Thursday, July 17, 2014

You are in Control

Dear Lord,

You know that I have struggled with physical (and - I’ll be honest - emotional) ailments ever since I can remember.  Through that life, I have progressed in my knowledge of what it means that You are in control.  

At first, You were almost like some sort of genie, who had the power to answer my prayers - and would, if they were well-meant.  As time passed, I noticed that You answered “No” to some of my well-meant prayers, meaning that my understanding must be flawed.  Then I learned from 1 John 5:14-15 that “This is the confidence which we have [before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him."  It wasn’t that my prayers should be well-meant, but that they should be in accordance with Your will.

Your will remained a bit nebulous to me.  And in that, I think You began teaching me more about Your sovereignty.  

Romans 8:28-31: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?”

There are even different facets to chew on in this small passage.  First, I learned that You “cause all things to work together” for my good.  This meant two things:  that You were all-powerful (which I later learned was a part of the meaning of sovereignty), and that You were good.  I knew from the beginning that You were good, but I don’t think that I had truly grasped that You had promised that You were good.

Yet, how did this coincide with my pain, both physical and emotional?  If You were good, then why did You allow me to suffer?  Or others, for that matter?  I thought that my definition of the word good might have to change in relation to You.

You taught me later that it wasn’t so much my definition of the word good in relation to You, as my perspective on what was good.  Continuing in that passage, it says that Your purpose for us is “to become conformed to the image of [Your] Son…”.  I had glossed over that previously because I hadn’t really understood what it meant.  It means that You are teaching us to be more like Your Son - like Christ - and that this is the good You intend for us.  Your personal goodness is related to this purpose, but it is not completely defined by it.

Your goodness is exemplified in the grace and mercy that You bestow upon us.  Those can also be difficult concepts to grasp the full impact of, at times.  Romans 5:8 sums it up (to a degree): “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Even before I turned to You, You chose to die for me; to take my sins upon You and to pay the penalty for them.  In fact, I turned to You because You loved me enough to do this.  I had no personal merit that caused You to choose me, it was simply Your good will.  You freed me, once and for all.  I still choose to follow the will of my flesh - my sin - at times, and each and every one of those sins was paid for in the sacrifice of Your Son.  

Yet, Your mercy and grace don’t stop there. You teach me every day, and give me the power through Your Holy Spirit, to live like Your Son lived.  To serve You as Your Son served You.  You made me one of Your children, and as such, a “fellow heir with Christ…”.  This is part of why it is so important that I become more like Christ.

As You continued Your teaching to me in the Romans passage above, I more fully understood the meaning of “If God is for us, who is against us?”  You used Philippians 1:18c-20 to help flesh it out a bit, and this is where the post “Victory” came from.

Philippians 1:18c-20:  “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”

Whether I live or die, or whatever I do, You will see Yourself glorified, and You use that same power, as You say in Romans, for the good of Your children (of which I am one).  If You possess that kind of victory, then Yes!  Who can be against us?!

So to bring it back to my pain.  If you cause all things to work together for Your glory and the good of Your children, then my pain is for my good (and likely the good of others of Your children), and also for Your glory.  So… pain isn’t so bad as I thought it was.  Why was I so afraid of pain?  Yes, it hurts, but if You ultimately possess the victory, then why should I be afraid of anything but You?

In my twenty-ninth year (thank you, grandpa, for educating me that I was in my twenty-ninth year, though I’m only twenty-eight), I face the unknown of the possibility of being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  You know that my aunt died of this.  As I look at this possibility, I am confronted by the fact that You are in control.  This trial of pain hasn’t changed, because Your purpose for it is still the same:  to make Your glory known, and to conform me to the image of Your Son - which is to my good.

So, to make a long story short, Lord, I am thankful that You are in control.  No one can stand against You and “win.”  Not sin, not pain, not death, not Satan.  You will have the victory.  And I have chosen - through the faith You empowered me with - to join You, for which, You made me a fellow heir with none other than Your only begotten Son!  

How amazing is Your love?!

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