Tuesday, June 17, 2014

That We May Obtain Mercy

Some adversities harden and embitter, and others produce covetable beauty and grace in the lives of those who suffer them.  William Secker pointed out so poignantly that whether friend or foe of God, suffering will have an effect:  “Suffering seasons have generally been sifting seasons, in which the Christian has lost his chaff and the hypocrite his courage.” 

Thomas Watson makes the point that God’s mercies and their fruits are also arranged by God when he said, “The mercies of God make a sinner proud, but a saint humble.” 

As true as these sentiments are in general, they are not formulaic.  We like formulas…we like predictability.  Yet, it is not that simple.  Just ask Job...the advice of his friends was full of formulaic misapplication of truths.  Let's be careful to appreciate the general truth that God is indeed at work to mold and shape us via the varied circumstances He ordains for us to walk through, but not in a formulaic fashion that is ready to judge oneself or others based on a particular event or time of life. 

God is FREE, He’s sovereign, He’s got all power and wisdom and authority, and He is good, merciful, kind, gracious and abounding in love towards His children.  And if we are in Christ, we need to entrust ourselves to the One who has told us unequivocally that we are His workmanship and that He will complete the good work He has begun. 

Our transformation is not complete in a day.  Our Father conforms us over time to be like Jesus.  Be patient with yourself and with others.  Sometimes I find myself losing courage, feeling hardened and embittered or proud rather than resembling the beautiful, grace-filled, humble child I know I ought to be as one of God's kids in response to both suffering and His mercies. Do you? He is still at work.  Tell the Accuser to go jump in a lake, and continue to entrust yourself to your Father who will help you get back up.  A righteous man that falls seven times, gets up eight.  Our Father is not finished with us yet.

I know from repeated experience that when we see ourselves falling, it is a mighty good time to cry out to the Living God who is rich in mercy and gives us this encouraging word:
"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest 
who has passed through the heavens, 
Jesus the Son of God,
let us hold fast our confession.  
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, 
but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, 
that we may obtain mercy 
and find grace to help in time of need." 
~ Hebrews 4:14-16