Thursday, August 7, 2008

Pure Joy found in Bittersweet Providence

James 1 (NIV)

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
9The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.
12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

The River Church had an awesome time of practical preaching on Sunday and Joey challenged everyone to read the book of James. I was thinking over this passage in James and had a lot of thoughts working through my heart and mind. With studying Ruth and Romans 9 very extensively, the providence of God has been heavily on my mind. It is something that is so, so good but sometimes very bittersweet as well. I remember the first time I took communion with real wine. The cup is a reminder of the most sovereignly guided event in history: the cross. When the Holy Spirit opens our eyes, we see both what our sin has done to us and and has done to the heart of God. On the flipside of that, we also see what God has done to sin and what God is doing with our hearts. The cup is bitter and reminding us of what our sin has done; but at the same time sweet, showing us that only through the Cross, we are finally able to see the most glorious aspects of God: His mercy and grace (See Eph. 1). I was reading several blogs from some friends from The River and thought of the words from this song. I do not remember actually having heard this song in person before, but I found it in a hymn book and read about the author's life. William Cowper had many trials and tragedies in His life that could have drove Him away from God. But God, in His mercy and wisdom, had used all of these things to drive Cowper deep into the heart of God and through it he saw the glory (or weight) of who God is. From a man who could have easily cursed God because of what had happened to Him, comes the song God Moves in Mysterious Ways.

God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.

No comments:

Post a Comment