Do You Imitate The Creative Generosity of God?

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When it comes to giving and receiving gifts, I have a one track mind. When people ask me for a Christmas list, the list I give them is books, all books, and nothing but books. And when I start shopping for gifts, my first thought is, What have I read lately? I have to work to be creative here, otherwise my gifts will all end up having dust jackets and ISBN numbers. Maybe you know someone like me. Every year you get the same generic card with a hastily scrawled signature, the same subscription to the jelly-of-the-month club (you don’t even like jelly), the same kind of hideous tie with Walt Disney characters on it. Money was invested, but certainly no thought! None of us want to be that kind of gift-giver. But, as a Christian, have you ever thought about why creativity generosity is a good thing? Here’s the short answer: creative generosity reflects the character of God.

If you were to catalog all the ways God has blessed you in the last week, the last month, the last year – how creative has God been as he lavishes his goodness on you? Think of examples from every sphere of life: favor with a co-worker or client. An evening of joy and rest with your family. A vacation that refreshed you in body and soul. A good conversation with a friend. A sermon that spoke to you or a song that brought your hope. God’s goodness is not one-size-fits-all, nor is it a short playlist set on “Repeat” mode. In countless ways –often small and unnoticed by us – God litters our lives with expressions of his creative care. “The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works,” David says in Psalm 145:7.

There are two ways we respond to the creative bounty of God. First, take notice of it! Look for those small kindnesses of the Lord that brighten everyday life. An example: recently I realized at 8:30pm that I needed a prop for a teaching I was giving the next morning at 8am. I ransacked my house but couldn’t find what I needed. I called a friend – no success. A second friend thought he might have it, but wasn’t sure where to find it in his storage shed. He gave me permission to come try my luck. I don’t want to be up all night looking for this, I thought as I drove to his house. Please let me find this quickly, Lord. I stepped into his building, and the first thing I saw was my prop, sitting out on a bench in plain sight. Was it life-changing? No. Was it a genuine expression of the care of my Father, who knew it would stress me to be up late looking for my prop? Without a doubt. He is kind in all his works.

But there’s a second way we respond to God’s creative generosity. Imitate it! Look for the small ways you can bless those around you. If you have someone stay the night at your house, leave a chocolate on the guest room pillow. Do a little investigative work to find out their favorite dessert and serve it. Discover that daily chore that your spouse hates and take it for them. Make note of the book a friend says they want to read, and buy them a copy (sorry, the bookworm is back). Our days contain hundreds of opportunities to show creative kindness and generosity to the people God brings into our paths. And those actions, done in faith, have a deeply theological value: we are imaging God, our Creator who providentially orders all our days, and our Redeemer who graciously uses every situation to bring about good in our lives. He is kind in all his works, so be eager for opportunities to be kind in all your works.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Eph. 5:1-2).

We Know Something Nobody Else Knows

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And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

We who have trusted in Jesus know something. We know something no one else knows. It is one of the great secrets of life and one of the keys to consistent, deep, abiding joy. What do we know? That our sovereign God, Jesus Christ, the Lord of history, who reigns on his throne for us, causes all things – ALL things – to work together for our good. Really? ALL things? Yes. All things.

All of history. Kingdoms and rulers, wars and discoveries.
All that has happened in our lives – Where we were born, the country, state and town you live in, the language you speak
The period of history we live in
Our education (or lack of)
Every event in our childhood and teenage years.

Jesus causes all good things to work for our good:

First of all, Jesus’ own life was and is for our good, both in eternity and now. Every word he spoke, every action, every miracle – they all work for our good now, especially the cross and the resurrection.
All of heaven, the angels and saints above.
The Bible and prayer – how powerful they are!
The church, worship, giving, preaching, serving, the gifts of the Spirit, working through conflicts with brothers and sisters – it’s all for our good.
Our families – our dads, moms, brothers, sisters, children, grandparents.
Our friends.
Books, music, art, technology, medicine, computers, the internet, television.
Jesus causes all of creation – the stars and galaxies, gravity, the laws of thermodynamics, plants and animals and birds and bugs (yes, I tell myself, even our two dogs) to work for our good.

