Have you ever had a problem? Of course you have. In fact I imagine many of you have faced or are currently facing something which you would like to see change. These might not be big problems but nonetheless you don’t want to experience a repeat. Life presents us with snapshots based on the past. The bus you rode yesterday brought you here and it has capacity to keep circling until you either get off or change buses. That can be a wonderful reality if you like where you are but a nightmare if you don’t.
In August of 1945 the United States dropped 2 atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. These bombs created horrific pictures of those devastating moments. The snapshots they present can only be fully explained in light of the past. Although they served to threaten the future of the Japanese people and our enemies around the world, the bombs were directed at encouraging change so that the future could be brighter and better for all.
The pictures were published in hopes that there would not have to be a repeat before change took place. And indeed, the picture of the problem engendered enough motivation to affect a change. But it was their choice.
Each day life presents us with pictures of the past. Some are as simple as walking by a mirror and realizing you don’t like the clothes you’re wearing or your last haircut. Others like school report cards, bank statements, pay checks, stepping on the scales, traffic tickets or lawsuits are perhaps a little more challenging. However, from haircuts to divorce decrees, snapshots of these moments are most often pictures of a problem in the past. From there we determine if those problems are only pictures of the past or if they are prophecies for our future. Changing buses is a matter of choice.
In life things get messed up, losses occur and tragedy strikes. When we see a problem we have an opportunity to act. Our actions, our attitudes, the decisions we make and the steps we take will determine if the problems take over or if we take charge and begin building a better future.
The truth is, “No matter how bad it is right now believe me, you can make it worse.” God’s hope is that we won’t make it worse or worse yet, just allow it to get worse on its own while we sit back and bemoan the picture.
One of the better accounts of this principle is observed in the life of King David in the book of Second Samuel chapter 12. (2 Samuel 12) It’s about 1000 to 1050 years before Jesus was born. The nation of Israel was enjoying great victories and tremendous growth. David had established Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the recognized City of God. David had built a house for himself and was the undisputed leader of the Jewish people. No one denied David anything … all loyalty was given to him.
Several factors which we will not take time to discuss today contributed to David making the greatest mistakes of his life: David fell into adultery with a married woman, got the woman pregnant and subsequently murdered one of his loyal soldiers so that he could marry the soldier’s wife. God was evidently disappointed with David and sent the prophet Nathan to confront the King.
2 Samuel 12 NKJV
15 ¶ Then Nathan departed to his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became ill.
16 David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground.
17 So the elders of his house arose and went to him, to raise him up from the ground. But he would not, nor did he eat food with them.
18 Then on the seventh day it came to pass that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead. For they said, "Indeed, while the child was alive, we spoke to him, and he would not heed our voice. How can we tell him that the child is dead? He may do some harm!"
19 When David saw that his servants were whispering, David perceived that the child was dead. Therefore David said to his servants, "Is the child dead?" And they said, "He is dead."
20 So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate.
21 Then his servants said to him, "What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food."
22 And he said, "While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ’Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’
23 "But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."
24 Then David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her and lay with her. So she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. Now the LORD loved him,
25 and He sent word by the hand of Nathan the prophet: So he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD.
When putting first things first this year remember to repent. David wrote Psalms 51 about this moment and therein he repented before the Lord for the sins he had committed. There may be little or nothing you can do about yesterday or the problems you caused or faced. However, there is everything you can do about tomorrow. Recovery from any problem is solved by being right with God and realizing that each snapshot of our life is an opportunity to get right with God and do things right next time.
2 Corinthians 4 NKJV
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
The biggest problem you face may only be a snapshot of the problem … a culmination of the past. Take a moment to make sure you are right with God and then commit that this is not the picture of your future. Get right with God and do things right from here on. God will not leave you to live under the penalties of the past. He will create a fresh opportunity because His mercies are new every morning.
Six days after the US dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, Japan repented, got right with the world and started doing right in the world. Since that moment, we have never had to use that awful bomb ever again. Thank God those pictures were only pictures of their past. However … change, and therefore the future, was completely up to them. It’s a choice!
Let’s put first things first … repent, get right with God and keep living right!