Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"Thorns and Thistles"

"Before I was afflicted I went astray:
but now have I kept Thy word"

(Psalm 119:67).

Difficulty, hardship, and pain are prerequisites to faith. Relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ would not begin if life was always a journey on a smooth path. Nor would it continue to any significant degree.

The primary reason for this is the strain of pride and self sufficiency that characterizes all born of Adam's fallen race. Our original physical birth involved our being infected with the delusion that "ye shall be as gods," the deception offered by Satan to our original forefathers Genesis 3:5). We innately perceive ourselves as having the capacity to navigate the course of our own existence, believing that we should be able to do what we want to do. This is recipe for disaster, of course, but we wouldn't know it unless God orchestrated an existence wherein affliction in a myriad of forms revealed to us the truth of our need. We are dependent on our Creator for "life and breath and all things," and our very being is sustained by "the word of His power" (Acts 17:25; Hebrews 1:3). Apart from affliction, we would never know this, and God has therefore graced our existence with many thorns and thistles to humble and illuminate us.

The born again believer in the Lord Jesus is not exempted from the necessity of being educated by difficulty. We retain our earthly humanity after we enter into relationship with God, and we are still susceptible to the deception of proudful independence. Our loving Heavenly Father therefore determines and allows for discomforts to come our way for the purpose of leading us to increasingly recognize our need, and His supply. We hurt, and then we trust. This is a necessary dynamic of God's working in our present lives, and a primary reason that the Apostle Paul declared that he literally took pleasure in distresses (II Corinthians 12:10). Indeed, Paul knew that pain is a primary motivator for the trusting heart to trust even more.

It is not an easy way, but it is God's perfect way in our present lives. Let us rejoice that a Heavenly day approaches when affliction will no longer be necessary for leading us to better know and trust our Lord. And let us rejoice that in this day, our pains will not come to us arbitrarily or without meaning. They will provide opportunity for better knowledge of He who was "a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3). Such growth in perceiving Him rightly will prepare us to live in the peace of faith rather than the turmoil of independence. It is our Father's gift to us, and His working in our hearts to reveal the magnitude of our need and His supply.

"I know, O LORD, that Thy judgments are right, and that Thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me."
(Psalm 119:75)

No comments: