Sunday, August 19, 2012

Pain Is No Measure of His Faithfulness


I believe in a blessing I don't understand
I've seen rain fall on wicked and the just
Rain is no measure of his faithfulness
He withholds no good thing from us
No good thing from us, no good thing from us
I believe in a peace that flows deeper than pain
The broken find healing in love
Pain is no measure of his faithfulness
He withholds no good thing from us
No good thing from us, no good thing from us I will open my hands, will open my heart
I will open my hands, will open my heart
I am nodding my head an emphatic 'yes'
To all that You have for me
I believe in a fountain that will never dry
Though I've thirsted and didn't have enough
Thirst is no measure of his faithfulness
He withholds no good thing from us
No good thing from us, no good thing from us

I will open my hands, will open my heart
I will open my hands, will open my heart
I am nodding my head an emphatic 'yes'
To all that You have for me

Open My Hands ~ By Sara Groves and Alli Rogers

How quick are we to open our hands to the blessings of God when they involve pain and loss, sorrow and suffering? What if God blesses us by allowing our house to burn down in a wildfire?

There are many realities to ponder when we say 'He withholds no good thing from us.' Are pain and loss somehow indicative that God is not good or in control? What if those are things He uses to shape us more into His image? 

"For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly," says the Psalmist. 
It is not an automatic thing that God withholds nothing good from anyone, Scripture states that the one who walks uprightly will have this blessing.

Are you walking uprightly? Are you 'examining yourself to see if you are in the faith'? In other words, does your heart desire the things God desires and are you living in light of that? If so, then we ought not be afraid to nod our head in emphatic 'yes' to all of God's plans for us. Singleness. Marriage. Barrenness. Children. Trips to other countries. Mounds of work. Belov├ęd friends. Annoying neighbours. We must give the nod to discipline if we desire to accept freedom. And so the story goes. The things that we have now are the the things God has given us (or allowed us to go through) to make us more like Himself.

Are we ready to pray, like Lilias Trotter (missionary to Algeria in the early 1900s):
I am now ready to be offered.
Measure thy life by loss and not by gain,

Not by the wine drunk, but by the wine poured forth,

For Love's strength standeth in Love's sacrifice,

And he who suffers most has most to give.

Measure your life by the losses, the being 'poured out like a drink offering', and the suffering. Let us walk together, O fellow Christians, knowing that He withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly. And let us see that neither pain, nor rain is the full measure of God's faithfulness. 

~ Johanna


Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Flavour of Life


"No man has tasted the flavour of life until he has known poverty, love, and war."
~ O. Henry

Something about this quotation both resonated with me, and rankled me. The chord it struck is a dissonant one in that there are such things as poverty and war. There is in love the possibility for unrequited love. God did not make us for those things; He made us to create, to be loved and to love, to experience His riches and fullness. 

Then we grasped for something that appealed to our eyes, to our desire to become wise. In that very act, we severed every relationship we had with God, with our fellow man, with the earth and its creatures, and even with ourselves. We became fragmented beings rather than whole persons. We became less human, not more. We are not "only human" when we fail, we are less than human. After all, God sent His Son to be the Redeemer of the world, and He came as a man; fully human, fully alive, whole.

 O. Henry's quotation rankles in that it is true of us in a fallen world. Now life includes things that we were never intended to experience; not work or hard things, we were always intended to have those. However, now we experience violence, war, poverty, starvation, cruelty, and death. We weren't made for that.

But... There is a Redeemer Who will stand death on its head and give life the victory. There is a just Judge Who will not only condemn the guilty, but pay the penalty they owe if they will receive Him as both Lord and Saviour. There is hope. There is hope that one day the flavour of life will not be tainted by sin, pride, and death. We wait expectantly in that Hope.

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Col. 3.1-3)

~ Johanna