January 6, 2013

Keeping an eternal perspective

Several platitudes speak of perspective. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” How about this one: “You meant it for evil but God used it for good.” (Joseph to his brothers in Genesis 50:20) 

Yesterday’s post was about the value God has in mind when adversity comes. He also makes no exceptions. A godly believer like Job and Joseph faced extreme hardship just as an ungodly person might. Those who have received a lofty calling, as did Elijah the prophet, cannot expect that God will guard them from all harm, as if that is a right granted along with the calling. 

Jesus experienced the same as we do in that He was tempted in all points as we are yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). He suffered in weakness as a man who did not call on legions of angels to rescue Him. He served humanity as one of us and by dying for us. 

Elijah experienced this, also revealing the mind of God and that His view is much larger than our perspective. He knows that even though this prophet was His messenger, he would serve the people better as one of them, as suffering with them. Therefore, the very blessing Elijah enjoyed because of the special care and calling of God was taken from him.

And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. (1 Kings 17:7)

God does not make exceptions just because I am His child. Lofty calling or not, I cannot ever think that His blessings are my right. I cannot claim exemption from pain because I am a Christian. Yet I know that this happens. As Job experienced, when things go wrong, if we don’t think it ourselves, our friends might think that we must have done something evil to ‘deserve’ this for God ‘must’ always protect His obedient children.

As the devotional writer points out in today’s reading, at the heart this is the idea that, “because I am a prophet (or I am a child of God) and my resources/blessings can never dry up.” Yet one of the hardest lessons we must learn is that although God is love and loves us to the uttermost, those who trust and serve him will not be exempted from pain and sorrow. 

My salvation means I am saved from the punishment and power of sin, not from the cares and sorrows of this life. In serving Jesus, can I expect greater things from God than that which befell His Son? 

Yet even as Jesus did, I can rely on my Father. Jesus, for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despised its shame and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2). Whatever happens to me here cannot be compared with the glory that awaits me there.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17–18)

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