26. Distress & Humility

Wonder of God Meditations 26: Distress & Humility

2 Chron 33:12 In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors.”

Sometimes in Biblical accounts the events roll out with such a sense of normality, or maybe even familiarity if we’ve read it many times before, that we fail to see the import of what is there. We said in finishing yesterday that things going badly, often things we bring on ourselves, are things that the Lord uses to being us to our senses. In the famous story of the Prodigal Son, the turning point we see comes with the words, When he came to his senses.” (Lk 15:17) He suddenly saw what a terrible situation he had got himself into where he had nothing to eat and realised that, back home, even his father’s servants were well fed.  Coming to your senses involves coming to a right perspective over your situation.

Manasseh was in dire straits, a desperate situation, a painful situation, a hopeless situation. No wonder he was in distress. There is something here that can easily be missed. People can get into a real mess and yet refuse to acknowledge it. Pride can be the greatest stumbling block to coming to your senses. What is amazing about such situations is that in such circumstances, previously ungodly people can cry out to God. You might thing that, sensibly thinking, they would realise how foolish they had been putting themselves out of God’s reach, and that would keep them quiet but, no, they cry out to God. Even the hardest of atheists have been known to cry out to God in such circumstances, and this is what Manasseh now does.

It sometimes needs distress to humble us. This is not a comfortable thought and we may accept the concept of humility with our minds but the reality of how God works it into us sometimes can be challenging.  Manasseh had to be brought low before he was willing to repent. Part of the wonder here is that the Lord knew that, given the right pressures on him, Manasseh could come to repentance (which is not automatically true of everyone), but God saw it and acted accordingly, allowing circumstances that would bring that repentance. You might wonder why God doesn’t do it with every person (and I think in some measure He does) but here is a mystery, why some people will submit their will to God’s will, and others won’t. The good news is that God knows who will bend in the face of tribulation and so when we see such occasions, we should be on the lookout to see the responses of those involved. The truth is, of course, that we don’t know who has the capacity or ability to lay down their pride and come to repentance under the pressure of such circumstances, but God does. All we can do is witness, pray and watch, and leave the rest to Him. 

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