Drunks and Pagans -- God even uses them

My friend Sarah’s mother was an alcoholic. 

She was unkempt, had lost most of her teeth, and looked 20 years older than she was. I don’t know if she had alcoholic tendencies before her husband left, but her condition grew increasingly worse after their divorce. 

Sarah was the eldest of the three siblings. Chelsea, a mutual friend, invited her to church one day, and she said yes. Every Sunday thereafter she’d ride to church with Chelsea’s family, eat dinner with them, and head back to church that evening. It wasn’t long before Chelsea surrendered her life to Christ. 

She took her new-found faith seriously and applied it to every area of her life. She studied hard, cared for her younger brothers, and worked a part time job. I suspect she often used her wages to buy food. 

Sarah was one of the first people to share Christ with me. When she explained her faith, I found it intellectually interesting, but that was about it. Years later, when all the pieces fell into place and I surrendered my life to God, Sarah became a spiritual example to me. 

She graduated in the top ten percent of her high school class, excelled in college, married a godly man, and had three handsome sons. She is financially successful and active in her church. 

Sarah is proof that God can redeem, restore, and rebuild. 

In my quest to read through the Bible in a year, I read the story of good king Hezekiah. Hezekiah was one of the most godly kings mentioned in 2 Kings. One day he fell ill, and Isaiah the prophet told him he was going to die. Hezekiah asked God to heal him, and he did. He lived 15 more years and fathered a son named Manasseh. 

Manasseh succeeded Hezekiah and became one of Judah’s most wicked kings, leading the people into blasphemous and idolatrous pagan worship. This account begs us to ask, why did God add 15 years to Hezekiah’s life if it was going to result in the birth of Manasseh, one of the most wicked kings in the nation’s history? 

I think the answer is in 2 Kings 22, which records the coronation of Manasseh’s son Josiah: “Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. . . . And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD.” He purged the land of idolatry, led the nation in a renewed commitment to the Lord, and brought back the celebration of the Passover feast. 

Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did-- with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength. (2 Kings 23:25) 

Pastor and author Steve Estes once told quadriplegic Joni Earekson Tada, “Sometimes God allows what he hates to accomplish what he loves.”*

Because he’s given mankind free will, sometimes he allows alcoholic moms and pagan kings. Perhaps my friend Sarah’s difficult home life helped her recognize her need for God. Maybe Josiah’s did, too. 

In each circumstance, God revealed himself, invited them into a personal relationship with himself, and used them in mighty ways. He broke the chain of destruction and set them on a new course. 

While God never causes evil, he can use it for good if we surrender our lives to him. 

What difficulties are part of your past? Have you surrendered them to God and asked him to redeem and use them? I'd love to hear your story. Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. If  you're reading by email, click HERE, scroll down, and click on Comments.

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