“My dear Sir,
You say you are more disposed to cry misery than hallelujah. Why not both together? When the treble is praise, and heart humiliation for the bass, the melody is pleasant, and the harmony good. However, if not both together, we must have them alternately: not all singing, not all sighing, but an interchange and balance, that we may be neither lifted up too high nor cast down too low, which would be the case if we were very comfortable or very sorrowful for a long continuance. But though we change, the Saviour changes not.
All our concerns are in his hands, and therefore safe. His path is in the deep waters; his thoughts and methods of conduct are as high above ours as the heavens are high above the earth; and he often takes a course for accomplishing his purposes directly contrary to what our narrow views would prescribe. He wounds, in order to heal; kills, that he may make alive; casts down, when he designs to raise; brings a death upon our feelings, wishes and prospects, when he is about to give us the desire of our hearts. These things he does to prove us; but he himself knows, and has determined beforehand, what he will do.
The proof indeed usually turns out to our shame. Impatience and unbelief show their heads, and prompt us to suppose this and the other thing, yes, perhaps all things, are against us; to question whether he be with us and for us, or not. But it issues likewise in the praise of his goodness, when we find that, in spite of all our unkind complaints and suspicions, he is still working wonderfully for us, causing light to shine out of darkness and doing us good in defiance of ourselves.”
Source: Ortlund, R. Doing us good in defence of ourselves, http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/rayortlund/2013/06/12/doing-us-good-in-defiance-of-ourselves/, (June 2013)
Now, believe it or not, we are threatened by such a free God because it takes away all of our ability to control or engineer the process. It leaves us powerless, and changes the language from any language of performance or achievement to that of surrender, trust and vulnerability….That is the so-called “wildness” of God. We cannot control God by any means whatsoever, not even by our good behavior, which tends to be our first and natural instinct…. That utter and absolute freedom of God is fortunately used totally in our favor, even though we are still afraid of it. It is called providence, forgiveness, free election or mercy…. But to us, it feels like wildness — precisely because we cannot control it, manipulate it, direct it, earn it or lose it. Anyone into controlling God by his or her actions will feel very useless, impotent and ineffective.
Richard Rohr, From Wild Man to Wise Man: Reflections on Male Spirituality
If we want to read and to pray the prayers of the Bible and especially the Psalms, therefore, we must not ask first what they have to do with us, but what they have to do with Jesus Christ. We must ask how we can understand the Psalms as God’s Word, and then we shall be able to pray them. It does not depend, therefore, on whether the Psalms express adequately that which we feel at a given moment in our heart. If we are to pray aright, perhaps it is quite necessary that we pray contrary to our own heart. Not what we want to pray is important, but what God wants us to pray. If we were dependent entirely on ourselves, we would probably pray only the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer. But God wants it otherwise. The richness of the Word of God ought to determine our prayer, not the poverty of our heart.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Psalms: the Prayerbook of the Bible
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
내가 확신하노니 사망이나 생명이나 천사들이나 권세자들이나 현재 일이나 장래 일이나 능력이나 높음이나 기픔이나 다른 어떤 피조물이라도 우리를 우리 주 그리스도 예수 안에 있는 하나님의 사랑에서 끊을수 없으리라.
Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)
Thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, and whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
but also in him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
지극히 존귀하며 영원히 거하시며 거룩하다 이름하는 이가 이와 같이 말하시되
내가 높고 거룩한 곳에 있으며 또한 통회하고 마음이 겸손한 자와
함께 있나니 이는 겸손한 자의 영을 소생시키며
통회하는 자의 마음을 소생시키려 함이라
I’ve been reminded recently that I really don’t have enough of the Word of God in my heart. So last week I committed to memory 5 verses, and I wanted to write them down somewhere so I wouldn’t forget what I worked on.
“Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Him — this is your spiritual act of worship.”
“그러므로 형제들아, 내가 하나님의 모든 자비하심으로 권하노니, 너희 몸을 하나님이 기뻐하시는 거룩한 산 제사로드리라. 이는 너희 드릴 영적 예배니라.”
– Romans 12:1
“Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”
“자기가 시험 받아 고난을 당하셨은즉, 시험받는 자들을 능히 도우시느니라”
“For Christ died for sins, once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God. He was put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit.”
“그리스도께서도 한 번 죄를 위하여 죽으사, 의인으로서 불의한 자를 대신하셨으니, 이는 우리를 하나님 앞으로 인도하려 하심이라. 육체로는 죽임을 당하시고, 영으로는 살리심을 받으셨으니.”
1 Peter 3:18
“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
“그러므로 내 사랑하는 형제들아, 견고하며 흔들리지 말며 항상 주의 일에 더욱 힘쓰는 자들이 되라, 이는 너휘 수고가 주 안에서 헛되지 않을 줄 앎이니라.”
1 Corinthians 15:58
“I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”
“내가 복음을 부끄러워하지 아니하노니, 이 복음은 모든 믿는 자에게 구원을 주시는 하나님의 능력이 됨이라. 첫째는 유대인에게요 또한 헬라인에게로다.”
In the pinch of the campaign up there, when everybody seemed panic-stricken, and nobody could tell what was going to happen, oppressed by the gravity of our affairs, I went to my room one day, and I locked the door, and got down on my knees before Almighty God, and prayed to Him mightily for victory at Gettysburg. I told Him that this was His war, and our cause His cause, but we couldn’t stand another Fredericksburg or Chancellorsville. And I then and there made a solemn vow to Almighty God, that if He would stand by our boys at Gettysburg, I would stand by Him. And He did stand by your boys, and I will stand by Him. And after that (I don’t know how it was, and I can’t explain it), soon a sweet comfort crept into my soul that God Almighty had taken the whole business into his own hands and that things would go all right at Gettysburg.
Abraham Lincoln, in 1863, when asked about the Battle at Gettysburg
Interesting food for thought. I think I’ll watch it again…
Film by Xiangjin Shi (A Brown/RISD collaboration!)