In the year 1914, the New Jersey factory of inventor Thomas Edison was completely destroyed by fire. Edison was 67 years old. Damages exceeded $2 million dollars, but insurance coverage only amounted to $238,000. Thomas’s son, Charles, was devastated for his father. But the following morning, as the great inventor surveyed the damage, he said this: “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.” Three weeks later, Edison delivered the first phonograph.
Things don’t always go the way we wish, do they? We might have high hopes that we will get that promotion or get an A in algebra, only to fail. Perhaps we try to begin family devotions or a small group Bible class, but things don’t go the way we had hoped. Maybe our marriages aren’t all that we wished or our relationship with our children or parents hasn’t been as satisfying as we wanted.
However, we don’t have to despair. Even in the midst of disaster, sin and failure, our Lord gives us new beginnings. Consider Naomi, a woman we learn about from the Old Testament book of Ruth. She left the town of Bethlehem during a famine and went to a foreign land. While she was there, her husband and both her sons died. She had been hurt, her dreams had been destroyed, and she was bitter. When she came back to Bethlehem after ten years and her friends said, “Can this be Naomi?”, she said, “Don’t call me Naomi, ” she told them. “Call me Mara [this means “bitter”], because the Almighty has made my life very bitter (Ruth 1:20 NIV).
God would remove her bitterness and give her a new beginning. Through one of her daughters-in-law, a woman named Ruth, God provided a home, food, income, and family. Naomi even helped to raise a grandson! God gave her a new beginning, even though she had suffered greatly, even though she was bitter.
And there was more. Her grandson was an ancestor of both King David and eventually Jesus, the Messiah. God was at work in the life of this woman who had suffered so much. He gave her a new beginning, and through that work God gave us a Savior!
Our Heavenly Father sent His Son because of our mistakes. We might wish that our mistakes could be burned up so that no one would see them. We don’t like how our mistakes have damaged relationships through painful arguments. Our mistakes and sins against God have impaired our prayers, weakened our witness, and hurt other people.
The damages we have caused are far greater than $2 million dollars. The debt of our sin against God is far more than we can pay, far more than any insurance could cover. This is why Jesus died for us. He was crucified so that He could cover the damages of our sin. He died so that we wouldn’t be burned by God’s fiery wrath. But in His resurrection, Jesus provided a way for us to have new beginnings.
Where have you suffered? Where has life burned up your dreams and dashed your hopes? Don’t despair! The Lord has given you a new beginning! When you were baptized, God washed away your sins, gave you a new identity as His child, and opened eternal life to you. “If anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation! The old things have gone, behold, new things have arrived!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
So you have a new beginning in God’s grace, every day. No matter how you have suffered, no matter what the world has thrown at you, no matter how you have failed – you have a new beginning in the Lord Jesus Christ! So face the future with confidence! Take on whatever challenges may come! Thank God we can start anew!