Some more thoughts about yesterday’s study – at times the apostle Paul was hungry, and at other times he shivered in the cold because he did not have the right sort of clothes to keep him warm. You may ask – then, how does his experiences align with what Jesus says in Matthew 6:24-34 (NLT) ?
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life – whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Well, here are my thoughts – we are not to worry about our future needs but we will have troubles today – which will be the cause of some worry. Jesus will ensure that we (His followers) have enough to get through today – we, in general, may shiver in the cold but we won’t freeze to death – and, we may go hungry but we won’t starve to death. The one complicating factor is Satan. He may ask God for His permission to test us – to burden us with trials – as a test of our faith. In Luke 22:31, we read (Jesus talking to Peter/Simon): “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”
It’s my feeling that Paul was constantly ‘sifted’ by Satan – in one sense as a test of his faith but perhaps more to frustrate his efforts. What do you think? Likewise, we too – can find ourselves – hungry, cold and lonely; yet we constantly turn to God’s love – seeking His faithful comfort.
Selwyn starts today’s study with these words: “We continue meditating on the thought that some forms of loneliness may remain part of our human condition until we die and go to heaven. Is this watering down the effectiveness of the Holy Spirit or the joy which Christ gives to us? I believe not.”
He concludes with these important statements: “Some hurts are part of the human condition … , but remember this – the presence of Jesus can relieve and support so that the pain is not incapacitating. … God always gives enough grace to carry on.” I totally agree – through all the difficult times I’ve had – Jesus has always provided more than sufficient grace. You can trust God with your eternal life – because He loves you!
Paul’s words, as recorded in his second letter to the Corinthians 12:7-10 (NLT), taken from today’s text set for reading and meditation, are well used by Selwyn in today’s study: ” … I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
We don’t deny our feelings when we suffer the insults, hardships and troubles – it’s okay to hurt – yet, we trust in Jesus’ love – to provide comfort and healing for our suffering hearts. What are your views?