Sunday, September 02, 2012

The Pain of the Profound

“David must have been plagued by a very fearful devil. He could not have had such profound insights if he had not experienced great assaults.” Martin Luther

We have many in my midst today struggling with the sovereignty of God through the mis-steps of man. A lot of my dear friends are saddened by a perceived sea of error, sin, cover-up, and bungling.

How do we respond to these times of disappointment without it seeming so weak and trite to quip “God’s will, man”?

We know the scripture of Romans 8:28 and Joseph saying “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” But that doesn’t help me right now.

So let me do some more examples from Church history. Can God be glorified through the splinters of theological and doctrinal disputes?

Is He glorified on a missed field goal or a botched fly ball?

Is the gospel going forth as stories unfold of slander or suicide?

When we say God is in control and victorious- you need to understand that there is nothing trivial about that answer.

We don’t get hurt so much today. We live with pain, but I want to suggest that it is less than the saints of old. Just over a hundred years ago, it was not uncommon to lose children. Old gravesites show us a world of lost infants, and toddlers, and sweet school children.

People did not have access to Tylenol or Advil. And there were not “Docs in a Box” on every corner.

Families did not have acu-weather red icons of tornados rushing to their city and almost no way of calling for help in an emergency.

I guarantee you that I am making someone mad right now when I propose that we don’t hurt as much anymore.

You are a fool- I know pain” You say, and I know you are right. But even a diagnosis of cancer is done in the light of prognosis and MRI’s and understanding. It is not the mystery of the day of darkness – and that helps.

AND it hurts. We win more than we lose. We get our way. We have food and clothes. We have enough peace for leisure and recreation. We have holidays and celebrations. We have so much good that we lose our need for God.
As I study history, especially church history, I am amazed at God’s good sovereignty. He allows the pain and screw-ups for reasons. Some of the times, the mystery remains- but in most cases time reveals the whys.

We want the “why” NOW!

For example, Why did the Ottoman Turks advance and threaten Europe during the 16th century? How could God allow such to advance?

Some would say that it is judgment of sin. And they would be right.
Others say rain falling on just and unjust. And they would be right.
The muslims would say 'Allah's will". And they would be wrong.

I say it was also to the glory of God and the advancement of the gospel and the growth of the church.

How? One way is that Charles V was prevented from wiping out the Lutherans because of his distraction of the Turks and his desire to keep a unified populace in a time of tension.

God allowed secular and sacred events to provide the right climate for growth and sustaining of The Reformation!

Please, don’t run from God during times of trial or trouble. Don’t distance Him in distress. Instead press in to Him. Have the confidence that He can and will work things out!

Romans 4:20 "No distrust made him (Abraham) waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification."

Does this answer all questions about our part? Do we stay “frozen chosen”? My answer is absolutely not. Step out in courage and go- but please, don’t wring your hands in defeat and keep a loser’s look and lean.

“You are worrying yourself sick because you cannot know how or where it will all
end. But were you able to understand it all, then I would have nothing to do with this
cause!” Martin Luther to Melancthon

“Human life without knowledge of history is nothing other than a perpetual childhood, nay, a permanent obscurity and darkness.” Philip Melanchthon


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