Tuesday, June 26, 2012
a purpose in pain
And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.
2 Chronicles 33:12-13
C.S. Lewis famously observed that pain is God's megaphone. And Manasseh seems to be one person whom God roused to repentance through the pain of judgment. Manasseh knew that God was to be worshiped, but when he took to Judah's throne after the death of his father Hezekiah, he quickly turned to all kinds of idolatry. He desecrated the temple with pagan altars and even sacrificed his own children in murderous worship of these idols (2 Chronicles 33:5-6).
God sent prophets with stern words of warning calling the nation to repentance, but the call went unheeded (2 Chronicles 33:10). When God brought the Assyrian army into Jerusalem to snatch away Manasseh and lead him away in chains to Babylon, all the idols in Manasseh's little world could not save him. But it was in Babylon, in chains, that God broke through to soften Manasseh's hardened heart. The king repented and turned to the God of his father. Miraculously the unheard of result was given by God. Manasseh was returned to the throne in Jerusalem... a changed man.
And he initiated a return to God by wiping out his former idolatry (2 Chronicles 33:15-16). He came back with a love for God that temporarily restored a generation. God definitely used pain to bring about holiness and commitments to change. It is a tool of spiritual work that God can choose to use with humanity.