A Call to Service in the Midst of Suffering
Look, I go forward, but He is not there,
And backward, but I cannot perceive Him;
When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him;
When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him.
But He knows the way that I take;
When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
Arthur W. Pink, writing in his book Comfort for Christians, reiterates that although Job could not see or feel the presence of God, he knew with absolute certainty that the Almighty Sovereign God saw him. He looked at life from the perspective of the eternal: that through the fiery trials, he would emerge as gold, purified and strengthened. Our God knows us intimately. He “knows all about my trials, my difficulties, my sorrows, my efforts to glorify Him.” What comfort for the Christian! Despite the misgivings of others, it is the loving chastisement of Christ on us that brings us to bear the most glorious and honoring of all blessings. It is the blessing of serving others in the midst of our storms to the glory and honor of Christ.
His refining fire brings us to the end of ourselves, empties us of all our pretensions, and burns away the dross of sin that so permeates our souls. As Thomas Watson wrote, “God’s rod is a pencil to draw Christ’s image more distinctly upon us.” As Christ came not to be served but to serve, as He was despised and rejected, suffering unto the point of death, shall we not be as He? Shall we not take up our cross through tempests also? Do we put off serving one another in love until our fiery trials are at end? That day will never be until we reach the shore of Heaven’s kingdom.
As God’s people, we are blessed to be bruised and broken in spirit for in our weaknesses and failings He dispenses His grace. He binds our wounds, imparting His strength and love in us and through us. Who but the broken and crushed are so well equipped to bring light and healing to a dark and hurting world? What love binds us to Christ more than one who fully understands the aches of a grieving and forlorn soul? There is immeasurable blessing in brokenness for it is our very state that lends to the healing graces of an Almighty Savior.
Through the veil we have asked ourselves, “Why is this happening to me?” or, “Why is God allowing this to happen?” Beloved! We are not asking the right questions! All glory and honor are due Christ. His purpose we may know not but we can be fully assured that His way is right. In all things He works to the good of those who love Him, bringing His good and perfect will to bear. The question, then, we need to ask of ourselves is, “How may I serve and glorify Christ in this time?” Let our hearts and minds be focused on Him, not on our trials.
He is pleased to bruise me. He is pleased to take from me all that is not rooted in Him: my strength, my hope, my affections. He continually empties me that He might fill me with Himself. Compassion. Tenderness. Love. Contentment. Joy. Service. The very things I lacked in the calm between storms He graciously fills me to overflowing.
Who is my neighbor? All who bear the image of God. This journey of life is difficult, every path laden with obstacles and perils. He has not meant for us to travel alone nor to forgo the needs of those along the way. Beloved, our gifts were not given to serve ourselves, to add to our happiness, but to be manifested for the glory of God. What greater love can we show than to serve those around us in His name, meeting the saving gospel of Jesus Christ to the tender and compassionate service of our individual gifts?
At times our burdens seem unbearable, our spirits deeply vexed. But it is these times that service is the balm to our weary souls. It is so easy for me to fall back into myself especially after the course of events that has befallen our family over the years. And now, with my son physically deteriorating for reasons unknown, the weakness in me beckons me to withdrawal even deeper. But I cannot. There is much work to do in the service of King Jesus. The world walks in darkness, reveling in its sin-rent devises. He has called us to battle, to truth, to service. He has made our trials the catapult to drive us into proclaiming the good news of the gospel and to work fervently for the cause of Christ. He that has begun a good work in us will bring it to completion. We who are beset by His grace and mercy will be carried along by His love. Onward Christian soldiers.
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