Do you feel like a stranger in your hometown? Or maybe even a stranger in your own home? I know I felt that way when I returned to the states after living overseas for several years. The community that was once very familiar was not and the people I thought I knew had changed. Where I imagined I would feel safe and at peace, I felt overwhelmed and lost. It was difficult to communicate those feelings with people that hadn’t lived or experienced that “strangeness” before. I remember trying to describe my situation to family and friends, but often they didn’t understand. I recall reading Luke 4:16-30 and taking great comfort in knowing Jesus understood what it felt like to be a stranger in His hometown.
The same passage was preached by our pastor this past Sunday, but this time, the story resonated with me in a completely different way. If you are not familiar with this passage, it is the story of Jesus’ return to his hometown of Nazareth. In verse 18, he identifies himself as the prophesied Messiah, but unfortunately his message was not well received and he was rejected by the locals. The villagers that had grown up with Jesus did not accept that he was anything other than the son of Joseph and an ordinary carpenter. Even his own family did not believe him initially. Those that had admired him, rejected the truth of his claims. Scripture goes on to say that the locals were filled with wrath and drove Jesus out of his hometown. I can imagine he felt like an outsider!
When I listened to the message Sunday, it brought back memories of when Tommy and I were separated. I know during that time he felt like a stranger in his hometown. Friends and a few family members thought he was crazy for holding onto hope of a restored marriage. By all accounts, it appeared as if the distance between us was far too great to be mended. His stand for our marriage seemed like a lost cause and sadly, I was no different than the villagers of Nazareth. When confronted with the truth, I too rejected the message as well as the messenger. My heart was embittered and hardened after years of marital setbacks and disappointments. I didn’t want to hear the truth and chances are if you are standing for your marriage, your prodigal spouse does not want to hear it either. But, oh how my heart swells with gladness knowing Tommy did not give up! Although he endured pain and suffering as he withstood the trials, he continued speaking the truth in love. Over time, my hard exterior softened as God’s Word penetrated my heart.
“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.Isaiah 55:11
Oh friends, I’m extremely grateful for messages like these because I never want to forget the grace that God poured out on me. Likewise, I stand in amazement at the strength of the Father’s hand as He upheld Tommy during his time in the valley. Perhaps you are facing loneliness and harsh rejection during this difficult season of life. Remind yourself and those around you of the truth from God’s Word.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.James 1:12
Stand on God’s promises in times of difficulty, knowing and believing that God has the power to do great things, far greater things than you can even imagine! He is working behind the scenes weaving together a beautiful tapestry to be revealed in His time. Speaking as a previous doubter who didn’t believe Christ was capable of being the Savior of my marriage, He proved me wrong! He showed me He is THE Savior to all and in all circumstances.
With love in Christ,