• Akram Zaki

Redemption in the Storm Part 1- Intro

Chapter 1: Introduction

A few years ago, my church spent a year studying the biblical idea of redemption. We wanted to really dig into what redemption is and understand the bible’s view. You see, redemption isn't just an interesting topic or churchy phrase you hear tossed around. It’s not just the specific moment in time when Jesus died - although that is a defining turning point in the overall story. What we found, when we started to dig a little deeper is that redemption is the overarching story. It's the story that begins in Genesis 1 and continues all the way to Revelation 22 and beyond into eternity.

The starting point

We started by defining the word. In many ways, we often start talking about redemption at what can only be described as the halfway point. That things are broken and need to be redeemed.

In fact, the usual churchy definition we would give for the verb "to redeem" is “ to buy something back”. This definition by its very nature is starting after the fall begins. In its truest form, however, redemption starts at the beginning, with the unbroken. The state of all things before they need to be repaired, fixed or redeemed.

In Genesis, the redemption story begins. Not in chapter 3 where sin comes in and ravages, but at chapter 1- where God takes the chaos and void and darkness of the universe and begins to draw out order, beauty and light. By the end of chapter 1, we are treated to a world and beyond filled with life, wonder and awe. The chaotic motion of the sea is restrained and bound by the land, the division between heaven and earth is established and the world teems with life in complex, intriguing, jaw-dropping beauty; each component doing exactly what God has designed, from the spinning of each subatomic particle to the almost poetically similar movements of planets around stars and everything in between.

Looking at it from that perspective, redemption isn’t a story of repair. It’s the story of restoration; the story of becoming what we were meant to be, what we used to be. It’s not a response to brokenness, it’s a call to the original design. In my opinion, that’s comforting. God looks at redemption, not as a mess that He needs to fix. He sees the world as a once good and perfect place, that needs to be and will soon be made into what it was supposed to be. In the space of eternity, after all, the brokenness, sin death and disrepair of earth and everyone in it isn’t a long time. It’s just a teeny glitch across the eternal story.

When we face storms and trials, it’s comforting to know that this isn’t the default mode of our existence. That the hard time you're going through, the storms of life, the pain and suffering and emptiness that we experience is an anomaly, not the norm. Pain is actually weird. It was never part of God’s original design. If you ever hear someone at a funeral say that death is part of life, I encourage you to disagree with that.

I might even encourage you to disagree loudly… and then tackle that person into the open hole in the ground.

But I won’t, even though it wouldn’t be an inappropriate reaction.

This book is a reflection of things that I began to think through as we studied redemption. I realised that in order to understand the entirety of Gods plan of redemption, we need to really consider it in the context of difficult and sorrowful times.

I don’t think many people would disagree with the statement that our world is currently in a state of brokenness. We are living in a time that came after Genesis 3 and before Revelation 21.

Sadly, pain isn’t actually weird or strange at the moment. It seems quite commonplace. Words like fear, despair, death and betrayal are well-worn words in our vocabulary and in our hearts. There are vast broken areas and holes caused by the often-miserable seasons that engulf our lives.

This book is perhaps just a small set of thoughts and stories from the bible that I have been encouraged by Stories of people who went through their own storms and managed to come through on the other side. I shared these stories in a sermon series with my own church family, some of whom I know have, and continue to struggle through difficult circumstances. They were encouraged, uplifted and challenged. (In fact, it’s the biggest response I’ve ever had to any sermon, topic or series I’ve ever shared before.)Now I wish to pass these ideas on to you, to draw upon when you are going through, recovering from, enduring or preparing for your own storms.

I am under no illusion that as you read this you may be going through a storm of your own that in comparison dwarfs whatever storms I have faced or will ever face. By no means do I believe me to be an authoritative figure on this topic. I have learned that pain is not distributed evenly and some people get a much larger share than others. For what it’s worth, if that’s you, I’m sorry.

My desire is that you will be encouraged, uplifted, convicted and strengthened in your resolve to see through your storm. I hope I can encourage you to look to the one who not only controls the storm but has designed the storm with the purpose of bringing you out of it, stronger, better and more attuned to your purpose and redeemed design.

The next chapters feature 8 different bible stories. Stories that really captured the idea of what it was like to suffer and face tragedy, difficulty, uncertainty and pain. Some of the characters responded well, and I prescribe their actions and mindsets to you as well as to myself. Others didn’t respond so well, but I equally wish to prescribe to you from their actions, or mis-actions. Sometimes we can learn even more from people’s mistakes than their successes. I do hope, however, that we can learn from their mistakes rather than having to learn them for ourselves.

My dad told me years ago that in our lives our wisdom is a step up. In my whole life, I will only perhaps achieve a single step, but if I take the wisdom of others, then I will soon step higher and higher to where I could never have reached on my own rather than start on the ground and only working off my own experiences.

In John 16:33 Jesus said to His followersI have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation (or pain or sorrow or difficulty). But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Each of the 8 storms that we will look at bear a few things in common. They are commonplace in our world. It may be that you have experience with most, if not all of them. However, the biggest thing is that connects all of the sufferings is that Jesus has been there. In each of them. He knows the way they feel. He has tasted the salt of the tears that they caused and has been drenched in the rain from each of them. He has stood in the valley of the shadow of death, both as the good shepherd, but also as a lamb. He was betrayed and ridiculed. He knows what it means to bleed, both from a broken heart, as well as a broken body. He is after all, a man of sorrows acquainted with grief. And yet even in the seasons of storms that He faced, He remained faithful and hopeful, even deliberate to walk headfirst into them, and not for his own sake but for ours. In doing so, Jesus faced the ultimate brokenness of sin and death, defeated it, victoriously stepped back into the light of day holding up our ransomed souls, offering us complete and utter redemption.

Jesus offers us redemption my friends, even in the storm.

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