the BLOG of stuart mcdonald


Justified vs Redeemed
April 5, 2009, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A friend suggested I read the book, “The Shack”. I had heard about it before, nothing other than ‘it’s a great book’ and other rave reviews. I definitely didn’t want to spend my money on something I wasn’t sure about, when she literally gave it to me on the spot, I didn’t see the harm, and didn’t resist.

As I read it, one bit of dialog in particular jumped out at me. First let me give you a brief background. Mack, who is the main character, has been through many traumatic events in his life, but one particular involved the disappearance and death of his young daughter. As any parent would dread to imagine, this event causes his relationship with God to become very distant and disconnected.

Mack is in the middle of having a conversation with God when he says, “I just can’t imagine any final outcome that would justify all of this.”

To which ‘God’, speaking in terms of the Trinity (thus the plurality) replies, “We’re not trying to justify it. We’re redeeming it.”

This really jumped out at me and I begin to think that too often we have Mack’s response to desperate or tough situations in our lives. We think that the ends must always justify the means.

I wonder if God really says, “NO! The means, however good or bad, must be redeemed, not justified, in order to accomplish the end that I, not you, have in mind.”

First, let’s find out what it means to ‘justify’. It means ‘to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable; to judge, regard, or treat as righteous’

God doesn’t want our trials to be treated as ‘just, right, or reasonable’. Fact is, they may not have been in the first place, but it’s only through them that we grow stronger. God may not WANT certain things in life to happen to us (just as parents don’t like to see their children hurt) but He understands that they’re necessary for our character development and spiritual maturation. While God may allow the event to happen, He, in His sovereignty, has a plan to redeem it.

So, what does it mean to ‘redeem’? If we, or better yet, He, redeems something, I means He causes it ‘to change for the better; reform, repair, restore; to exchange for something of value; to offset the bad effect of; to make worthwhile’

What an appropriate definition! God wants to take all our seemingly bad situations, drama, hurts, our hang-ups, and habits and redeem them, change for the better, reform, repair, offset the bad effect, in order to get HIS glory out of OUR story. If our circumstances only become justified, then He gets nothing out of them. But if they’re redeemed, He can get glory for Himself out of ANY situation.

Isn’t that what Paul says? That God works ALL things together for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purpose?

Why do we limit God to think that ‘all things’ really means ‘all GOOD things’? Why can’t we see God working in the midst of our pain? Is it because we get so focused on the pain and how bad it hurts that we loose focus of Him?

Have you ever noticed that when you get a cut, scrape, or other wound that it hurts more once you’ve seen the injury? The same is true in spiritual and emotional matters… The more you look at, and focus on, your pain, the more it ‘hurts’.

I think it’s important to look at the injury in order to assess the wound and see what steps to take to fix it. It’s dangerous, however, to focus on and keep looking at the wound for so long that we forget to do anything about. We just sit there and belly ache about it, all the while it gets infected and becomes worse off than it was before.

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