It’s easy to see how God uses all good things for our good. But we know by faith that Jesus causes all evil and bad things to work together for our good. Jesus turns to our good:

Every sin we’ve committed. By no means does this encourage us to sin for sin offends our holy God. We may look back on our sins with deep regret and sadness, but Jesus is so great he causes even them to work together for our good. Jesus also uses:
Our temptations and struggles
All things from our past, tragic or sad
Every evil in the world
Satan and demons
Every trial, affliction and tragedy we face now
Every sad thing
Every sickness and disease
Every lack
Every failure, or poor decision
Every bad thing someone does to us, every sin someone commits against us.

But wait, there’s more: Jesus works together for our good:

Times of waiting
Unfulfilled hopes
Joy, sorrow
Hunger, thirst
Weakness, pain, confusion, misery, boredom, emptiness. You get the idea.

Why do all things work together for our good? Because Jesus is on the throne, sovereign over all, and he loves us. He works day and night for our good. Not one single thing that happens to us is outside his control or purpose for us.

And what is our “good?” To be like him, to know him and enjoy his fellowship and love. To be holy like he is, and have his image stamped upon us. To be overflowing with the fruit of his Spirit. To be filled with his joy forever.

Let us remember this today and give him praise for everything that happens to us. Let’s praise him for as much as we can. For every good thing and every bad thing. Someday we’ll see how Jesus’ divine genius worked them for our eternal everlasting good.

Bundle Up – and Behold Our God

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Tuesday I went for a short run after work. It was 4:30, and the temperature was 15°. I hope to regain feeling in my face by Easter. Aerobically speaking, I think I could have achieved the same result by pouring burning oil into my lungs. Now while you may not be dumb enough to go for a run in the recent cold weather, if the multiple headlines using the words “Polar Vortex” were true, many of you experienced temperatures equally as cold if not colder.

So here’s a question: what can we learn from a cold spell? (Apart from “Stop running, you idiot.”) Is there anything a polar vortex can teach us about our God? Actually, there is. Listen to this description of God from Psalm 147:16-17:

“He gives snow like wool; he scatters hoarfrost like ashes. He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold?”

Who can stand, indeed? When the temperatures plummet as they have in the last few days, we stand witness to a fresh glimpse of the power of God. Our weakness and frailty before creation is brought starkly to our remembrance. Despite all our modern technology, our synthetic fibers and engineered heat systems, the best we can do is minimize the effects of the cold. If we attempt to face the frigidity without any protection, we will suffer the consequences. The power of the cold is a display of the power of God.

There’s also another aspect of God’s character shown: his goodness. Why isn’t our planet constantly bombarded by freezing, sub-zero temperatures? What makes the majority of our world, most of the time, a warm and hospitable place for weak humans to live? The goodness and wisdom of the Lord. Yes, scientifically speaking it has to do with weather patterns and atmosphere and ozone and all that – but as Christians we understand that’s just another way of describing the wise and loving care that God has lavished on our planet. God created a world that would sustain human life, and even after our rebellion against him he still sustains us and makes our lives possible. The cold we’ve been experiencing will pass. Warmth, spring, and summer heat waves will return. But imagine if God instead unleashed the full power of his cold on our planet – who could stand then? Polar vortexes demonstrate not only the power of God, but also his goodness to men and women on planet Earth.

The polar vortex may have left, but it’s still winter. Cold temperatures are the order of the day. So when the mercury plummets again, make sure you bundle up. Instead of a run, maybe stay home and drink hot chocolate. But as you bundle up to face the cold, remember to behold the power and goodness of our God and Creator. Who can stand before his cold?

Photo by NASA Goddard  Photo and Video

What Should You Do When You’re In Trouble? Cast Yourself On Mercy

The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (Exodus 34:6).

