“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” Have you ever wondered about the seeming redundancy in this oft-heard verse (John 10:10)? Why does Scripture repeat itself in saying that Satan is one that steals, and kills, and destroys

 Are killing and destroying not the same thing...? 

We want to make the case today that this was a very intentional linguistic move by God (for isn’t every move of His intentional?). Perhaps it is His intention that He restores to us the things that are not only dead, but dead and gone. It is His delight to breathe life back into our hopeless situations, and to revive the things that are completely, utterly, past the point of no return. From dust we came and to dust we shall return, yes, but only to find bodily resurrection again even after we are nothing but dust. 

 God does the same thing in our lives day in and day out…

…Broken relationships, disease, abuse, manipulation, torment, hunger, toil, loss, insecurity, self-loathing, bitterness, resentment, jealousy, and despair are the ashen pieces of our lives that that God plans to redeem and — dare I say, make beautiful

Isn’t it true that all of us want to see a miracle of God’s, but none of us want to find ourselves in such a place of desperation that we actually need one? That’s where God shows up. That is where He makes himself known — where heaven invades earth. 

In you, in your darkest desperation, in the rubble of where Satan took you down and left you to die, is where God reveals the wonder of His beauty. That is where we see the resurrection life of Jesus, that now lives within us. Do not fear, the Bible commands time and again, for God is with you, and there is nothing— not even something that has been turned to ash — that He cannot restore.  

It’s in these moments of utter hopelessness that God lifts up His voice in the dark. Thank God that in Him, we can find more than rejuvenation; we find resurrection. 

The dreams that have died within you due to the sins committed against you by your trespassers, and  the sins you have committed against yourself, God intends to bring back to life. The good news is, of course, in addition to the gospel, that God delights in restoring to us all that was stolen from us. He is a God of absolute restoration.

A favorite example of mine is seen in the fall of mankind: The fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, consumed by Adam and Eve in the garden, was Satan’s plan to steal, kill, and destroy all of humanity. But take heart (!), because Jesus commands us to break the bread of His body and drink the wine of His blood in order that we may be reconciled to Him. God uses this — food— to bring us back to him, the very same thing that Satan intended to use for our fall. 

Can we pause for a moment, for there is something to be said about this immeasurably beautiful exchange in and of itself. 

We take for granted the fact that God created us with the capacity to affect him — to move him, to change his mind, through our prayers and our pleading. In what other instance can the sheep — obtuse and naïve and small as they are — plead so fervently to the shepherd that the shepherd responds accordingly? In no other instance does the sheep ask of the shepherd, but the God we serve is one that loves us too much to have created us with a one-way relationship in mind. 

Think of the parable of the persistent widow, in Luke 18: “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice…’ And the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?’” 

God created us in order to be in relationship with him, even — and especially — in the depths of our human brokenness. 

 That is a love so vast, so wild, so inconceivable that our prayer to God today is for a wisdom that surpasses human understanding, that we may, if just for a moment, comprehend his loving kindness. If God can bring life (and even further, make beautiful) something that has died and died again, He can do the thing that seems impossible to you.  

As believers having been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, we are more than conquerors; we must expect that God will do the very thing that the world insists is impossible. It’s who He is, and it’s who we are. Beauty for ashes seems a deal too good to be true for us, doesn’t it? That’s how much God loves us: We are worth everything. He wouldn’t want this exchange to look any other way (and we get the good end of the stick). 

Psalm 27:13-14, in The Message translation, further silences the calamity of our ashen state: “I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness in the exuberant earth. Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: stay with God.”  

Take heart. Stay with God. 

He loves you to death, and back to life again.