I have not a few things on my heart and mind these last few days: First, there is life in all its complexities. Within these complexities arises persecution. No, I’m not going hungry (as the padding on my tummy will show). No, I’m not without clothes or shelter. I do not have to wonder if I’ll have enough money for this or that. Nor am I being asked, told, or demanded to renounce or recant my faith in Christ. None of the above.
This persecution is a very subtle thorn indeed. Only I (and the Lord) can know it or see it presently, while others must just trust my word when given. From the outside, it looks so innocent and unharmful…but it’s not. It brings sadness to my life, not ultimately because it hurts me personally (and it does, no doubt), but because it hurts those whom I love and adore. It is just life.
So, this life and the persecution wrought therein often drives me to see myself for what I am: a worm. I serve the God of peace, and of Whom I am most grateful. The God of the Scriptures Who grants mercy and Who exacts justice on the guilty. The God Who keeps covenant with men – The God of Promise. I serve the Almighty God…that is, when I’m not serving the god of self. 😦
O, the sorrow that ensues when I do not fix my eyes upon the Author and Finisher of my faith, King Jesus. The sin which so easily entangles does just that – and I get twisted in its snare. A quote from the good Dr. Owen is most applicable:
Let no man think to kill sin with few, easy, or gentle strokes. He who hath once smitten a serpent, if he follow not on his blow until he be slain, may repent that ever he began the quarrel. And so will he who undertakes to deal with sin, and pursues it not constantly to the death.
And this awful reminder of what I am (a sinner) lowers me into that blessed, yet lowered state called humility (of which I do not possess enough). This is a blessed condition that shows me God has not left me alone to die in my sins. No He’s still chiselling away the once soft clay that’s been a bit hardened by neglecting spiritual graces. Ah what a great thing it is to know the chastening of the Lord. In this all, I’m reminded that its God’s kindness which leads to repentance. In granting me this repentance He has shown me His great mercy.
With His mercy placing me back within the sweet realm of a pure conscience before God, I may rest in His grace and feast upon His Word again with clarity and discernment. As I look at Biblical history, I see His justice always prevailing. Then, as I recall this previously mentioned persecution I’m then reminded that God will let no sin go unpunished. He demands justice. So this sorrow that pervades my heart can be greatly diminished even while in this body of flesh. Yes, I can take solace even in pain my loved ones and I experience because of God’s perfect and holy justice- knowing that those who bring persecution, no matter how smooth, subtle, or covert, will one day be brought to account before a thrice holy God.
And, good people, what does this confidence in God’s justice produce? Comfort from the God of all comfort. Even in my faithlessness, He is faithful. Thus, he works all my life, persecution, and sin to bring me humility, that He might show His mercy, justice, and comfort for my good and to His glory – so that I may say with sincere and true heart, “Blessed be the Name of the Lord.” Amen.