When God passed before Moses, after proclaiming his name, “The LORD, The LORD, the first quality God attributed to himself was mercy. Our God is merciful. The Old Testament repeats this over and over. Jesus affirmed it as well:

Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.(Luke 6:36)

God is merciful! He is full of tender mercies. What an amazing incredible attribute for the God who is sovereign and all-powerful to have. How good to know that the God who is infinitely holy and perfectly just is a fountain of mercy.

Jesus always responded to pleas for mercy:

And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” (Matthew 15:22)

And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. (Matthew 17:14-15)

And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”  The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” (Matthew 20:30-31)

Jesus healed the woman’s daughter, cured the father’s epileptic son, and gave the blind men sight.  Why?  Because they cried to him for mercy.

To cry out for mercy is to humble ourselves. It is to admit to God that we don’t deserve any good thing from him. It is to recognize that he is a gracious God who blesses us not because of worthiness but because he is generous and lavish.

It was the love and mercy of our God that sent Jesus. We had stored up wrath and judgment for ourselves. God would have been completely just to banish us to hell forever. But in mercy he gave his justice to Jesus, who didn’t deserve it, and poured out his mercy on us, who certainly didn’t deserve it.

I regularly plead with Jesus to have mercy on me and my family. It gives me faith to recall that God is merciful. Before Jesus saved me I believed God was in heaven, lightning bolt in hand, poised to punish me for every failure. What an incredible revelation to learn he waits to pour out mercy on me.

I don’t know about you, but I sin, fail, miss the mark, drop the ball, make mistakes and poor decisions every day. I’m weak and needy. I find myself in situations that are way over my head and out of my control. I’m praying about family and friends facing afflictions that loom like mountain ranges. Just like you, I face uncertainty all the time.

Remember today – Our God is merciful. He is full of mercy. Cast yourself upon his mercy. He gives grace to the humble. He won’t turn away a plea for mercy.

O Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner!

 

I’m Having Way Too Much Fun to Be Amish

I recently finished reading Ira Wagler’s memoir Growing Up Amishand I highly recommend it. It is a very enjoyable read, and it gives a wonderful, fair, balanced view of what it means to be Amish. It doesn’t overly romanticize the Amish like so many Christian fiction books do, nor does it overly criticize the Amish way of life.

One of Ira’s great struggles throughout his Amish life (he finally left the Amish community at age 25) was the immense number of rules he was required to obey without question. These rules included:

  • No electricity or phone in the main house (and potentially other structures depending on how strict the particular Amish sect was).
  • Only wearing “barn door pants”, which are pants without a zipper.
  • Always wearing “galluses” (suspenders).
  • No modern entertainment, including music or books.
  • No rubber on the wheels of a buggy (again, there was leeway on this depending on the strictness of the sect).
  • And many, many, many other rules.

The Amish stay away from these things because they are “worldly”. In a desire to stay pure and unblemished by the world the Amish separate themselves as much as possible. When Ira would chafe and thrash against the rules he was always told, “This is how the Amish have always done it.”

Now, I’m sure there are many godly, born-again Amish men and women, and I’m sure their simple lifestyle has many benefits. However, the more I read the more I thought about how many good, holy gifts the Amish are missing out on. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein…” God, in his abundant, lavish, creative, even frenzied generosity, has filled the earth with good things. His good, rich, common grace is everywhere, bursting forth from every nook and cranny. His image and glory fill the entire Earth.

When I make dark, oily, rich French Press coffee, I am enjoying a gift from God. When I hear Eric Clapton ripping off an incredible guitar solo, I am enjoying the musical gifts God gave to Clapton. When I get sucked into a legal thriller by John Grisham, I’m enjoying the literary gifts God put into Grisham. When I watch a J.J. Abrams movie, I’m enjoying the visual and aesthetic gifts God has given to J.J. Abrams. God’s glory and gifts are scattered everywhere we look if we only have eyes to see.

As Ray Ortlund Jr. says in his commentary on Proverbs:

What did Solomon understand that made such a difference? He connected the Lord with real life, all of it. First Kings 4:29–34 tells us that Solomon was a Renaissance man. He was fascinated by everything. He studied plants, from the cedars of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of a crack in a wall. He studied animals. He composed music. He did not compartmentalize God. He understood that everything is connected with our Creator, and therefore everything is interesting.

