More than Everything

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18

He had a lot going for him—smarts, good looks, a commanding stature, and a relational ease with people. Wonderful leadership qualities, each one of them, and this man had them all. But here he was—in prison. I don’t know what decisions he made to land him there: Kairos Prison Ministry volunteers never ask, for delving into the past is not why we’re there. But on the final day of our Kairos weekend, he spoke openly before all of the people gathered in the room, prisoners and volunteers alike, “When I was locked up, I lost everything—my family, everything.” He’d had so much, yet he lost it all.

“Losing everything” doesn’t have to be our endpoint. It can be, and it often is, because it is difficult for us to look up and see hope when our heads hang low in bewilderment and shame. How did I get here? But God can build anew where our towers of success lie razed. Reflected Paul, one of the greatest minds of his time and advanced in Judaism beyond his peers, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”1 The persecutor-turned-apostle had lost everything he’d strived for in order to gain Him in whom everything exists. Jesus is worth more than everything.

Wiping away tears he’d prefer not to show, the inmate continued to address the group, “Thank you for loving me, for making me smile, for being family—the church.” God’s restoration in the man had begun—a joyful soul now teeming with hope, a hope pouring out in a testimony of faith, this faith “of greater worth than gold.”2 Though his possessions are gone and his income has ceased, though his family has left him and his friends have moved on, yet he rejoices in the Lord, he is joyful in God his Savior. Only God can do this. Only God is that good. Trust Him in everything, and rejoice.

Father, You never give up on us. When life looks dark and bleak, we see all the more clearly the brilliance of Your light. Draw us to Yourself; cleanse us from our impurities, and send us forward in great hope, faith, joy and love. We pray in Christ, in whom everything exists. Amen.

1 Philippians 3:8
2 1 Peter 1:7

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