No loss: Everything to gain from ‘lean years’

Palitha Jayasooriya // December 30, 2018, 9:49 pm

No lost years

Photo by Amaury Salas on Unsplash

One of the historical wonders of Sri Lanka is the complex rock fortress, Sigiriya, and the palace built on it by King Kashyapa in 5th century BC. It is an amazing sight, listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Tourists flock there to view its beauty, grandeur and craftsmanship.

In 1967, some of the frescoes painted onto the rock walls were defaced by vandals. Many experts had to be brought in to restore the frescoes back to their original state.

Thankfully, they succeeded in most of their painstaking efforts. 

God is still in the business of restoration if we allow His purposes to be accomplished in us.

As God’s people, we may go through similar damage, in what is sometimes termed as “lean years” or “lost years”.

During such trying times, God is still in the business of restoration if we allow His purposes to be accomplished in us.

Nothing wasted

We work hard and sometimes pray for years to earn a degree, to win an estranged partner back, to have the blessing of a child, to maybe get a promotion and to raise healthy, God-fearing children. We never consider that time as wasted.

Similarly, God will make the waiting period during “lost years” a blessed experience. His restoration will:

  • Renew your joy

When God’s restoration comes, He will renew your joy as well as the song that may have been stifled in your life. Isaiah 54:1 says: “Sing, O barren woman … burst into song, shout for joy … ”

Joel 2 also speaks of restoration: “Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for… He sends you abundant showers.” (Joel 2:23)

“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy” is what Psalm 126:5 says.

Look to God. The “lost years” could well be part of His process of making a true disciple out of you. He will eventually make it to work out for good (Philippians 1:6).

The prolific hymn writer Fanny Crosby lost her sight in both eyes at a very young age due to a medical mishap. She could have easily allowed her circumstance and the challenging years that followed to kill her joy and remove the song in her heart.

However, she allowed God to work His plan through what seemed like a tragedy, with no bitterness in her heart, and today, the church is so much richer for the more than 9,000 hymns she wrote.

It is also noted that although she was blind, Crosby spoke liberally about vision and sight. For example, in Blessed Assurance, we find the lyrics: “Visions of rapture now burst on my sight”; “watching and waiting, looking above”.

  • Expand your influence

Isaiah 54:2-3 carries the words “enlarge”, “stretch”, “wide”, “do not hold back”, “lengthen” and “strengthen”. All these connote expansion, which is what God’s restoration will accomplish.

Take the life of Joseph as a classic example: When God’s restoration came to him, Joseph’s influence extended not only to the Egyptian empire, but to most of the then-known world (Genesis 41:57).

Are you willing to trust God to do similarly for you?

Indeed, harvesting at its best is foretold! “’The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when the reaper will be overtaken by the ploughman and the planter by the one treading grapes.’” (Amos 9:13)

  • Remove your shame

Are you carrying any shame from your past? Is it about failure in one way or another? Does your countenance show the many days you felt humiliated in the last year?

God says in Isaiah 54:4-6: “Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.” 

The power of our Lord is greater than anything that can come against us.

In Joel 2:26 it is written: “ … You will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will My people be shamed.” For added emphasis, the Lord reiterates the same thought in the next verse too.

When Jesus suffered on the Cross, He took all our shame upon Himself and paid the price for all our sin and failures.

  • Push back the opposing forces

It may look like the enemy has won the battle.

For some, it may seem like the wagging tongues have done irreversible damage. A wise saying goes: “Plastic surgeons can do almost anything with a person’s nose today, except keep it out of other people’s business!”

But remember: “You hold me safe beyond the reach of my enemies.” (Psalm 18:48 NLT)

Look also at what Isaiah 54:11-17 says: “I will build you … your foundations … your battlements … your gates … and all your walls … you will be established:

“Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you …

“Whoever attacks you will surrender to you.

“No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.”

Let’s not get weary of waiting. The power of our Lord is greater than anything that can come against us. The Word of God is true: “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.” (Joel 2:25)

Reflection and Discussion

  1. “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.” (Joel 2:25) What are the years that you have seemingly lost? Which aspect of God’s restoration resonates with you most: Renewed joy? Expanded influence? No more shame? Victory over your enemy? 
  2. Consider the lives of Joseph, the blind hymn writer Fanny Crosby, or someone’s story of redemption — how does this give you hope and strengthen your faith in God? 
  3. Are you weary of waiting for restoration or do you know someone who is? Pray. Come before the Lord in surrender and trust that He will work all things for the good of those who love Him.


About the author

Palitha Jayasooriya

Palitha Jayasooriya is an Executive/Preaching Pastor of the People's Church in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He also counts over 20 years experience as a Radio Broadcaster with the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. Palitha hosts his own blog called 'The Preaching Platform'.