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Charles Dutton is a celebrated actor—but this only happened after he spent years in prison for killing a man. When someone asked him how he managed to make such a remarkable transition, he said, “I never decorated my prison cell.” In other words, he never intended to stay there. When Ezra wrote the history of Israel, he viewed their exile as a means to a better end. He stated how the people’s defiance of God was the prelude to the exile. 2 Chronicles records how God repeatedly sent prophets to warn the people because God had compassion on them and His Temple. But the people mocked and scoffed the prophets, despising their words until the LORD’S anger could no longer be restrained. After repeated warnings, the LORD sent the king of Babylon against the nation and deported them into exile. There they languished for 70 years, just as Jeremiah predicted. We read in 2 Chronicles, Chapter 36, that while they were in exile, the land was resting—preparing itself for their return! Someone has said history is not always a downward spiral that ends in chaos. History can be a process that sifts and refines. The exile removed dross from the nation, so the refined remnant could return and rebuild. That can also happen to individuals. When we admit our failure and turn to God, He can turn our midnights into midday. Our failure does not have to be final.

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