The Lens for our Struggles
Hebrews 12:4-6 - "Your fight against sin has not yet meant the shedding of blood, and you have perhaps lost sight of that piece of advice which reminds you of your sonship in God:
‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by him;
for whom the Lord loves he chastens,
and scourges every son whom he receives.'"
With these words, the writer of Hebrews switches gears from talking about the joy of Jesus that carried Him through the cross to now talking about the day-by-day practicalities of our fighting for our own belief. And immediately he lands upon our first, and probably most major, stumbling-block: suffering.
Has anyone reading this ever gone through something hard? (Okay, so we're all perfectly aware of what he'll be talking about...)
But typically - and it doesn't matter what scale, what size, of challenge we're dealing with - when personal hardship comes, we tend to use that circumstance as the lens with which we'll now see God. "Oh, I can't afford to pay that bill" - He must not really be a good provider. "Oh, we haven't seen healing for that yet" - He must not really be capable of healing.
Yet the writer of Hebrews, in using that quote from Proverbs 3, is challenging us to look through a totally different lens, not at God, but at those circumstances themselves: we are now, he would remind us, the sons and daughters of God; under His constant perfect care.
"Oh, I can't afford to pay that bill" - but He's my Father: perhaps He's currently teaching me to trust Him more fully...
"Oh, we haven't seen healing for that yet" - but He's my Dad: I know He loves me and thinks of my well-being constantly...
And, to say it better than I ever could, let's conclude with my old pal Andrew Murray's thoughts on the subject:
“We often say that temptations that come to us from our position in life, from the struggle to live, from the conduct of our fellow-men, draw us away from God, and are the cause of our falling into sin. But if we only believed that our Redeemer is our Creator! He knows us; He appoints and orders our lot; nothing comes to us but what He has in His hands. He has the power to make our circumstances, however difficult, a heavenly discipline, a gain and a blessing. He has taken them all up into the life-plan He has for us as Redeemer. If we would but believe this, how we should gladly meet every event with the worship of an adoring faith. My Creator, who orders all, is my Redeemer, who blesses all.”
There are too many times when God has met my needs to recount them! The great part of this is that He is also teaching me to understand the difference between my needs and my wants. I can easily get them confused. It seems to me that when I am not aware of His blessings and how He is meeting my needs and working in my life that perhaps I have cataracts on my spiritual eyes. The goal of cataract surgery is to correct the decreased vision caused by the cataract. Surgery is never pleasant but it for my benefit.
I love this idea of "cataract surgery" as a picture of how differently we're to be seeing now. I'll be thinking about this all day!
The thought about cataracts was from my experience of helping a friend who had cataract surgery. Two questions come to mind as I reflect further on this idea of the lens of our struggles and cataracts. Arm I developing spiritual cataracts? How are those cataracts affecting my attitude towards life?
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