Why does “nothing” matter? It’s remarkable to think that one of the most watched sitcom’s of all-time (and one of my favorites) is a show about “nothing”. For almost a decade, Seinfeld entertained audiences with High-talkers, Low-talkers, a Soup Nazi, Puffy shirts, and Vandelay Industries. Their secret weapon was “nothing”. I believe the show was such a success because it allowed us to laugh about our lives, that even if life may feel like “nothing” is happening – something could come of it.
Unfortunately, when we feel our lives are in a state of “nothing-ness”, it tends to weigh heavier than that of a sitcom. You may be dealing with the loss of a loved-one. Maybe you have lost your job and just want to give your boss a piece of your mind. Perhaps you’re to the point of just giving up. I often find myself going through the day feeling numb – feeling the same ole thing everyday and wake up to do it all over again. It makes you want to just yell, “Serenity now!” at the top of my lungs. No matter how many times, you have tried to pick yourself up and start over, you somehow manage to fall into the same pattern of “feeling insignificant”.
We are able to identify ourselves and see we are like Samson. Samson was a man of great power and great responsibility (sorry for the Spiderman reference), however his pride often got him into trouble. But his pride and sin finally got the best of him. After this dude, flat-out manhandles the Philistines for years, Samson tells Delilah the source of his strength and she betrays him. The Philistines raid the place, and we read one of the most terrifying verses in the Bible:
“And he awoke from his sleep and said, ‘I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.’ But he did not know that the Lord had left him.” – Judges 16:20
First, Samson was stripped of his talents and strength, and all because he put his sin and ego before his relationship with God, he never knew God had left him. We find ourselves in the same trap Samson set for himself. We go through our systems and patterns thinking that we can defeat our enemies like we have every other time. But without the power of God and his favor we are nothing.
To borrow a quote from Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes: “The remarkable about life is that it’s never so bad that it can’t get worse.” This became true for our friend Samson. Now that the Light had left him, so did his sight. The Philistines gouged out his eyes and held him as a prisoner. Samson had lost. He was defeated. A man who once had everything – power, status, favor, influence, provision, and family – threw it all away and now a joke and a disappointment. While being carried out of his cell to be mocked, Samson prays to God to grant him strength once more, as a sacrifice for the glory of God. And God heard and answered Samson’s prayer. It was when Samson had been humbled to nothing; God used him for his greatest feat. That day Samson killed more Philistines than in his entire life.
How did Samson wind up in this position? Our boy Samson lived a life lacking reverence of God and His law. Before we go ahead and throw Samson under the bus, let’s check ourselves. We often live a life of exception instead of conviction. This is especially true for Christians, I don’t want to sound legalistic in this but I can’t count the number of times I have told myself, “others shouldn’t do this or can’t do this. But my relationship with God is so intimate and close, that I’ll be fine.” This is a dangerous road that resembles the one Samson travelled. We are not the “exception” to any of the rules or conviction that the Bible lays out for us. Samson knew God’s word; he knew the restrictions on his life. When he started believing that he was the exception, and not living by conviction, his life turned from black and white to gray.
This series of ignoring convictions also leads us into a lifestyle of “nothing-ness”. When we sacrifice our convictions to be an exception, we create a false standard of what it means to be like Christ. And isn’t that our goal – to become more like Christ?
It was out of Samson’s “nothing” that God used Samson. This story is just one example of God’s restoring power. This takes place all over the Bible. As we study his word, find out that restoring nothing into something isn’t just something God does; it’s who He is. It is God’s character to restore the old to become new. We could go into story after story but I only want to share two. The first is quick an easy, you don’t have to go too far in your Bible either.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good.” – Genesis 1:1-4
It’s simple, while there was nothing, “without form and void”, God spoke to nothing and creation took place. And it was good. It’s important that we don’t forget that when God transforms our “nothing” into “something” it is good. We may not like our outcome at times, but remember when He creates it brings glory to His name. Which leads us to our final story, Luke 1.
The Virgin Mary is told she will give birth to the Christ. Now, I maybe wrong but as much as this is “good” news, this is also a terrible outcome for Mary. Who really wants to be pregnant as an unmarried 14 year-old? Mary had to have faced ridiculed, exclusion, rejection, and frustration during this pregnancy. Let us be like Mary though, when are transformation becomes discouraging and seeming like an empty promise:
“For with God; nothing is impossible” – Luke 1:37
This has always been an encouraging statement to me. And you maybe thinking, that may have been the most obvious insight I’ve given. But humor me for a second. We know that it is nothing is impossible with God. Therefore we can assume that it is impossible for God to do nothing. Remember Samson, when you have failed God and others you love, and it’s resulted to you begging for God. He can turn you nothing into your greatest achievement.
So, why does “nothing” matter? Because it reminds us, when we are down to nothing and we feel like our lives are going nowhere; God is up to something. He has not forgotten you. We don’t have to live out Seinfeld; we don’t have to have “a life about nothing”. Let us die to our exception mentality and allow God to work in our lives like never before. We may not enjoy the process, but in the end He will call it “good”.