April 6, 2013

An undeserved mercy

People who have been disappointed in love, ambition, loss and the sins of others can take their grief too far, as if we have a right to have our way in all things all the time. Today’s devotional reading says we need to be careful -- for if the Lord were to deal with us according to our sins, we would have something to bear far worse than any present disappointment.

For Christians, we are not to allow anything, including deep disappointment, to destroy our peace. I’ve noticed so often when my heart is crushed, there is a good deal of sin mingled with the sorrow, and a great deal of pride and even creature-worship and idolatry mixed in there too. If I make an idol and God loves me, I can be certain that He will break my idols.

A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear? (Proverbs 18:14)

This verse asks a rhetorical question, but there is an answer for it; Christ bears the crushed spirit. He bears our pain and suffering, but also bore all the sin and selfishness that is mixed with it.

Yesterday I listened to a lecture about His suffering on the Cross. The professor said that before Jesus could say, “It is finished” He had to experience everything that sinners deserve. For that reason, the speaker believes that Jesus experienced that biblical “descent into hell” before He died.

Hell has been said to be everything that God is not. Human language is no doubt inadequate to describe this. The Bible uses metaphors, but fire and brimstone are not sufficient. The lecturer tried to describe what it would be like for One who had perfect communion with God to be abandoned because of His Father’s wrath on the sin He bore as our substitute. His description erased all my wonder at why Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” For Jesus and for our sake, this was hell.

My disappointments are nothing. All my sin and pride that is behind thinking that my life should always be perfect was born by the sinless one. In bearing that sin, plus all sin for all time, He experienced death and hell instead of me. What can be said about that? Only that no matter how I weep, repent, or try to live a godly life, it could never be enough. Not only that, I should never be surprised by suffering, nor think that my fate is the worst thing or my pain is more than I can bear. Compared to Jesus, all of it is nothing. Truly, my salvation is by grace, an undeserved mercy.

No comments: