Hopelessness is the new pandemic. It builds within us as we watch society crumble around us. Culture no longer espouses the values of generations past, and few share a Biblical worldview. Even those strongest in faith find themselves saying, “I have lost control over everything, even the places in my head” (Paula Hawkins).
As believers, we are urged to “fight the good fight of faith” and “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (1 Timothy 6:12; Ephesians 6:10). We know these by heart. But how do we live courageously amid the cold, stony hearts of those we love?
I felt the Lord prick my heart as I read Matthew 3:9 recently. “God is able from these stones to raise up children.” Nothing is too difficult for Him (Luke 1:37). Hardened hearts and attitudes may be strong, but our Stronger Man can even give life to stones (Luke 11:21-22).
Commentator Craig Blomberg says, “The reference to “these stones” probably reflects an original Aramaic wordplay between children (bĕenayyāa) and stones (ʾabnayyā) and was no doubt inspired by the characteristically rocky ground that covers Israel.” Like the pebbles along the Jordan River and the boulders lining the Judean hills, stiffened hearts come in all shapes and sizes. From colleges, churches, the marketplace, and even within our own families, these callous hearts are unimpressed by spiritual truth.
Is transformation impossible?
Long before the advent of Christ, God laid out His plan to exchange a stony heart with “a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). The same Spirit Who transformed a vast, darkened void can still “call into being that which does not exist” (Romans 4:17). His tangible, enveloping Love can melt the pride, stubbornness, and obstinacy of the coldest soul. God can resurrect even the unshakable to be children of promise.
In Ezekiel 37, the author describes a fantastic, prophetic vision on the site of a former battlefield. All around Ezekiel lay the bones of the defeated, “very many” and “very dry.” Unexpectedly, the Lord commands him to “prophesy over the bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord.’ Thus says the Lord God to these bones’ Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life…and you will know that I am the Lord.’”
You may know the story. When Ezekiel did as instructed, the former slaughter ground rose as “an exceedingly great army.” What was once cadaverous and bloodless sprang to life with animations of spirit and purpose (Ezekiel 37:10).
Often, we join our voices with the Israelites, saying, “Our hope has perished. We are completely cut off” (Ezekiel 37:11). But, let us faithe that whether our loved ones are stones or bones, God can raise either. Remind Him today of His promises and ask Him to enliven the hard-hearted and the dead. Your faith is precisely what He is waiting for.