I know a brother who is a faithful “watchman on the walls,” warning the church (those that will listen) of current and likely future events and what the Word of God says about them. In his careful, thoughtful, interpretations of the Word he is one of the most scrupulously scriptural people I know. He lives alone and in intermittent, chronic pain.
I know a sister who praises God with almost every other breath and prays trustingly for healing for herself and others. For every one of the many years I have known her, her compounded illnesses have made Diane’s look by comparison like a papercut and a sniffle.
The day before Diane died, I met a sister at the hospital who has done more to stop the legal killing of the young, weak, and old than any other person in Vermont. One of her flesh and blood had just suffered crippling, 10-on-the-pain scale orthopedic trauma. She is living proof that those who do hand to hand combat with the Spirit of Death are not spared trial and tribulation.
I look at these dear, godly folks, every one of whom would proclaim Hallelujah to the hilltops if their suffering, or that of their loved ones, were to miraculously end, soldiering on, soldiering forward, through the mustard gas and bayonets of the trench warfare of Kingdom. And I ask – why, Lord? Why, why, WHY? You are love and grace and they are your beloved children, princes and princesses all as Pastor Peter Anderson proclaimed this morning - why do you not deliver them??
…..And I find His answer – one of them, anyway – in II Corinthians 4:
“But we have this treasure (the life of Christ) in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hardpressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body…..therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary glory are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
This is a hard teaching – who can accept it?