Thoughts In The Middle Of The Night Department: I woke up last night thinking "Every day is, for someone, 9/11. It's just the scale that's different." I have absolutely no recollection of what I was dreaming that prompted that thought.
As I lay there mulling it over, it started coming together. On 9/11, America was confronted with events that triggered widespread fear, loss, denial, and anger. I was listening to the local Christian station while driving to work when the station manager came on just before the hourly news break to say that an airplane had just hit the first tower. My initial thought was "What a horrible accident." I assumed that it had to be a small plane. As the day progressed, as the facts started becoming clearer, then came the fear, the anger, and at times, confusion and denial. Almost all of us in one way or another shared those feelings.
And every day there are people going through those same feelings. The phone call that says a child has been killed in an accident. The doctor saying "There's nothing we can do besides try to keep you comfortable." The spouse leaving with no explanation.
The circumstances are endlessly varied, but the reactions are so often the same. And in all the raging emotions, one question keeps coming to the surface: "Why?"
My oldest daughter frequently struggles with variations on this. When schoolmates suffer through family problems, she cries that "It's not fair!" She wants to fix it. She doesn't want people hurting. And she isn't the only one.
By divine appointment, when I arose this morning, with thoughts of the problem of pain on my mind, I opened up the book I've been reading (Connecting by Larry Crabb) and read this:
Since Eden and until Christ returns, God has entered a battle with a vision for what he intends to accomplish. The battle is not to improve our circumstances, to supply us with money, to protect us from suffering, to keep us safe from pain and struggle, or to quickly fix whatever problems develop in our bodies. We are encouraged to pray for all these things, but we must always finish our prayer with that wonderful caveat that in our immaturity we find so annoying: if it be thy will.
Isn't it his will that his children enjoy the blessing of healthy bodies and pleasant circumstances? Apparently not. At least not in this life. In his old age, Peter said we were called to suffer well. He later admonished us to not be surprised when painful trials come our way as though some- thing unexpected were happening (1 Peter 2:20-21; 4:12).
God will one day wage war against every reason for tears, and he will win. But for now he is fighting a different battle that, as it is successfully fought, leaves plenty of reason for tears. Until we go home, we can count on God to lead us into battle against soul disease. That's the war he is waging today. And that's the war he wants us to fight along with him.
The battle plan is simple. We are to help one another mortify the flesh, which short-circuits the power of the world and the devil, and to vivify our spirits, which arouses the good urges within us that, when released, make us more like Jesus.
When he chooses, God can as easily reverse cancer as fix necks. But he gives us no reason to count on him to do so. To pray for physical healing with confidence is really presumptuous. It reflects an arrogant demand more than humble faith. We can ask him to cure our bodies with confidence that he can, but we can ask him to heal our souls with confidence that he will.
What is the most important thing? It isn't health, wealth, and good circumstances, even though that's what most of us, Christian or non-Christian, focus our attention, our efforts, and our prayers on. We want to "be happy," and if we're honest with ourselves, we know that our definition of happiness means the absense of sickness, the absense of want, and good relationships with our family and friends. There isn't anything wrong with those desires, but they are not the most important things. We could have all those things and still miss out on the most important thing. "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?"
The most important thing is knowing God. And if we already do know Him, the most important thing is knowing Him better. Bit by bit, I'm beginning to get it. Are you? Pray for me.
posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at
10:46 AM | BlogThread
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Useful Links Department: (Or should that be Vsefvl Links? -- Ed. The next time you're struggling through a series of calculations (such as MCMXVII - CLIX*), just turn to this fantastic online calculator: COMPVTER ROMANVS.
*The answer to the equation, as any simple Roman schoolboy could tell you, is MDCCLVIII.
1. Do you 'play' other MEME ?
Examples: Friday Five, Monday Mission . . . Nope. Never got too excited by them.
2. Do you practise a Daily Rule for life?
A daily rule, for the purpose of this question, refers to anything you may use on a consistent basis for self-leadership. Like the "Daily Office", practiced by Anglicans and others; or a devotional guide of some kind, like Oswald Chambers classic, My Utmost For His Highest; or a study bible; or a read-the-bible-in-a-year track. They key is that you use it daily, or almost daily, for your spiritual growth.
I have used My Utmost in the past, and some others that I can't recall right off, but I'm just reading scripture now, and seeing where it leads me. I have markers in a couple of spots, and I pick whatever suits my mood. I've been working my way through Romans (and some days I only read a few verses and chew on them for a while), but I also have markers in Psalms and Isaiah.
I'm also considering beginning the 40 program set out in Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Life.
3. Do you read the label on the food you eat? On some things, yeah. It's a good idea to have a general notion of what you're putting into the intake orifice.