Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mercies in Disguise

I love stealing.

Let me rephrase that...I love stealing certain expressions from other people. I follow the music artist Lecrae on Facebook, and nearly all of his statuses become mine. They are so full of wisdom and insight, and I love stealing those tidbits to share with others.

Laura Story has a great new song out, and I'd love to steal yet again to share some of her lyrics with you. The song is called "Blessings" and I find it so powerful and compelling in light of all that has happened recently in my life and the lives of those around me. You can check out the full song (with lyrics) here.

The whole of the song is basically summed up in a question: What if the hardships of this life are God's mercies in disguise? The chorus reads:

Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

Can you relate?

Earlier in the song is the line Your love is way too much to give us lesser things. This is so profound. I've never thought of trials as the result of Jesus loving me enough to allow nothing less. It is so utterly backward to the American way of thinking.

When we look at Scripture, however, this is precisely the truth. Hebrews 12:5-6 reads, "And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: 'My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.'"

Christ's grace is so great that he doesn't want to short-change us out of the magnificent growth trials bring. It is all a part of the crazy love he gives us day in and day out.

"Well ok," you say, "I get that part, but how can these trials be a result of his mercy?"

From a personal standpoint, I never seem to understand the value of trials until I realize that I am a totally changed person as a result of them. My greatest periods of spiritual growth have resulted from the worst circumstances in my life. I know that if I were left alone to control my own little world as I please, I would be an utter mess. If I got my way all the time, I'd be as far away from Jesus as possible.

I am reminded of Philippians 3:19-21, which says, "Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables himto bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."

If the only thing I'm concerned about is feeding my desires, getting my way, and controlling my life the way I want, I'm doomed. That's an earthly focus. Trials have a way of capturing our focus and training it upon the only person on whom it is due: Christ alone.

The second part of that passage references transformation. When we surrender our agendas and selfish desires and give all our attention to Jesus, we finally come to a place where he can transform us. This is how Christ demonstrates his mercy. Rather than allowing us to wallow in our selfishness and earthly desires, he sends trials to transform us and draw us closer to him.

This leads to another startling realization. Our so-called disappointments may not be disappointments after all. When trials are viewed as instruments of God's mercy, our disappointments become mere extensions of that. Not getting our way might be the biggest blessing we'll ever experience.

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy?
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise?

Trials continually bring us back to the place where we realize that Christ is all we need. Nothing in this world can possibly compare with all that he is.

Don't ever forget to listen for God's voice in the rain...his calm, reassuring, "I love you."

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