Several years ago, I hired a landscaper to come work some magic in front of our house because I have the proverbial black thumb. As a thank you, she planted a hibiscus near the front step and told us to enjoy it this year because it would likely not come back. That fall, we pruned plants per her instructions, including the hibiscus. Over the winter I looked at the dead little stumps about two inches high and wondered. Had it died for good? Would it live again? Amazingly, it has survived and we have enjoyed it four years now!
Before I allowed God to begin healing my broken heart, I felt like those hibiscus stumps after pruning. Cut off at the ground and no chance of coming back. But God had other ideas. He can restore when we are certain it isn’t possible at all. Scripture uses several pictures to help us see what God can do. Hope in the stump. Locusts. Worms.
Hope in the stump
Because of life experiences or by words people say to us, we often feel chopped down to stumps, worthless and hopeless. But God sees something else. He knows there is still holy seed in the stump of our lives. Isaiah was talking about Israel, of course. They had wandered so far from God that we might say it’s hopeless.
13 “…. The holy seed is its stump.” Isaiah 6:13b (NASB)
Regardless of our feelings, God sees holy seed left in the stump of our lives and feelings of worthless hopelessness. What does this mean? What holy seed? God’s DNA is part of us, whether we see it or not. When we accept Christ as our Savior, we activate that DNA again. The DNA is still present, ready to be expressed again, visible and growing.
7 For a tree there is always hope. Chop it down and it still has a chance— its roots can put out fresh sprouts. 8 Even if its roots are old and gnarled, its stump long dormant, 9 At the first whiff of water it comes to life, buds and grows like a sapling. Job 14:7-9 (MSG)
Job understood and insisted it was true in his life when it seemed he had lost everything. Even if you feel like a worthless, dead stump, there is hope. Your life still has a chance to be all God designed it to be. The DNA of God in you can put out fresh sprouts of life, bud and grow again. You will see what God wants to do in you as He is healing you.
The locust storm
Locusts ravage plant life. In Exodus 10, locusts had devoured every green thing in Egypt. Even Pharaoh recognized the severity of their destruction and asked that Moses to request that God to get rid of them.
The prophet Joel presents a similar image. Commentators differ on what these locusts are, but some believe they are the different life stages of a locust. That’s a very meaningful picture for many people. Beginning in childhood, our lives may be devastated through words and circumstances, through neglect or abandonment. It would seem that any life left in us is devoured and all hope is gone.
4 What the crawling locust left, the swarming locust has eaten; and what the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten; and what the hopping locust left, the stripping locust has eaten. Joel 1:4 (AMP)
Nevertheless, God still had restoration in mind for Israel.
He has not changed, so I’m confident this is also His heart for us. He will restore everything wounded and destroyed in our lives.
25 And I will restore or replace for you the years that the locust has eaten—the hopping locust, the stripping locust, and the crawling locust, My great army which I sent among you. 26 And you shall eat in plenty and be satisfied and praise the name of the Lord, your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you. And My people shall never be put to shame. Joel 2:25-26 (AMP)
I love how the restoration is a reverse process, going from right now all the way back to the very beginning. I’ve seen God even heal wounds that occurred in the womb! God is restorer of all that we’ve lost!
In my opinion, worms are icky. I never enjoyed baiting my hook when fishing. They are slimy and just crawl along. A different sort of picture of how icky we might feel inside. Cyrus of Persia has been expanding his empire and now threatens the mighty Babylon. These nations around Israel have fallen because they expect idol gods to protect them.
But God promises to protect Israel and says they do not need to fear. Even though enemies may think of them as nothing more than lowly worms. Or perhaps they feel like a lowly worm.
14 Though you are a lowly worm, O Jacob, don’t be afraid, people of Israel, for I will help you. I am the LORD, your Redeemer. I am the Holy One of Israel.’ 15 You will be a new threshing instrument with many sharp teeth. You will tear your enemies apart, making chaff of mountains. Isaiah 41:14-15 (NLT2)
God says He will make Israel, not a worm, but a threshing machine with many sharp teeth that will decisively win victory over enemies. I’m a farm girl and I’ve seen threshing machines work. Plants are cut off near the ground. The threshing process breaks off the grain and sends it to a bin where it is kept. The rest of the plant is blown on through and sprays on the ground like a cloud of dust.
The contrast between a lowly worm and a threshing machine is significant. Where we are wounded, a threshing machine represents powerful restoration that only God can accomplish.
Let’s go back to Job’s life. Compare what he had in the beginning with what he had after God restored all he had lost.
1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. 2 Seven sons and three daughters were born to him. 3 His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east. Job 1:1-3 (NASB)
God restored double what Job had lost! Double restoration is a Biblical principle that certainly applies to us.
10 The LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD increased all that Job had twofold. 12 The LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had 14,000 sheep and 6,000 camels and 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 female donkeys. 13 He had seven sons and three daughters. Job 42:10, 12-13 (NASB)
Can we be so restored? Is it possible?
Yes it is! Be encouraged by my life verse from Job.
7 Though your beginning was insignificant, Yet your end will increase greatly. Job 8:7 (NASB)
Carol Boggess, author and speaker
Rivers – A Journey of Restoration From Broken to Breakthrough and God Sees Broken Hearts