Friday, May 11, 2007

Preparing for Trials

Every day a portion of the time that I spend with God goes to reading from Morning and Evening, a devotional book by Charles Spurgeon. This morning's selection was based on Matthew 28:20, where Jesus promised his disciples, "I am with you always." Here is an excerpt:

"It is good that there is One who is always the same and who is always with us. It is good that there is one stable rock amidst the billows of the sea of life. Let us not set our soul's affection upon rusting, moth-eaten, decaying treasures but set our hearts upon Him who remains faithful forever. Let us not build our house upon the moving quicksands of a deceitful world but base our hopes upon this rock that, amid descending rain and roaring flood, shall stand immovably secure. My soul, I charge you, lay up your treasure in the only secure cabinet; store your jewels where you can never lose them. Put your all in Christ; set all your affections on His person, all your hope in His merit, all your trust in His efficacious blood, all your joy in His presence, and then you may laugh at loss and defy destruction."

A few days ago, Dave and I were talking with our friends Erik and Jerusha about what easy, blessing-drenched lives we lead. Within our circle of friends and acquaintances, there are young couples who are experiencing very real pain and suffering--the death of a baby, a little boy's battle with cancer, and other encounters with grief and uncertainty. Dave and I have never had to face such trials, or anything that even comes close. The only trial we have known is the trial of prosperity--the challenge of trusting and loving God more than all of the blessings we enjoy, the challenge of enjoying God more than all of the distractions that our world offers.

But sooner or later, we all experience a degree of suffering, don't we? Just live long enough, and you or someone you love well is bound to experience sickness, loss... and, sooner or later, death. That's not morbidity--that's just the truth, and anyone who says differently is selling something.

The reading from Spurgeon this morning reminded me, in a good way, that this precious life I enjoy may not always look quite so rosy. Some day I too, will have to endure a measure of sadness--be it less or more than others I know. I want to be ready for that day, and Mr. Spurgeon has wisely equipped me to prepare for coming trials. What must I do? I must put all of my hope in Jesus Christ, who died to save me from sin and rose to secure for me a life that will be infinitely better than the one I am living now. I must enjoy and be thankful--so thankful--for the rich blessings in my life. But I must also remember that all things in this world are passing away. Nothing that I have now will last forever--not a wonderful marriage to an incredible man, not an adorable baby girl, not a healthy pregnancy and the hope of a newborn son, not a nice townhouse in a safe neighborhood, not healthy parents and sisters. None of these things can last beyond the grave, none of them can promise me, "I am with you always." None of them can support the hope of my eternal soul--and none of them is worthy to do so. Only Jesus.

Father God, may I put all of my hope and faith in your Son, who has given his promise to be with me always. Lord, You alone are eternal, You alone can provide blessings that surpass and outlast what I see before me now. May I live with the treasures of your Kingdom at the forefront of my mind and be willing to surrender everything else in its time.

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