Torn To Heal

Come, let us return to the LORD. 

He has torn us to pieces; 

now he will heal us.  

He has injured us;

now he will bandage our wounds.

In just a short time he will restore us so that we may live in his presence.

Oh, that we might know the LORD!

Let us press on to know him.

He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn

or the coming of rains in early spring.

Hosea 6:1-3

We are grieved by various trials.  Peter acknowledges this reality of our lives.  We are torn, injured and wounded in our souls and our bodies.  Our pain and sorrow is real.  Death is real.  And here’s something else that is real:  Hosea states plainly that the Lord is behind these trials.  He has ordained them for us.  Peter says the trials are necessary! and that they result in praise and glory and honor at the [future] revelation of Jesus Christ. *

As I write this, my friend is digesting the news that her cancer is malignant; friends of mine in central Mozambique are dealing with hunger, destruction and death all around them and are past the breaking point; there are broken relationships that tear at our hearts; I continue to navigate my grieving process after the death of a dear loved one.  I cry out, we cry out, “Will this ever end?”

It will. 

“For a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials…”*

and

“In just a short time …” or, a more literal translation reads 

“In two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.”

How does our faith respond to the trial?  Our trial that God foresaw and didn’t prevent?  That He ordained?!  We are aghast!  What God is this?  Clearly, we don’t know him very well.  We don’t know God as well as we thought we did.  

“Oh, that we might know the LORD! Let us press on to know him.”

Press on to know Him.  Consider all that he says about himself, his ways, his laws, his mercy, and all his characteristics. He astounds us.  He brings us to our knees.  This God is truly a fearsome One.  A God with all the power to divert a given course of events, but who chooses not to in order to do something eternally merciful and gracious is a God who makes us tremble.  Such holy masterfulness boggles our minds.  And we can only respond in worship of Him.  Through our tears, may we cry out to God to help us know him better.  And may we worship him while we hurt.

Finally, the reality that will make this present pain but a bad dream: the power of God to heal that which is gruesomely torn, and his mercy to do it.  Let us press on to know Him, the God who loves us so much that He’s willing to wound us now in order to restore and refresh us in His presence eternally.  It won’t be long.  

“The same providence of God that afflicts his people relieves them.”          

Matthew Henry

*I Peter 1:6-7

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Perspectives from First Peter One (2)

In our first devotional study, Peter led us in praise.  I hope your soul has gained a right perspective by returning your mind often to praise. We pondered God’s person.  All other reasons for praising him are built upon the foundation of his holy person.  He is worthy to be praised simply because of who he is.   But now, see how eager Peter is for us to go on and ponder God’s actions.

His next sentence is  l  o  n  g  .  It seems to me that Peter is so eager to get the words out that he won’t even stop for a breath!  However, we’ll be stopping often along the way to catch our breath!  We’ll sit and rest, taste and savor – my New Testament version of the “Selah” found in the Psalms.

According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. First Peter 1:3-5

If you haven’t already, add these next verses to your folded 3×5 card. See Perspectives from First Peter One

According to his great mercy,

Mercy.  Great mercy.  This is something God has. Mercy, by definition, is the withholding of a punishment that is deserved.  What we read next is all possible because, and only because, of God’s mercy, not any merit in the receiver.  We are about to hear how God applies his mercy.

Let’s fly over the sentence to pick out the nouns and their modifiers (easy grammar, right?).  Your list might look something like this:

great mercy, living hope, resurrection, Jesus Christ, inheritance imperishable undefiled unfading, kept, heaven, God’s power, faith, salvation.  

Don’t these words fairly sparkle?  They are like diamonds, flashing in the light is we glide over them.  They draw our attention to the One responsible for these happy, dancing, superlative words.  The One responsible.  That would be the One doing the action.

he has caused us to be born again to a living hope…

God does it all. The resources from which God draws his generous mercy all belong to him.  He is the source of the resources!

birthday boyHe would soon turn six.  Our monthly check had already arrived and there was just enough for the daily basics.  But the money didn’t stretch far enough for extras, like cocoa, for his favorite chocolate cake.  And, there was no way to buy him a birthday present, either.  I was exceedingly concerned (worried is probably more like it.)  The day came.  No cocoa, no present.  So, we got really creative.  I had been on a carob kick and had a bit left.  Ta-da!  Chocolate cake.  Grandparents (bless their wonderful hearts) sent presents.  We had a little family party.  Maybe he never noticed, but I felt keenly the lack of a present from me and his daddy.  How could his own parents not get him anything?  We bought time.  “Instead of just a one-day celebration, we’ll celebrate you every day for a week!  It will be birthday week!”,  I explained, in hopes that a few extra dollars would show up before the week was over and we could present him with our gift to open.  Each day he got some little special treatment – choosing the story to read, alone time with Daddy, going to bed a bit later — you get the idea.  Nothing superlative.  A bit here, a bit there.

See what God has caused, what he has put into action for your sake!  His work is complete, perfect and permanent and satisfies every need we have for mercy.  He pours it on his own redeemed people abundantly, without holding back, from his bottomless resources.  He’s not limited by any lack of resources to apply his mercy to anyone who asks for it.  The effects of his mercy are reality and apply to your every day past, present and future.

Don’t forget to keep your card with you and glance at it often!  In between ins and outs of your daily schedule, ponder those nouns and their modifiers.  Take each one in turn.  Rehearse the definition of each word.  Resist the urge to rush on.  Let your heart sit awhile to ponder the list of things God’s mercy has made available to you.  This is reality that makes a difference – eternally.