Philip Yancey answers with some of the ways that God reveals Himself in the storms of life. “He has promised supernatural strength to nourish our spirit, even if our physical suffering goes unrelieved. He has joined us. He has hurt and bled and cried and suffered. He has dignified for all time those who suffer by sharing their pain. He is with us, now ministering to us through His Spirit and through members of His body who are commissioned to bear us up and relieve our suffering for the sake of the head. He is waiting, gathering the armies of good. . .. Then, He will create for us a new, incredible world. And pain shall be no more. Biblical and secular history is replete with examples of God speaking to His children in the storms of life. Not only has God spoken to them but He has also spoken through them. We can never compute the debt the world owes to sorrow.
Most of the Psalms have come to us out of the crucible of suffering. The messages of the prophets were often proclaimed out of trouble and travail. Most of the Epistles were written in prison. From Bedford jail, God spoke immortal words to the world with Pilgrim’s Progress” (Philip Yancey, Where is God When It Hurts?).
A CURE FOR LEPROSY
Leprosy disfigures the body. Sin disfigures body and soul. Leprosy separates people from people. Sin separates people from people and from God. Leprosy creates outcasts for life. Sin casts people into outer darkness for eternity. Which is worse—leprosy or sin? Of which would you rather be cured?
All have sinned and need a Savior, None can stand on that great day; sin has marred the perfect image of God once fashioned from earth’s clay. No disease is more deadly than sin—No cure more effective than the cross.
CLOSE THE GATE
After a round of golf, British statesman David Lloyd George and a friend walked through a field in which cows were grazing. They were so absorbed in conversation that they forgot to close the gate when they left the fenced area. Lloyd George happened to notice the open gate, however and went back to close it.
David Lloyd George told his friend that this little incident reminded him of a doctor, who when dying, was asked by a minister whether there was anything he wanted to say before he slipped away. “No, the doctor replied, except that through life I think I have always closed the gates behind me.” The dying man meant by this that he learned the secret of putting past failures and disappointments behind him so they wouldn’t rob him of his joy and peace. To enjoy the future accept God’s forgiveness for the past (Our Daily Bread, January 1st, 1991).
A GENUINE LIFE OF FAITH
I take Your promise Lord, in all its length, and breadth, and fullness, as my daily strength, into life’s future fearless I may gaze. For Jesus, You are with me all the days. There may be days of darkness and distress when sin has the power to tempt and care to press. Yet in the darkest day I will not fear, for amid the shadows, You will still be near.
Days there may be of joy, and deep delight, when earth seems fairest, and the skies most bright; Then draw me closer to You, lest I rest elsewhere, my Savior than upon Your breast. And all the other days that make my life, marked by no special joy or grief or strife, days filled with quiet duties, trivial care, burdens too small for other hearts to share. Spend those days with me, all shall be Yours. So shall the darkness hour with glory shine. Then when these earthly years have passed away, let me be with You in the perfect day (H. L. R. Deck).
THE SECRET OF FRUITFULNESS (JOHN 15:1-11)
I am yours and You are mine
What a precious truth to me
Lord, as I in You abide,
May I bear much fruit for You (Felten).
Fruitfulness for Christ depends on fellowship with Christ.
Peter Marshall once said, “God will not permit any troubles to come upon us unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty” (Till Armageddon).
Moody once said, “If the world has nothing to say against you, beware lest Jesus Christ has nothing to say for you” (Billy Graham).
REJECTION OF SALVATION
A certain atheistic barber was conversing with a minister of the Gospel as they rode through the slums of a large city. Said the unbeliever, “If there is a loving God, how can He permit all this poverty, suffering, and violence among these people? Why doesn’t He save them from all this?”
Just then a disheveled bum crossed the street. He was unshaven and filthy, with long scraggly hair hanging down his neck. The minister pointed to him and said, “You are a barber and claim to be a good one, so why do you allow that man to go unkempt and unshaven?” “Why, why. . .” the barber stuttered, “he never gave me a chance to fix him up.” “Exactly,” said the minister. “Men are what they are because they reject God’s help.”
God never alters the robe of righteousness to fit a sinner. He alters the sinner to fit the robe. This is what we call spiritual transformation.
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