July 21, 2015

Psalm 119:75 I know, O Lord, that your laws are righteous,
and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.

Here’s a real statement of faith for you! Acknowledging that God’s judgments are righteous is one thing, but then extending that to say that your troubles are a demonstration of God’s faithfulness is another level entirely. However, this is the testimony of a genuine, mature believer. The whole question of why do bad things happen to good people misses the point that we have all sinned and deserve hell. (Romans 3:23) This isn’t to say that we are to be looking for bad stuff, seeking martyrdom to atone for our sins; that is spitting in God’s face and denying the work of Christ on the cross. However, it is to say that we understand that we are very much “under construction,” needing a lot of work to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. (Romans 8:29) It is when we understand this that we can indeed give God thanks in all circumstances. (Ephesians 5:20) And the interesting thing is, a thankful heart eliminates much if not most of the suffering! The more we are convinced that God really loves us and desires the very best for us, the better we are able to “endure hardship as discipline,” (Hebrews 12:7) rejoicing to be considered worthy of God’s time and effort to perfect us.

This awareness certainly didn’t come instantly for me! However, I have always been aware of being a recipient of God’s grace, and though I haven’t exactly enjoyed some of the stuff I’ve come through, it hasn’t seemed like that big a deal, either. I’ve certainly seen lots of people who have endured far worse! My problem as a pastor is that when I try to communicate this understanding to others, they tend to think I am being callous, or else taking their troubles lightly. Far from it! I just want them to understand that God is far greater than their troubles and He is never mean. If He allows it, then He can and will use it for our blessing and His glory. The suffering of others bothers me more than my own. I think fairly often of the Pakistani woman who is currently under a death sentence for having stated, simply and accurately enough, “My Jesus died for me. What did your Mohamed do for you?” I don’t know what the outcome of her appeal to the Supreme Court will be, but I do know that there is a far higher court that has judged her righteous indeed, and worthy of great honor and glory. I also know that any difficulty experienced by the people to who I minister pales to insignificance beside hers. I am to be faithful, and point people consistently to Christ rather than to their own comfort and convenience.

Father, I do not know the result of my ministry. Thank You for the chance yesterday to hear again the story of that lay evangelist in Sydney who was so powerfully used by You, yet didn’t know the results of his labors until a few weeks before his death. Thank You that I can rest in the assurance of Your faithfulness, and rejoice that Jesus is Lord. May I be Your agent each moment of today, doing Your will on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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