I love that! Everything is connected to our Creator, therefore everything is interesting! Does sin pollute and pervert the good gifts of God? Yes, of course. But that doesn’t mean we should throw out the gifts altogether.

The Amish aren’t the only ones guilty of discarding and ignoring God’s gifts. Under the guise of holiness, we too can create rules that prevent us and others from enjoying what God has declared to be good. And in our good desire to guard our children from sin we can inadvertently teach them that certain good things are evil.

Does that mean I’m going to watch The Exorcist with my daughter Charis? No. But I want her to be able to see the glory of God everywhere. I want her to be able to see God’s creativity in the creativity of Roald Dahl (author of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory). I want her to feel God’s creative energy when she listens to “Imagine Dragons”. I want her to thankfully enjoy a glass of wine with her steak. By God’s grace I want to teach her to carefully, thankfully, and reverently see God’s glory in all that she does.

Again, I love how Ray Ortlund Jr. puts it:

Because of Christ, everything God made will be redeemed. So even now everything is, in principle, eligible for wise enjoyment under Christ (1 Timothy 4:1–5). The NFL is good, fallen, and redeemable. Gardening is good, fallen, and redeemable. Your job is good, fallen, and redeemable. Everything—the arts, the military, family life—everything God created is good, and we should rejoice in God our Creator. John Calvin was believing the doctrine of creation when he wrote, “There is not one little blade of grass, there is no color in this world, that is not intended to make men rejoice.”

I’m going to pursue holiness with all my might. But God is way too much fun for me to be Amish. 

Why God Doesn’t Give Me Super Powers

The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.  Psalms 34:10

This is an unbelievable promise. Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.  Not some good things.  But NO good thing.

I would think that super powers would be a good thing. Of course, then I’d have to get a secret identity, buy expensive costumes, and spend lots of my time fighting crime.  Maybe super powers wouldn’t be such a good thing.  Super hearing would probably be really annoying when you’re trying to have a conversation with a friend in Starbucks and you can hear every conversation, slurp of coffee, and fly walking on the ceiling for 5 miles around.

But seriously wouldn’t a husband be a good thing for a single mom? And healing a good thing for a sick person? Wouldn’t wealth be a good thing for someone in poverty?

It seems like it would be a pretty good thing for God to take away every one of my trials.  Yet he doesn’t do that.  I’m asking God for a number of good things – at least they seem to be good things to me – that he hasn’t seen fit to give me yet.  So how does this square with his promise that those who seek him will lack no good thing?  Puritan David Clarkson says:

“A father who loves his child only keeps things from him for his good, because he loves him. You can conclude that if you lack something of enjoyment, it is withheld since it is not best for you.”

“Afflictions are far from being signs of Christ’s hatred. Many times they are evidence of his love (Hebrews 12:6-11). The people of God only lack what is bad for them. God has promised to withhold no good thing.”

If it seems like we lack some good thing, it is because we’re limited in wisdom. In his infinite wisdom and love, God knows what would be truly good for us and the best timing to give things to us.

Some “good things” would actually be bad for us. Abundance might lead us to deny God, as the writer of Proverbs says:

… give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?”… Proverbs 30:8-9

Sometimes God withholds seemingly good things to give us the best things, like patience and faith and perseverance. And it’s far better to draw near to Christ in prayer and have fellowship with him than to receive earthly things.

Sometimes God withholds good things so we’ll appreciate them more when he finally gives them to us. What incredible joy the father of the prodigal son had when his son who had been “dead” returned. I’m sure the woman who’d had a hemorrhage for 12 years and exhausted all her money on doctors appreciated Jesus’s healing mercy till the end of her days.

If you think something would be a good thing, ask God for it. He doesn’t mind if we ask. And trust him to give it to you in his perfect timing if it is a good thing. And while you’re waiting, remember that Christ is your treasure, and you have all God’s riches in him now.  Jesus is our joy, our happiness, our satisfaction, our fountain of life and greatest good.

