God’s sovereignty is beautiful, but it isn’t always enjoyable. Each of us must walk through painful circumstances in life and occasionally someone will be like an enemy to us. Ultimately, there is only one enemy in this life, yet, in our struggles with situations, circumstances, and sinners like ourselves we can be at odds with other people and can feel at war. Or at least at battle.
Knowing that God has a purpose and plan and even a profit for us in dealing with enemies is challenge to remember, but it is supported all through Scripture.
This week I was reminded of the truth while studying the Israelites in Exodus.
God told them to take the gold and silver and jewels and other valuables the Egyptians would give them as they left. Yes, the Egptians, the former masters and slave drivers for the nation of Israel would press valuables into the hands of the former slaves. Without being asked.
The group of over two million people would carry these gifts into the desert. No obvious use for them in the near future.
God tells them to build the Tabernacle. Extremely detailed plans for this “God With Us” place. Specific designs for cups and basins and seats and more that were to be made of gold, silver,jewels valuable cloth. Where would slaves for 400 years get such valuables?
Well, they happened to have plenty.
Their enemies gifted them the materials needed to build the treasured Tabernacle.
As I sat there listening to the BSF lecture, focusing on the beautiful provision of God for His People. I was struck by the truth that I have been given amazing valuables by those who would call themselves my enemies.
How could I believe enemies have gifted me things?
Well, sadly, over the last forty plus years, I have had what I considered enemies and people have considered me their enemy. I no longer view people as enemies, personally, but I do know a few who believe me to be theirs.
Through some major and some constant battles with these people and others over the years, I have been gifted the following:
- doctrinal truths
- strengthening of my theology
- ability to see others’ struggles
- understanding of Scripture
- courage to draw godly boundaries in relationships
- willingness to confess sin
- desire to work on restoration
- mercy for the hurting
- nearness to God
- memorization of Scripture
- understanding of sin’s effects
- boldness to call sin sin
- compassion for those oppressed by legalism
- deeper prayer life
- ability to control my tongue more
- desire to forgive even when not offered apologies
- freedom in Christ
- grace for myself and others
Each of these gifts were hard received, often through tears and confusion, not knowing what God was doing or fully appreciating the gift. Yet, after awhile I would need each of these gifts to glorify God in a new situation. They would bring me closer to God. They would be perfectly needed.
Much like the Israelites and their gifts from the Egyptians.
I challenge you today to think about battles, oppression, and persecution you have suffered over the years from those out to hurt you. Look for the plunder that God put in your hands for a time that He would call forth.
There is something from every situation, if we are willing to see it.
Are we using these gifts? Are we rejoicing in the provision? Are we glorifying God in the gifts from our enemies?
Something that God gave us from our enemies. For His glory. For our good.
Can you name some gifts from enemies that are used in your heart, mind, and life?