April Showers Bring....A Grey, Damp June?

 

 

Morning man Chris Stigall of 1210 WPHT Talk Radio in Philadelphia spoke the other day about our current weather pattern, one into which we have been locked for some time.  “It’s a battleship grey we have this morning,” commenting upon the differing shades of grey with which we have become all-too-familiar. 

 

Spring 2018 has been, at least for those of us in the area round and about Philly, an unduly grey affair.  Nothing we can do about it, except ride it out and (if possible) learn to love it.  Few will achieve such a sentiment, but at least we can learn to work with it.

 

Contractors utilize rainy days by sending their men to work on indoor projects.  One can catch up with one’s reading when inclemency prevails on the other side of one’s walls.  And gratitude may carry the day, as the recognition dawns that we need the rain for the grass to grow and the flowers to bloom. 

 

April showers proverbially bring May flowers.  Life’s travails may afford opportunity for the better portions of our natures to materialize, though our lesser natures may also find opportunity to see the dark of day. 

 

Christians have been afforded a decidedly and distinctly biblical view of the trials and tribulations that life throws our way.  It is through the grey and dismal times that we may see the light of Christ at work in the immediate, let alone at the end of the tunnel.

 

“We do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4.16-18).

 

Heart is an easy thing to lose, as even the toughest amongst us can attest.  But we don’t lose heart; certainly, not Christians.  Three guiding principles are contained in this wonderful verse.

 

First, we are being revitalized even as we are being depreciated.  Our bodies are dimming in power, but our souls are expanding in the knowledge and experience of God’s love and truth.  I can speak to this, as I find that the older I get the more earnest I become for the life that God has for me, the life to which I am called, and the life that awaits me with my beloved Savior.

 

Second, the problems themselves, while they seem to be harming us, are actually being applied to our advantage, courtesy of God’s grace.  “All things work to the good of those who love the Lord, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8.28).  God has a remarkable knack for taking bad things and giving them parley into something good.  He pulls us out of the grime with us smelling like roses!

 

Third, we cast our eyes upon the Lord, and we keep them there.  Jesus is the answer and the antidote for all things.  “To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord,” as did the Psalmist (Psalm 27.4) is the ultimate elixir for men, women and children who aspire after something better and more than this benighted earth has to offer.  We need to fix both of our eyes, including our hearts and our minds, on Jesus, and not just one.  He must be at the forefront and be the foreground of our vision, and not mere background.

 

Hence; we have the foundation upon and the framework within which to better appreciate Paul’s remarkable assertion, one that has captivated me for over 40 years:

 

“We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5.3-5).

 

We can rejoice in our sufferings because we are already rejoicing in “the hope of the glory of God.”  We see and live through our difficulties and our trials because we see and live our lives through the prism of Jesus, who is our hope and our hope of glory.

 

It is because of Jesus and his suffering on behalf of all of us that our sufferings can be seen and be expected to do good for us.  Things like the development of perseverance and the building of character and the dawning of hope are impeccable credentials for the believing Christian.  There is nothing quite to rival them, especially given the fruitful and encouraging value of hope, a hope that brings forth and accentuates an outpouring of God’s love that is second-to-none in its value and its effects.

 

Nothing that the Holy Spirit does is ever insignificant or to be paralleled by any rival, whether of thought or of action.  Every Christian who is paying attention to what God is about will readily give such testimony.

 

 I so testify.  I have had my share of struggles and difficulties in life.  I have moped and whined my way through much of them, but God has correspondingly been strengthening me and providing for me and ultimately giving me vindication.  He has called me to stand fast and forth, and He has always sustained me to this end, notwithstanding and always amidst my tribulatory sessions.

 

And our travails can help to breed sensitivity within us towards others in order to be a blessing to those who endure their own travails.  It was certainly how the Apostle Paul saw it:   

 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort” (2 Corinthians 1.3-7).

 

To the point:  God blesses us so that we can bless others.  We are willing to endure difficulty – “to be distressed” – for the sake of others and of their welfare.

 

I’m not certain that there are too any people, even in the Church, who think like this, but there should be.  Such a way of seeing and of thinking and of living is at the very heart of Christianity.  Please; make no mistake about it.

 

I share with you this little gem:  I took my grand-daughter and a little girl from my church to the zoo a couple of years ago when they were much smaller.  The other little girl got nipped by a bird that she was trying to feed, and she was somewhat and literally shocked by what had happened.  She wouldn’t let me comfort her, but she rested her head on my grand-daughter’s shoulder, from which and from whom she took much comfort.  What a beautiful morale!  Just as Scripture envisions it; too!

 

But there is another thought that arises in tandem with this one.  It brings things to their ultimate head as to who we are and what we are about (pardon; please the preposition!):

 

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia.  We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us.  On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1.8-10).

 

We look to God.  We trust in God.  We wait upon God, for He delivers us.  He saves us.  It is all God.  We don’t and can’t look to ourselves, let alone others.  It is all God, and anything that brings us to that place at which we realize this is, in the final analysis, a good thing.  Remember; too, that God, and God alone, can bring forth such preeminent good put of such abysmal bad!

 

One more thought.  Just as we grow through struggles, just as we learn how to help others and just as we are brought into simple and all-encompassing trust in God, it is also true that our personal faith is being purified and proven by all that which gives us grief.  The Apostle Peter got it right when, reveling in the salvation that awaits us, he observes:

 

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1.6, 7).

 

Think of it.  Your faith is being tested.  It is being made real.  It will culminate in all of the great things – things like “praise, glory and honor” – when our great Savior returns in glory and power.  God is already declaring His glory from His throne by preparing you for glory right here and now.

 

I certainly trust that such reflections on life’s more exacting realities will prove helpful, even if daunting.  Not to worry; though, for summer is on the horizon for most of you … for myself; autumn is just beyond the next equinox, with its colors and its cooler temperatures.  And, for those of you who just don’t get the allure of this world, His Return is imminent … Any day; now, and it will be a whole new day – A day unlike any other; one that is cast against the grey and grim day in which we live, a day filled with the Light, not of the sun, but of the Son.  

 

Praise Him!

 

Bradley E. Lacey

June 1, 2018