Experience God’s Personal Comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

There’s so much about affliction we don’t understand.  But God gives us glimpses into his purposes for it in our lives.

One of those purposes is that we experience God’s love in a way we never would apart from suffering.

One reason God ordains that we suffer is that we might experience his personal comfort.  The “God of all comfort…comforts us in all our affliction.”  The God who created the universe bends down to bind our wounds, pour out compassion on us, and comfort our aching hearts.  God comforts us – personally!  Isn’t that incredible.  He doesn’t delegate it.  And no one can comfort like the God of all comfort.

But God has even greater purposes in our affliction than our own experience of God’s personal comfort.

For after we experience his comfort, then we will be able to comfort others – those going through “any affliction” – with God’s comfort.  We hurt; God pours out his healing balm on us; we take that balm and pour it on others.

One thing that makes this kind of comfort so powerful is that we’ve been through it.  No one can identify with the “fury of depression” or severe anxiety like someone who’s experienced it .  No one can sympathize with someone who has lost a loved one like one who has also been through a loss.  But God says we can comfort those in “any affliction” because we have had an experience of affliction.  We may not go through the precise suffering someone else does, but we know what pain feels like.  We know what suffering feels like.  And we can tell others from experience that God cares for them.  We can assure them that God was faithful to us and will be faithful to them too.

What an incredible joy!  What a privilege!  To comfort others with God’s comfort.  To be used by God to administer divine mercy, compassion and care on others.

If you are suffering today, know that God cares deeply for you and longs to comfort you personally.  Call out to him.  Pour out your heart to him.  Tell him your troubles.  Pray to him as the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.  Ask him to comfort you.  And expect him to use you in his timing to bring his comfort to others.

Bags and Bags and Bags of Grace

“Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!”  Psalm 31:19

A local coffee roaster has bags and bags and bags of coffee beans stacked up in his warehouse, waiting to be roasted.  God has bags and bags of grace and mercy stored up in his heavenly warehouses for his children (John Bunyan). Not just a little bit of goodness – abundant goodness. God doesn’t just give us enough grace to barely get by. He blesses us lavishly. He opens the storehouses of heaven and pours out blessings we can’t contain.

After feeding the multitude there were 12 baskets of bread left over. There was more bread afterwards than he had to start with.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
(Psalm 23:6)

Is this how you think about God and your life?  Do you have a goodness and mercy mindset?  Can you see God’s goodness and mercy on your tail when you look back?  I feel like I can’t keep up with all God’s mercies to me.  I can’t keep track of them all.

God’s thoughts toward us are too many to number. His steadfast love for us is higher than the heavens are above the earth. He removes our sin as far as the east is from the west. God gives us these poetic pictures that we might grasp that his goodness toward us is infinite beyond measure.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)

God’s riches of grace in Christ to us are so “immeasurable” they will take “the coming ages” for him to lay them out for us.  Did you hear that?  He didn’t say he’d be showing us his riches of grace for the next 1000 years – it’s going to take him the next 1000 ages.  For all eternity God will give us one long pleasure cruise tour of the storehouse of his kindnesses to us.

Ok, my brain just shut down.  I can’t comprehend ages and ages of God showering me with his kindness.  I can’t even take that in.

Given all the goodness God has stored up for us, we should never have a mentality that we won’t have enough. That God somehow won’t meet our needs or supply all we need. He’s a generous, lavish God who anxiously waits to pour out his kindness on us.

The God who dresses the lilies of the field more stylishly than Solomon will surely meet all the needs of those who take refuge in him.

Blessed To Not Be Blessed

Winning the lottery is like throwing Miracle-Gro on your character defects
–Quote from a TV show on the lottery.

Sometimes we’re blessed to not be blessed.

What I mean by “not to be blessed” is not blessed in the way we think we should be.  Or the way we want to be.  God is so wise that sometimes he withholds blessings from us because he knows we couldn’t handle them.  That we’d forget him.  That we’d fall too much in love with this world.  That we’d ruin ourselves.  That it would throw Miracle-Gro on our character defects.

