Woman setting the table for dinner

New Identity Over Changed Circumstances

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I’m currently in a season where I have to prioritize my life. I can’t do everything that comes my way, I can’t spend time with each person I want, and I have to make some hard decisions. I have to look at my calendar and plan how I want to spend the precious few hours I have extra each week. I have to make my priorities clear to myself before determining my behavior.

I know we’ve talked about priorities a lot on here, but I see as such a vital topic, we’re going to talk about it again, but through the lens of hard times.

When you’re in the midst of a difficult circumstance, where do your priorities lie?

When there’s not enough money in the bank, a relationship is strained, the eviction notice has been received, or the kids are losing their dang minds, it’s easy to feel like the world is crashing in on us. We might find ourselves crying out “God, where are you? What’s going on? Why are you letting this happen?”

During tough times we might be more inclined to beg God to change our situations, but I wonder if this response reveals a priorities mismatch. What if, in difficult times, God is more concerned about our character than our circumstances? What if he wants to restore our identity instead of our fortunes? What if he longs for us to be comforted by him instead of feeling comfortable?

In 2 Samuel 9, we meet a character who’s had a rough life. As a child, both his father and his grandfather (Saul, the king) were killed, and he was dropped, leaving him crippled–all on the same day. As a result, he grew up in squalor and shame. Because he was the descendant of a fallen king during the reign of a new king, he lived in constant fear. But he was about to learn that King David was different than other kings.

And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.” The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.”” 2 Samuel 9:3-4 (ESV)

Notice what David learns about this person: he’s Jonathan’s son, he can’t walk, and he’s staying in this other guy’s house. We don’t learn his name until the next verse. We know his issues and his baggage long before we know anything about his identity.

This descendant of Saul was known for his family (that went down in flames), what he couldn’t do (walk), and where he was living (at a house that wasn’t even his own).

So David sends for this person and excitedly awaits his arrival. When Saul’s grandson finally arrives, he receives the most unexpected of welcomes.

And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.”” 2 Samuel 9:6b-7 (ESV)

The first thing that David said to Mephibosheth was his name. I wonder how long it had been since the last time Mephibosheth heard his name. He had been defined by his family and his limitations for so long, I wonder if he was thrown by the use of the name. Did he pause or falter for a moment before responding? Did his eyes grow wide? Did his heart race and hands shake?

The most amazing part of this story isn’t that Mephibosheth went from rags to riches but that his identity was restored. He was called by name and given a position though he didn’t deserve it. He welcomed him to his table, making it known to everyone, including Mephibosheth, that he was someone completely new. Those old things that used to define him were no longer factors in his life. 

What I love about this story is that God does for us what David did for Mephibosheth. During difficulties, God isn’t as concerned with our circumstances as he is about our identities. If we, in the midst of unemployment or a break-up or depression or pain, can see ourselves as we truly are, beloved children of God, it will change how we live.

Are you more concerned about your circumstances or your identity?

Are there any areas that you’re still finding your identity somewhere other than God?

To go Deeper: Read My Story, Follow the Cloud
Watch Damaged Goods

Disclosure: some links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 


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