Published: Sunday, 10 April 2016 10:29
Written by Don Goulding
For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. (2 Corinthians 4:17 NET_FL)
“Tell them for me. Tell people what happened,” ten-year-old Tanaka rasped out her dying wish.
At age four, Tanaka was sold by her mother as a prostitute. When she was eight, she was rescued to a Zimbabwean orphanage. The fair-skinned girl died of AIDS two years later.
My dog had a better earthly life than precious, beautiful Tanaka. So how do I reconcile the hell-infested existence of a four-year-old daily rape victim to my soft life of ease? To pretend suffering is not real, or to think God ignores it, is to misunderstand reality. Pain is not initiated by God nor is it permitted in his ordained future for his followers. It’s an aberration conjured by Satan and fallen humans.
God, however, is not bested. He transforms our earthly misery into opportunities for eternal glory. Jesus experienced both the pain of suffering and the glory of paradise and the two did not compare. Crucifixion pushed him down an inch, resurrection lifted him up a mile. The same exchange is planned for us.
Our God deals in justice and equity. Tanaka suffered in the strength of Jesus and now she is rewarded a thousand-fold. God never forgot her torment, instead he used it for her glory and his. Hallelujah!
Prayer: Merciful Father, honor the downtrodden throughout eternity.
Published: Sunday, 03 April 2016 10:31
Written by Don Goulding
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the one against whom the Lord will never count sin.” (Romans 4:7-8 NET_FL)
My life is broken. It cycles like this—sin, languish, repent, back to sin. The truly dangerous part is languishing. That’s where sin multiplies. Wallowing in the swamp of self-defeat, thick with guilt and disappointment, I hate myself and figure God must be repulsed too. The mud sucks at my feet and holds me back from repentance. I feel too weak to ever leave the bog. I may as well stay and give in to sin.
A bridge gleams with rays of gold over the sulfurous mire. Its name is Grace. It was the most expensive bridge ever constructed, and also the most useful. I’m invited to skip directly from sin to repentance. I don’t have to spend another minute in languish.
The bridge is proof that I was wrong about God hating me. Even at the height of my rebellion, Father-God loved me. As I still love my two-year old child when she misbehaves, God, too, never pulls his love back. He wants me near him, even after I sin. That’s why he paid for the bridge—to carry me from sin to himself as fast as possible.
Jesus was over-qualified for the job on the cross. His death excessively cures my sin. After transference to him, I’m not only clean but I have a brilliant shine. I’m ultra-hyper-extra-free of any and all sin—free to begin over with new rules.
The rules of the bridge are simple. After I cross over, stop condemning myself and start thanking God. Stop acting self-sufficient and start expecting Jesus to get me out of sin. Stop living for temporal pleasure and start living for eternal love.
Above all, when I sin (and I will sin), be an adult about it. Get up, dust myself off, and run across the bridge to repentance—bypassing languish altogether.
Prayer: Father, when I sin, help me return to you.