Psalm 84:11 says God doesn’t withhold blessing from his children:

No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.

God withholds NO good thing from those he loves.  So if God does withhold something from us, we can know that it must not be a good thing for us.  We might think it would be a good thing, but we need to trust God’s wisdom.  He knows what we’re made of and what would tempt or ruin us.  He knows that winning American Idol wouldn’t be good for most of us.  Lots of money wouldn’t be a good thing for most of us.  Too much honor and adulation wouldn’t do most of us good either.  Agur, author of part of Proverbs says:

Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the LORD?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.
(Proverbs 30:8-9)

I’ve got to admit, it’s hard to pray this prayer.  I can easily pray “Don’t give me poverty,” but I don’t add the second part, “or riches.”  Because I think riches would be good.  I want more than just needful food.  I want to feast on steak and cake and cookies.  Agur says it’s just as dangerous to be rich as it is to be poor.  He says if we’re poor we can be tempted to steal, which profanes God’s name.  But when we’re rich we can be tempted to deny God and say “Who is the Lord?”  If have everything, you can think you don’t need God.

Sometimes God uses sickness or poverty to “hem us in” – to keep us back from harmful things we’d pursue if we were healthy enough or rich enough.

If God isn’t pouring out on you the “good” we think you should have – whether it be wealth, a wife, a husband, a child, a job, a break, health, a home, whatever – it might be that if you had it, it might not be for your good.  God is out for your best, which is to know him, and be conformed to his likeness.  So seek to be content to have Christ alone.  If we have him we have the infinite riches of God.  We have all the good God can give us.  If God hasn’t given us something we’ve asked for, we can seek him for it, but then let us trust his wise providence.  He’ll give it to us if it’s really good for us.  He’ll withhold it if it’s not.

God will prune us.  He’ll cut off branches that don’t bear fruit.  But he won’t throw Miracle-Gro on the weeds in our hearts.

And that’s something to praise him for.

Anything That Is Good For Us

The best question we can ask ourselves when we’re feeling discontented, despondent, overwhelmed or fearful is “What am I believing about God right now?”

Do I believe God is in control?  Do I believe he is being good to me?  Do I believe he cares about me?  Or do I believe that somehow God’s left the building and forgotten about me?  Or he’s temporarily lost control of the universe.  Or perhaps he is mad at me and punishing me for some reason.  Or giving me too much for me to bear.

We must continually fight to believe that God has made a covenant to never turn away from doing good to us (JE 32.40).

Surely if [God] would not spare his own Son one stroke, one tear, one groan, one sigh, one circumstance of misery, it can never be imagined that ever he should, after this, deny or withhold from his people, for whose sakes all this was suffered, any mercies, any comforts, any privilege, spiritual or temporal, which is good for them. –John Flavel

God never gives his children anything but what’s best for us.  And if he withholds something from us, it’s because it would not be good for us.

When I was a kid, I would have told my mom it would be good for her to give me unlimited candy.  She would not have been a good mom to give me what I desired though.  I would have told her it would be good to let me stay up as late as I wanted and watch whatever I wanted to on TV.  But my Mom didn’t give me everything I wanted, even though I was sure it would be the best thing for me.  My mom had wisdom; I didn’t.  She knew better than I did what would be good for me.  So our heavenly Father knows far better than we what is good for us to have and not have.

And we must always remember our greatest good is knowing and being conformed to Christ.  If our suffering drives us to deeper pursuit of Jesus and we cling more closely to him, that’s wonderful.  If our affliction humbles us and makes us more merciful to others, that is a good thing.

In heaven we’ll look at all God did in our lives that we didn’t understand and it will all make sense to us.  Then we’ll praise God for our momentary light afflictions, for we’ll see the eternal weight of glory they produced.  In heaven we’ll say, “Jesus, thank you for all you did in me through that trial.”

And if we’ll praise God in heaven for all the good he did through our trials, shouldn’t we praise him in those trials now?