Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Blessing in Disguise

You, O God, have tested us;
You have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
You laid a crushing burden on our backs.
You let men ride over our heads.
We went through fire and through water;
But You brought us out to full satisfaction.

—Psalm 66:10-12

“You…You…You…You…You…You." The psalmist sees God in every ordeal: Temptations, trials, obstructions, burdens, oppression, fire and rain—all these crises are mediated through God's hands. 

It’s an enigma: Though others afflict us, or we afflict ourselves, God accepts responsibility for all that befalls us. Scripture affirms it. I can not explain it. I can only state it.

One of the most startling statements in the Bible occurs on an occasion in which Satan, having done all he could to torment Job, appears a second time before God, who takes responsibility for all that Satan did to Job: "You incited me to act against Job" (Job 2:3). 

If events are random the world becomes a very scary place, filled with random, meaningless, gratuitous heartbreak and sorrow. But if God in His Love and Wisdom orders all that happens to us here, we can accept each sorrow though we may not understand it. “Why?” we ask in our despair. God says, “Dear child, you wouldn’t understand it if I explained it to you. Just trust me.”

“Though you slay me,” Job said, “I will trust you” (Job 13:15). Job did not enter into acceptance lightly. He struggled with frustration and anxiety as you and I do. But despite his perplexity, he knew that God was good and could be trusted. He could then accept all that God brought his way.

Acceptance brings an inexplicable sense of well-being that the biblical writers called "blessedness"—a point the psalmist also makes: "You brought us out (of suffering) to full satisfaction." (66:12). “Full satisfaction.” It’s the word David uses in his Shepherd Psalm: "My cup overflows" (Psalm 23:5).

Good when He gives, supremely good;
Nor less when He denies:
Afflictions, from His sovereign hand,
Are blessings in disguise. —author unknown
David Roper

In Acceptance

He said, ‘I will forget the dying faces;
The empty places,
They shall be filled again.
O voices moaning deep within me, cease.’
But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in forgetting lieth peace.

He said, ‘I will crowd action upon action,
The strife of faction
Shall stir me and sustain;
O tears that drown the fire of manhood cease.’
But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in endeavour lieth peace.

He said, ‘I will withdraw me and be quiet,
Why meddle in life’s riot?
Shut be my door to pain.
Desire, thou dost befool me, thou shalt cease.’
But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in aloofness lieth peace.

He said, ‘I will submit; I am defeated.
God hath depleted
My life of its rich gain.
O futile murmurings, why will ye not cease?’
But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in submission lieth peace.

He said, ‘I will accept the breaking sorrow
Which God tomorrow
Will to His son explain.’
Then did the turmoil deep within me cease.
Not vain the word, not vain;
For in Acceptance lieth peace.

—Amy Carmichael

Playing Second Fiddle It's said that the hardest instrument to play is second fiddle. I thought of that old adage this morning as I...