The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
(a familiar theme through the years)
Noted professional golfer Bernhard Langer, a born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, still plays very well on the Senior PGA Tour in his mid 60s. When asked about the challenges of aging and continuing to compete, he replied with a smile, "Well, every morning you wake up and wonder, 'What is going to hurt today?' "
"Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day" (II Corinthians 4:16).
At the cellular level, the death process begins very soon after conception in Adam's race, consigned to an all too quickly passing earthly journey because of sin. The process increases as we age. Thus, we tend to hurt more, a difficult reality we must view no less as the love of God than more pleasant periods of life. Indeed, without challenges of pain, be they emotional or physical, we would grasp too tightly a world that itself "passeth away" (I John 2:17). Even more importantly, pain offers a possibility that would not exist if we did not hurt.
"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ" (II Corinthians 1:3-5).
Had pain never arrived on our doorstep, we would have no way of understanding or identifying with others who hurt. "Have compassion of one another. Love as brethren" (I Peter 3:8). Nor would a particular ministry available in our sufferings present itself to our hearts. As the Apostle Paul wrote, our tribulations and the comfort we receive by seeking our Lord's grace becomes a means whereby we seek Him for others. Or, as Job experienced…
"The Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends" (Job 42:10).
The love of Christ transforms our personal pains from the native tendency to wonder "Why is this happening to me?" to the Savior's selfless devotion to seeking God's help for others. "Who is this for?" Somewhere, somebody faces the same challenge that confronts us. Or it may be a different pain altogether. Whatever the mode or measure, to view our pain as an altar of prayer for others must surely move the heart and hand of God in ways we will never know in this life. However, in eternity to come, I wonder if the following scene might often take place on some Heavenly street of gold when we encounter a brother or sister:
"Do you recall the prayer you prayed for me in November, 2022?" On that day when you were hurting, you prayed for 'Somebody, somewhere' who also faced difficulty and challenge. I was one of those "somebodys" God blessed through your intercession. I want you to know our Heavenly Father answered your prayer, prayed from your altar of pain. Through your unselfish seeking of grace for others, He provided comfort, and led and enabled me to face my challenge."
Doubtless, we will fall together on that golden path to give all praise and glory to the Lamb whose love turns us inside out, from sinking into the black hole of "I, me, and my" when we hurt, to serving as the bright and shining sun of Christ's loving and prayerful devotion to God and others. Indeed, from His cross of agony, forsakenness, and death, our Savior prayed for others. "Father, forgive them" (Luke 23:34). The same Christ still transforms crosses into altars as He dwells and walks in His trusting children. "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).
Only the Lord Jesus, through the presence and working of the Holy Spirit, can accomplish such a miracle in human hearts. To see our pains as opportunity to pray for others? Not a one of us would do that apart from the love of Christ. However, God works in all who trust Him to lead us to this most blessed altar of grace. We can be sure that even now, in this moment, the Spirit of God beckons us to see our sorrows as a means of seeking solace for others, our pains as possibility to obtain God's comfort for others, and our bewilderment as His blessed calling to offer requests for "Somebody, somewhere" to see clearly the light of God in their challenge. Doubtless, we can be sure our Father rushes to answer as few steps of faith and faithfulness must please Him more than our pain leading us to seek His help not first for ourselves, but for others.
"For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation."
(II Corinthians 1:5-6)
Weekly Memory Verse
"Ye are risen with Him through faith in the operation of God."