Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"Unwilling Affliction"

    "But though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. For He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men" (Lamentations 3:32-33).

    The prophet assures us that God takes no pleasure in the chastening and judgments He must enact upon human beings.  He works according to truth, justice, and the purpose that His perfect character and nature require, both for the maintenance of His integrity, and the well being of His creation.  "His work is honorable and glorious... The works of His hands are verity and judgment; all His commandments are sure. They stand fast forever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness" (Psalm 111:3; 8).  This requires affliction and grief as well as blessing and kindness.  The latter reflects God's loving inclination and the natural current of His loving heart; the former, Jeremiah informs, flows contrary to the Lord's primary disposition and sensibility.  Again, "He doth not afflict willingly."

     This Biblical illumination shines blessed and beautiful light upon the heart of God with which every parent can identify.  I've shared with you the story of our eldest daughter Marie's injury as a small child that required my holding her head in place while doctors sewed a cut just above her eye.  My actions terrified and bewildered Marie as the one she believed to love her the most nevertheless subjected her to pain.  Those same actions tore my heart out of my chest as I did that which was necessary.  I did not "afflict willingly."  I knew my daughter did not understand, and I knew the procedure brought much fear and discomfort to her.  I nevertheless had to do what I did in order to help my daughter, and to maintain my loving integrity as her father.  In the midst of so heart wrenching an experience, the thought came to me that this is how the Lord feels when He must afflict and grieve human beings for the sake of His character and the sanctity of His creation.  I've never forgotten that illumination, which serves as a bright light in my heart concerning the nature and character of God.  "He doth not afflict willingly."

    How worthy is our Heavenly Father of our utmost confidence, trust, and submission to the love of His heart, the integrity of His character, and the perfection of His way. Jeremiah's illumination shines a bright spotlight upon such goodness, revealing One upon whom we can cast ourselves with complete abandon.  We must, because no one else is perfectly devoted to our well being in administrations of both blessing and buffeting...

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you."
(Jeremiah 29:11-12)

Weekly Memory Verse      
      There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.
(Psalm 46:4)

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