Saturday, February 6, 2016

Fibular Hemimelia and GRACE

After school yesterday, Emily talked of her friend who was so worried about her math test that she cried in class.  “Mom,” she said, “The teachers always tell her that she overthinks things.  Not me! I just go with the flow, whatever floats my boat.”
Sometimes I think that if I could trade places with anyone, it would be this fiery nine-year-old whose attitude, no, whose God given design brings me such JOY.  If you know me, then you know that I’m one of those over-thinkers.  Maybe it’s why I’m pretty good at teaching literature, but over analysis sometimes comes at a cost.

Yesterday, I was reading about the life of Martin Luther –if you know much history, you’ll remember that he started the Protestant Reformation.  He nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenbergh in protest of such practices as buying indulgences that guaranteed forgiveness of sins and ultimate salvation.  He also authored hymns, among them “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” 

What you may not know is that Luther was an over-thinker, someone who agonized with fear and anxiety related to salvation and eternal life.  He had obsessive thoughts of never being “good enough” for God and, as a result, going to Hell.  These obsessions plagued Luther throughout his life –and he struggled with fear that is hard to be put into words.  Today, he would have been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder –not what many laugh off as a need to be overly organized, but as a disorder that plagues the mind with doubt.  YET, Luther claimed that the only relief, the only remedy from his anxiousness, came from God whispering ONE WORD, ONE TRUTH: GRACE. 
God brought this realization to me yesterday, whispered this truth, His spirit communed with mine: had Luther not suffered, had his life not been characterized by anxiety and struggle, had he not sought truth, not sought God for help, then the entire Protestant Reformation may never have happened.  God, in His Infinite Wisdom, ordained his suffering to bring about a revival of TRUTH, the salvation of many souls. 

Ethan has a “bucket” list on the cork board in his room –among the items on his list: ride a bull, read a chapter book in a day, win a car race.  I noticed an added sheet to his list the other day –and one bulleted statement stopped me for a moment, brought tears to my eyes: no more surgeries. 
Sometimes as parents, as friends, as sisters or aunts or cousins of those who struggle, we wonder why.  We wonder what God is doing –why has my eleven- year- old had six surgeries with more to come? Why does my uncle have Alzheimer’s? Why is one of my former students facing cervical cancer? Why is my friend in a joyless marriage?

And there’s only one answer: GRACE.

God’s grace, if we remember, brought Christ to the cross where He suffered, the Bible says, as none as suffered before or since –and this suffering, this brutal seeming unfairness inflicted on one who had no sin, purchased our redemption.

2 Corinthians 4:17 states: “ For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” 
Did you know that your suffering –your God ordained trials and troubles, will one day result in an eternal reward? That one day, you will lay your crown of suffering at the feet of Christ –at the feet of the one who knows suffering –who prayed for the “cup” of suffering He was about to endure to be passed from Him –yet accepted God’s will and took our place.

If I asked, you would say that you believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God: TRUTH.  Yet, HE plainly tells us that we will suffer. 1 Peter 5:10 states: “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”  He tells us, plainly, that our suffering will PERFECT, ESTABLISH, STRENGTHEN, and SETTLE us.  I want to be perfected, established, strengthened, and settled –and it will happen through suffering.  And, I want this for my son, my uncle, my former student, and my friend.

What if, through your suffering, like Luther’s, God will bring many souls to salvation? What if HIS plan really is BEST? What if HIS WORDS are TRUTH? What if we just TRUST HIM? What if we simply seek refuge In God, our MIGHTY FORTRESS and give HIM glory through our pain?