Justice is coming – The night is darkest just before the dawn. We are prophetically on the eve of new levels of creativity, opportunity and fruit. Yet, our experience is navigating the present darkness and attack against our dreams. The reason we guard our hearts is simply that the thief would like to steal our dream. We have all experienced the sense of “losing” in finances, health, relationships, years and dreams. In fact, the desires that God planted in our heart are always connected to sound relationships, good health, long life, and abundant finances. Protecting those areas from attack is key to our destiny in the Kingdom. It’s not just about us – It’s about the Kingdom.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10 NASU
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Prov 4:23 NIV
Understanding why – The first question a loss prompts is, “Why?” If God is the author of our trial, we would want to somehow embrace it; if it’s the thief, we want to resist it. This question is centuries old, and I want to summarize a few of our theological options that your heart is already entertaining.
The dark night of the soul – This option has roots in the mysticism of the Middle Ages. The premise is that our hearts are evil and need purification or crucifixion. The more spiritual I am, the more I experience and embrace trials and difficulties to cleanse my heart. At some level, the suffering becomes self-inflicted. Although God can test and discipline us, those experiences alone don’t define our relationship with God. This belief falsely blames God for our loss and the fruit is that we have no Kingdom impact on our culture.
I’m created for fellowship – This school of thought is that our love relationship with the Lord is our real reason for existence; that trying to find purpose in your mountain can be a form of works or idolatry that takes us out of love for God. This belief simply denies the reality that the consequence of loving God is working with Him to build the Kingdom. It also leaves us in a defeated posture of retreating into an introverted and isolated version of “loving God” that accepts loss as God motivating us to love Him more. Again, God gets the blame for loss and the fruit is that we have no Kingdom impact in our culture.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:10
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. John 15:16-17
Both of these views have elements of truth, but both accept loss as spiritual and leave us defeated and on the sidelines in the Kingdom. When a loss occurs, I do want to be sure that my heart is right before the Lord and to verify my first love. However, the explanation for theft is usually the thief! Over-spiritualizing a robbery and trying to blame God isn’t very productive. Both of these concepts leave us as pseudo-spiritual monks; introverted, isolated, and hopelessly aloof from impacting our culture or mountain.
Restoration – The good news is that theft is fairly common and survivable. Your and my situations are not unique. God has an answer! He has a system of justice in place to restore what the enemy has stolen from us. What has been missing is the perseverance to use our faith to ask for God’s justice to restore what has been lost. What is even more exciting is that God doesn’t just replace what has been lost; He multiplies it back to us… double, 4-fold, 7-fold, and 100-fold!
Job received a double portion – “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.” Job 42:10-11 NIV
Theft under the law requires a 2- to 7-fold return – “If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep (Ex 22:1). See also Ex 22:4, Leviticus 6:5, 2214 and Proverbs 6:31.
100-fold returns – “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” Matt 19:29 NIV
Faith that perseveres to justice – When the enemy steals from God’s people, God is zealous to inflict vengeance on the loss and to restore it. Although God is totally committed to multiplying restoration, we have not known how to ask for it in faith and to lay prophetic claim to that which is ours. We have not known how to pray. Too often, we’ve given up and blamed ourselves or God for the loss we’ve experienced. Listen to this parable of the widow who insisted on justice as an act of faith.
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:1-8 NIV
Wisdom – What’s the smart thing to do when we experience loss?
1. Perspective – Count it as an opportunity to deepen your faith and perseverance. It happens to all of us, and you will survive and mature. What the enemy meant for evil, God will turn to good (Rom 8:28). It may take time, but our posture during that wait is high expectations rooted in our understanding of God’s justice.
2. Priorities – Warfare and loss is not about you, personally. It’s about the Kingdom. When we seek God, His wisdom and His Kingdom first, everything else gets added or restored (finances, health, relationships, years and dreams). Solomon chose wisdom and understanding and God added wealth, honor and long life. Our priority is the Kingdom… God takes great care of us and our needs.
I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for — both riches and honor — so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. …I will give you long life. 1 Kings 3:12-14 NIV
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matt 6:33 NIV
3. Forgiveness – Vengeance belongs to God. It’s wisdom to forgive and to make room for God to execute His justice. Holding a grudge or harboring bitterness just doesn’t make any sense!
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Rom 12:17-21 NIV
4. Work – See the progression? …First trials, perseverance, then wisdom, then restoration. Ask for the wisdom to receive the multiplied restoration to reverse your loss. It won’t just fall out of heaven through prayer. God will work with you to find a way out. It’s not a passive process. It takes tenacity, single-mindedness, and work to be a King and to stand your ground in the Kingdom. The thief loves to steal from Christians and leave them demotivated and passive. It really is a war and we really do have to fight to win it. Once we commit to engage in the battle, we find that victories can come easily with the Lord’s help. We really can experience the multiplication and the sense of His wind in our sails. He’s just waiting for that level of faith to exercise His justice and to inflict His vengeance on the thief.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. James 1:2-8 NIV
5. Make a plan – When our faith is high enough to put a plan in place that is rooted in the desires of our heart, the answers come. That dream will sustain your heart through adversity just as Joseph survived his stay in prison and his promotion in Egypt. Your role in the Kingdom is worth the investment of your time to put that plan into place and to get the help you need to do it. Here are some suggestions for next steps. We may be able to help you with a heart plan.
In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Prov 16:9 NIV
To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue. Prov 16:1