Wednesday, April 22, 2009

4-23 Cleansing through suffering

(I can't think of a more vivid image of suffering in our day than the twin towers. It was horror for those inside and shaping for those outside).
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

Calvin Whatever kind of tribulation presses upon us, we must ever look to this end: to accustom ourselves to contempt for the present life and be aroused thereby to meditate upon the future life. For since God knows best how much we are inclined by nature to a brutish love of this world, he uses the fittest means to draw us back and to shake off our sluggishness, lest we cleave too tenaciously to that love. (III.9.1)

The headlines said “The global economy is expected to lurch into reverse this year for the first time since World War II with appalling consequences for nations large and small — trillions of dollars in lost business, millions of people thrust into hunger and homelessness and crime on the rise. (AP 4/22). Economic pain is on the rise. I was talking to one of our young people at church today. They said that they recognize that there are some in the world who never have hope of anything in life. They said we could use the economic downturn to help us understand the poor in the world. How very true! How very Calvinistic. Calvin was a strong believer that God is always teaching us and molding us in His providence and by the events around us. The suffering we face can be a means to help us sympathize. But suffering, when we see it as a way to get rid of our dullness to God by means of bearing our crosses and denying ourselves (Luke 9:23), then suffering is a means of Cleansing. It is like cleaning our glasses. Suffering is a washing-- a “baptism by fire”, if you will, to purify away our indifference to God and wake us up to the reality behind all realities.

Prayer: Take our pain, O Lord and turn it into your gain. Open our eyes to see you at work in the world and in our lives.

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