I am currently sitting in an airport in Colorado waiting for my flight home. I just finished a visit with a family member and her children. I spent time helping her family through a very rough transition.She and her children ran to a domestic violence shelter about a month ago. While I was there, I helped them go into transitional housing. You see, after 10 years of being told she was worthless "trash" (I don't like using the actual terms that were used), fearing the next physical confrontation, she found the courage to leave. Although this is going to be very hard to do (some women go back to domestic violence because the road out is so tough), they are on the road to freedom, healing, and wholeness. Image from Unsplash.
I was the oldest child's age when my own parents divorced. The yelling and screaming, shattered glass, and violence are permanently etched in my mind from those moments when I was only 4 or 5. I could relate to the children's emotional pain, the fear of being abandoned. The next divorce I endured as a child was even more violent. I remember hiding under the blankets of my bed late at night, hearing screaming, crying, and threats of harm and, at one point, death. Mom was told she was worthless, too. As a freshman in high school, I was summoned to the office by principal one day. My mother stood there with a black eye and a huge bruise on one side of her face, damage from being hit with an old desk phone. The degradation had gone on far too long, her life in danger. Mom found the courage to leave. It was a tough road for us to freedom, but we did it. Learning my value as a human being took years of replacing the lies with truth.
Main Passage: Matthew 10: 26-30
Secondary Passage: Matthew 6:25-34
Focus Verse: The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jeremiah 31:3 NIV
What's the Deal?
It's not just domestic violence that robs the value and dignity of a human being. Millions of people worldwide are being told they are worthless pieces of trash every day. They tolerate it from family members, coworkers, classmates, and strangers on the street. Sadly, too many believe the lies to be truth. One man on Facebook couldn't believe a woman would "let" someone beat her to near death with a piece of sports equipment. The reason why she would is because she believes the lies and doesn't know how to get out. Some don't leave out of fear of harm to children or other loved ones. They see it as their sacrifice to save someone else. It's a cruel existence.
Employees tolerate abuse on the job from bosses and coworkers. They are screamed at, harassed, and cheated out of their pay. Some are pressed against a wall in a lonely hallway and groped. Whistle blowers lose their jobs. At college campuses, students put up with harassment from professors and instructors out of fear of flunking classes and losing scholarships. I knew a professor who always used sexual scenarios to "illustrate his educational points". He would call students up to the podium, verbally drooling over the female students. He humiliated Christian students by "calling them out" to debate him, then sent them slinking back to their seats. He was obviously reported because he threw tantrums about the snitches the very next day. The victims feel powerless by their tormentors because they believe the lies they are told.
The common denominator in all of these situations is the devaluation of the victims. Eventually, they no longer believe they have worth. They even tear themselves down over and over. Many apologize profusely for small infractions, even minor mistakes. No one deserves to be treated as common trash, subhuman. The good news is the Truth says the opposite.
In our main passage, Jesus commissions His disciples to go out to do ministry work as preparation for what was yet to come after His death and resurrection. He warns them ahead of time to not fear those who will eventually torture and kill them. Instead, they are told how much more valuable than the sparrows they are to God. Interestingly, there is a contrast: they should fear God who can destroy their souls, yet know how valuable they are to Him. He has no desire to destroy their souls even though He can. Image by LubosHouska from Pixabay.
I find it interesting that sparrows are mentioned more than once regarding their worth to God even though they were a common bird, cheap to buy in Bible times. Sparrows were protected within the temple precincts (Psalms 84:3). Essentially they had little worth in Israel as a general rule. They were allowed to live within the walls of the temple to nest, though, protected by the house of God.
Our focus verse in Jeremiah 31:3 comes from the standpoint of Israel being rescued from the hands of those who attacked them. They were killed, plundered, burned, starved, and many more horrific things. God sends Israel the message of His great love for them in the midst horrible tragedy through Jeremiah. He gives them hope.
Those who are told they are worthless can take heart that God finds value in them. Sparrows hop around us all the time, we even see them in large groups on power wires overhead. They really don't mean much to us because they are so common, but God values them. How much more you are worth to God than a single sparrow! He provides shelter for you in His House, He provides all your needs like He does for the sparrow, and even more. Not only does He care for you and your needs, He loves you with an unfailing love. You are worthwhile to God! You have value. Image by David Marcu from Freely Images.
Are you feeling worthless today? Trust that God has given you tremendous value. It says so in the Bible. Take the time to write down passages of God's great love for you and place them where you will find them every day. Whenever the lies from your tormentors come to mind, simply tell yourself, "No. That's not true. God's Word says this about me" and read the verse out loud to yourself. Replace those lies with Truth.
Second, if you don't have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, read John 3:16-18. Put your name in place of the word WORLD. He loves you enough to send Jesus to die on the cross for you. Only those who do not believe find themselves condemned, eternally separated from God. It is by their very own choice. Please, don't be one of them. Don't hold yourself back from being fully loved by God. Do you want the free gift of salvation God offers you? Take the time to pray to accept Jesus' death on the cross for you. Not only did He die for you, He rose from the dead to offer you a new life. He loves you with an everlasting love.
May God bless you!