow Him today?