By Tori Shaw
When I think about the term “second chances,” my mind immediately recalls some of the great second chance stories of the Bible. Honestly, the entire Bible is full of second chance stories. There are numerous examples of comeback stories in the lives of individuals in the Bible. Abraham made many mistakes in his life, but God allowed his comeback and he became the Father of the Jewish nation. Joseph made a comeback from the life of a slave and prisoner to become the second in command in Egypt. Moses made a comeback from hiding in the wilderness for 40 years after committing murder to become a leader of the Israelites. Paul (formally known as Saul) was a persecutor of Christians, killing any who called on the name of Jesus. God allowed Paul’s comeback and he became a great Apostle, writing 13 books in the New Testament.
Not only are there many wonderful examples of individual comeback stories in the Bible, but the entire book shows God writing the comeback story of His people. Over and over again the Israelites messed up and needed God provide a way for them to get back on track as His people. In the same way, we constantly mess up and sin against God; therefore, we desperately need a Savior. God sent His son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for our sins so that we might be able to draw near to our Father and to have the ultimate comeback, to spend eternity in Heaven. When Jesus is in the story, it is never too late for a comeback because our God is the God of the Comeback!
Sometimes life gets so overwhelming and the difficulties make it seem as though a coming back is impossible, but I honestly believe that God sometimes allows these circumstances so that we might finally come to the end of ourselves and see how much we need Him. He uses our worst circumstances to humble us and help us see our limitations and our great need for Him. We cannot have a true comeback story without His help.
Samson’s story reveals a last minute comeback story where man’s limitations were revealed. Samson was born of God, set apart by God, and used by God. His life was actually one of God’s ways of bringing the Israelites back to Himself. He was human, though, and Satan knew how to tempt him and cause chaos in his life. God had given Samson great strength and we see that strength displayed in amazing ways throughout the book of Judges. In the 16th chapter, we see Samson’s downfall. Verse 4 says, “Sometime later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.” She begged him over and over again to tell her the secret of his great strength. After telling her something false several times, he finally gave into her nagging and explained that if she cut his hair, he would lose his strength, the strength that God had given him.
I’m still not sure why Samson would reveal the secret. I mean, after all, he had been told what would happen if he shared the secret. But Satan knew he would eventually give in to this temptation and Satan knows exactly what our temptations are as well. He wants nothing more than to distract us, tempt us, and cause a great downfall in our lives.
Delilah cut his hair and Samson was seized by the Philistines because he no longer had his strength. They gouged out his eyes, shackled him, and threw him in prison. The people ridiculed him, mocked him, and called for him to come out to entertain them. While Samson stood among the pillars, he called out to God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please God, strengthen me once more and let me get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” Judges 16:28.
Standing there, in front of all those people, with bloody gouged out eyes, no hair, being mocked and laughed at, Samson cried out to the One who had once given Him such amazing strength. Samson humbled himself and asked God to strengthen him once more. He knew this was something he could not do on his own. He knew that God was His only hope for a comeback.
Samson pushed with all his might and knocked the entire temple down. He killed the rulers and all the people inside the temple. God had strengthened him and allowed a last minute comeback for the man who had messed up so horribly, but realized where His strength came from and humbled himself.
I think it’s important for us to notice that there were still consequences for Samson. He died with the Philistines that day in the temple. His comeback was short and final, but it was proof of God’s willingness to give second chances. Even in those consequences, God was greater. The same is true for us. Regardless of what we have done or how we have messed things up, God is always willing to help us come back from those choices. There may still be consequences, but God is greater than any consequence we may endure. Experiencing a comeback with the Author of Comebacks is worth whatever the cost.
In our living room we have a painting hanging on the wall. We bought this painting about a year ago in an Amish store in Pennsylvania. It says, “In this house we do second chances, we do grace, we do real, we do mistakes, we do I’m sorrys, we do hugs, we do family, we do love.”
The more I’ve looked at this painting and considered what it says, the more I’ve seen it as a picture of the God of the Comeback. God does second chances. God does grace. God can handle our mistakes. God is love. I want my home and my family to be filled with this type of love and grace. I want everyone who walks in the door to feel God’s presence.
In my life and in yours, we need to remember that the God of the Comeback is always willing to help us come back from any poor choice we’ve made or any sin that has entangled us. The same is true for our kids. God wants to write a comeback story in their lives as well. As hard as it is, we are the models for this type of unconditional love and free second chances in the lives of our children. When our kids make mistakes, which will happen over and over again throughout their childhoods, we must be the example of that love and forgiveness that Jesus offers. How will our children grow to understand this type of love without seeing it in us?
So how do we extend this type of grace in our homes? We must first ask God to fill us with His grace and a true understanding of how amazing His forgiveness is. When we truly see that we are sinners in desperate need of God’s second chances, it will help us to extend that love and forgiveness to others. We must also teach our children the importance of humility. They need to understand that Jesus cannot save them if they don’t want to be saved. God would not have given Samson his strength again if Samson had not humbled himself and asked for God to help him. Our children need to know that to receive a second chance from us as their parents or with God, they must humble themselves and ask with the right attitude.
Our children also need to know that even once the second chance is given, our choices still have consequences. We still need to think about the choices we make even though forgiveness can be attained. Most important, we need to hold no record of wrongs. When Samson asked for God to give him his strength once more, God didn’t read off a list of things that Samson had done right or wrong. God just gave him a second chance. The same was true with Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and Paul. God gave them inspiring comeback stories and saw them for who He was making them. He didn’t remind them every few weeks or years of who they used to be or what mistakes they had once made. With our children, spouses, family members, and friends we need to remember that a true second chance comes with an eraser. This eraser should wipe away the past mistakes so that the person is free to flourish in their comeback.
One last amazing thing about the God of the Comeback that I feel I must point out. Our God is the giver of second chances, third chances, fifth chances, even twentieth chances. It is never too late to cry out to God for a comeback. Even when we mess up the second chance, He is there waiting to help us come back once more. He is constantly wooing us, helping us, and growing us. He knows we’re going to mess up and He is still there, waiting for us to ask for a comeback story.