Beloved Brisbane Congregation,
How do we, personally, respond to suffering?
Whether it be contracting the coronavirus, or having difficulty buying toilet paper? Whether it be the kids complaining they are bored (for the 100th time), or the doctor diagnosing you with cancer?
There is much revealed about our hearts, and about our relationship with our God and Saviour, when we take the time to really examine what we are like in this area.
Hosea 7:14 says: “And they have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine, and they rebel against me.” This is our God speaking of those in His church of that day. The Holy Spirit tells us here of our natural inclination – wanting our “corn and wine” (what we think would make us happy), and striving to get this, but turning away from seeking and honouring our God. Then, when things are not the way we want them to be, we get very upset, and rebel. We wail and cry upon our beds feeling sorry for ourselves. We grumble and complain to whoever we think will listen, hoping to get others to feel sorry for us, and side with us in our thinking that we are very hard done by.
But the Lord says to us: here is the heart which is following Christ, knowing we have received all grace and mercy in Him, and is not worldly and self-centred. It is the heart which first, and always, cries genuinely and with faith, to the Lord. It is a heart that knows assuredly that our Sovereign King actually brought this suffering. His purposes are already being brought to pass through my suffering. Not only, but this is a heart which wishes to respond with gratitude to God for His grace and mercy, even in the midst of pain and sorrow. This is a heart which seeks comfort, strength and peace where it may be found.
From this place such a heart will also speak to others, but not with complaining, grumbling, or blaming. It will be a heart that honestly expresses its struggles, and at the same time expresses a confidence in the salvation of their Saviour. This will be a heart which practically is an encouragement to others, honours the name of our Redeemer, and unites others in seeking the Lord for our help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
May we remember, especially at this time: “This is the day which the Lord hath made” and therefore “we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
In Christ and His love,