8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
the LORD will be my light.
9 Because I have sinned against him,
I will bear the LORD’s wrath,
until he pleads my case
and upholds my cause.
He will bring me out into the light;
I will see his righteousness.
18 Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
19 You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
20 You will be faithful to Jacob,
and show love to Abraham,
as you pledged on oath to our ancestors
in days long ago. Micah 7: 8 – 20
Well, it is official. Fall has arrived. Our summer growing season is over, and harvest has probably also happened, if there even was a harvest. If you ever tried to grow vegetables in a garden, you know that it is not an easy endeavor, or an inexpensive one. It requires a great deal of energy, patience, and always a hope and a prayer. And then we wait and sweat and wait some more.
So many things can go wrong in the garden. Insects are vicious; birds can destroy a garden before the seeds have even begun to sprout, different types of diseases can also take out the plants in a whisper. A summer storm can destroy a garden in just a few moments, and then there is nothing but mud. Here in Texas, drought is another destroyer of gardens. It just never ends.
But hope continues; patience abounds for most. Often, however, disappointment, frustration, anxiety, can take over our emotions as we look outside and see the work and love, hope, and tenderness we put into that garden, now nothing but a patch of devastation.
There is a story about a man “ who had tried everything. He had attempted to grow vegetables in his yard, but they had come up puny, hard, inedible things. He had gone from vegetables to fruit trees, but they had sat there season after season with nothing but a few pitiful buds to show for his efforts. He had given up on the fruit and planted grass, but the trees shaded the grass too much, and it would not grow. He even tried hardy ground cover, and even the ground cover turned yellow and died. And so in a fit of disappointment, he did the only sure thing. He called in the concrete mixer and had them pour green concrete over the whole yard!”
Now that is probably a true story. When I went to grad. school in Tucson, many people had concrete yards or rock yards, painted green, no less. Let’s think for a few minutes about our summer of disappointment. Micah talks about the summer fruit being gathered and then there is no more. There is eventually nothing left at all. But Micah is not just talking about the harvest and gardens, he is talking about our personal growth and enlightenment. He is talking about me, and he is talking about you.
Micah was a great prophet during the eighth century BC. He tried and tried to preach to the Judahites about faithfulness of the Covenant and justice, but he does not sense that they are even listening, much less taking his words to their hearts.
Here is some history to get a grasp of what was going on then:
“The historical context is that Israel, the northern Kingdom, has already fallen, long since placed under Assyrian domination. And the southern kingdom, Judah, where Micah lives, has just narrowly escaped destruction, again at the hands of the Assyrians. It has been an absolutely devastating few years. You would think that it would call the nation to a time of self-examination. . You would think that it would be a time of re-evaluation and renewal. Micah had hoped that his preaching would make that happen. He had expended a great deal of energy. His had been the springtime of the heart, when all things are possible.
But now Micah has moved past the springtime of possibility and he sees the summer of reality. He has been disillusioned about the springtime of the heart and has moved into the summer of disappointment. The people have learned exactly nothing. What he had worked for is just not going to happen. Micah says it’s like growing summer fruit … you grow it, but once it’s gone, it’s gone. There is nothing left. It’s bitterly disappointing.”
Can you just imagine his disappointment and distress? All he worked for, all he had done has been for nothing, Why even bother. It was like much ado about nothing, “Woe is me! For I have become like one who, after the summer fruit has been gathered, after the vintage has been gleaned, finds no cluster to eat: there is no first-ripe fig for which I hunger.” I can just imagine and almost relate. Just like when I did my garden and worked and worked and in one day the grasshoppers totally destroyed everything.
And when I talk about faith and belief in our God, many just shrug their shoulders. I have spoken many times about the country turning from God and what the ramifications of that will be. See history lesson above. Not many care or believe, thinking that this will never happen to us (me, me, me).
Now, let’s stop a minute and take a look at Micah’s disappointment and distress. Where is this coming from? It is coming from him. It is pulling him down into the abyss. It isn’t upsetting because people or our gardens didn’t turn out the way we expected but because we created these amazing expectations. “We set ourselves up for disappointment. We program ourselves for failure.”
Are you a Micah? Do you cry aloud, full of feeling sorry for yourself? “Woe is me, for I have become like one who, after the summer fruit has been gathered, after the vintage has been gleaned, finds no cluster to eat; there is no first-ripe fig for which I hunger.”
Are we filled with self-pity also. Do we let this destroy our sense of freedom, our relationships, our faith? Have you let your “unsuccess” dig into you like a knife and then start digging in to those you love and care about? Is that what I have set myself up for? Micah even goes so far as to be disappointed in his family and tells us to watch out that they may also betray us. He says to “Guard the doors of your mouth ……”
Remember this quote, “The whole world is wrong except for me and thee, and sometimes I wonder about thee.”
NOW, it is time to take a deep and careful look at myself and you to look at yourself. You may be headed downward, and you took yourself there. Note where you stand in your life, in your faith. Who and what is your focus. “Oh, woe is me – me – me – me.” The fiddle is getting worn.
What we are disappointed in here is that God has not done for us – me – me –me what we prayed and asked for. Our focus is on ourself. We are doing what we do for us, not for God. As long as that is happening, we will never be satisfied.
Now, let’s see how Micah ends this complaining of his and see how he finally understands how he has sinned. “I must bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he takes my side and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall see his vindication.”
Okay, here now we are at the true need – judgment and forgiveness. Repentance is the road that will deliver us from the discontentment we feel.
We often hear, “ You see, the issue is not whether we are disappointed in God. The issue is whether He is disappointed in us!”
and “The question is not what I can do to make myself happy and satisfied. The question is what I can do to center my life on God and His will. And that is repentance. That is turning it all around. “
Repentance – from Micah – 7: 19 You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
That is turning our focus on Jesus Christ, not on ourselves. Jesus did all for His Father, nothing to embrace himself, nothing for His own benefit and contentment. He always thought of His sheep and strived to take care of them/us. And it is our place to work toward becoming Christ-Like. To make ourselves one with Him.
In our daily life and prayer time, we must confess to the Lord. Ask Him to help us live fully for God, not self. We never need to complain, we can find total satisfaction and contentment when we turn to God and focus ourselves on doing His Will, not He doing our will. That is exactly what Christ’s life was all about.
So once we repent, our life can be full. we have taken that step of repentance, Our focus and personal power and success is for and through Jesus Christ.
All we have to do is focus on God, through Jesus Christ, and our lives are full and plentiful – all in the realm of God.
We, therefore, Praise God. He has restored us and brought us into the light because God IS the LIGHT.
Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be my light. Micah 7: 8
(thank you to Pastor (retired) Joseph Smith for his insights and stories. Quotes are from his sharing)