Friday, July 15, 2005

Clinging to real hope

1 Cor 12
9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Worrying always results in sin. We tend to think that a little anxiety and worry are simply an indication of how wise we really are, yet it is actually a much better indication of just how wicked we are. Fretting rises from our determination to have our own way. Our Lord never worried and was never anxious, because His purpose was never to accomplish His own plans but to fulfil God’s plans. Fretting is wickedness for a child of God.
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest
It's funny how sometimes, when we pray out of great need and God does not respond the way we think He ought to, we look for explanations. Maybe there is a hidden blessing and I am ignoring it. Today, I find no explanations, no hidden blessings, just burden. I have been humbled enough times these past few months I am approaching Paul, wishing to boast in my weakness. I never really appreciated Paul's message until now. I am tired, life has become extraordinarily difficult, and I have no answers to multiple dilemmas. Have I not "earned" a reprieve? Why do the wicked prosper while I, one who has gone to great lengths to avoid the temptations of greed and deception, continue to wallow in financial hardship?

Still, in my head and my heart I know my struggles are nothing to this world. Though I see great need in my life, I am a relatively wealthy man in light of abject poverty in this world. Though I see malady, I am a relatively healthy man in light of great sickness and disease in this world. Though I cry out of need, I know I wasted what little I had when I had it, and I did nothing to ease others' financial burdens, not even a little. God continues to bless me, even though I view it dimly (perhaps callously) through the pain of my flesh. I still do not hunger. I still have protection from the elements. I still have a bed to sleep in and a wife who willingly shares my burdens.

I once boasted of my own contentment, but I am discovering I was not content at all, just blinded to how much God had blessed me and got me to this point with much grace. Now I am in a position of discontent. As much as I crave the comfort of knowing tomorrow will not be more difficult than today, that my cup will not be empty next week, all I have left is hope. Hope that God will provide, hope that God will take care of me, hope that God will keep me from defiling myself and others as I work through these problems.

Hope was a much easier thing to have when I was not encumbered by daily struggle. I work hard, I strive to honor God. I never looked at what I had as a great blessing, but rather, the fruits of my labor. Hope came easy because God's blessing on my house was bountiful. Was it a false hope? Perhaps. I pray for more of God's hope now, to be filled with His joy and peace and contentment, not the imitation the comforts of this world might offer. What a fool I have been, and I pray for his merciful forgiveness.

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