God of All the Chances

2 Chronicles 33:1-7, 10-13-  “Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord drove out before… he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had broken down, and he erected altars to the Baals… worshipped… and served them. … He used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger. And the carved image of the idol that he had made, he set in the house of God… … … The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. … When he (Manasseh) 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 unto his kingdom…”

We live in a world where second chances are few and thirds are non-existent. People don’t take well to being lied to, talked about, cheated on, or betrayed in any form or fashion. We don’t like feeling hurt or disrespected. We can’t stand treatment that leads to thoughts of unappreciation or our unimportance.

And, I’d say 80% of the time someone forgives a person who has wronged them, the relationship is never fully restored. There’s always a fear, lack of trust, or hurt that won’t ever completely go away. Human hearts are fragile/selfish things.

But look at the heart of God shown in this account of Manasseh. He rejected God. He ignored Him, betrayed Him, and mocked Him by setting up idols in His house. Years went by with him living and behaving in such ways – and not only that – he was leading a whole nation to live in this same manner. After all the goodness the Lord had shown his nation, his family… Wow. Could you imagine the pain we would feel if someone treated us in such a way? Can you picture the anger you would battle? Blood pressure rising, face flushing, nerves racing? It wouldn’t be something we could just sweep under the rug.

Then the day comes when the king of Assyria captured Manasseh and bound him with chains in a foreign city. In his distress, he knew Who he had to call on. He humbled himself and prayed to the God of his fathers. He didn’t just ask the Lord for forgiveness… but for some favor! Wouldn’t this be the moment we would want to say, “I told you so!” or “Serves you right!”? Of course it would. But, God is much more loving and faithful than we are. He wasn’t angered by this cry for help. He was moved by it!

God didn’t just offer His forgiveness to Manasseh. He didn’t just set him free and tell him to fend for himself. No. He completely restored Manasseh’s life. He took him back to Jerusalem, set him on his throne, and continued to bless him and his nation. No guilt held over his head… no shame, no “payback,” and no less love and mercy.

Understanding how difficult it is to let someone “get away with” something, my humblest gratitude goes to my God. He is the only One who has in every way been faithful and compassionate to me and yet deals with my shortcomings on a regular basis without any loss of love or favor towards me. Do you know any other love like that? What a Savior! The only perfect being extending the only unconditional mercy ever known… Irony? Nope. Just genuine love.

We struggle to give a second chance. Most entirely refuse a third. By the fourth, we’ve all written the wrongdoer out of our lives for good. But, here’s God… ever moved by our need and dependence on Him…  We serve a God of ALL the chances!

Prayer: God, thank You for Your unconditional love and kindness. Your mercies are new every morning and Your favor never leaves me. Keep me from falling, Lord, but in those times I do, help me remember You are there to help me back up. I love You. Amen.

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