Discussion/Devotional thought of the day:
There are days when it seems the trials and traumas never end. For a pastor, perhaps we see this more often than others, but I don’t think so. There are so many things out there to cause anxiety, from health issues to financial struggles, to friends and family in trauma, to marriages and relationships that struggle and need supernatural help to survive and heal.
As I related yesterday, I’ve had a few myself – from dieing to surgeries, and to being there for people in the midst of so many issues. I have found that in the midst of adversity, in the midst of trauma, there is both a sense of peace, and strength that is there that isn’t mine, but it is available to me. It is one of the reasons I am writing a book about churches in trauma – to remind them of what is already there… for them..
In this mornings devotion, I came across two notes that reveal it a little, once you think them through:
475 You realize you are weak. And so, indeed, you are. In spite of all that—rather, because of it—God has sought you. He always uses inadequate instruments so that the work may be seen to be his. From you he asks only docility.
476 When you really give yourself to God, no difficulty will be able to shake your optimism. (Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 1165-1168). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.)
I’ve been accused of being too optimistic once or twice, and while I would adjust St Josemaria’s statement a little – I agree with it. My adjustment would be to say “When you abandon yourself to God” rather than give. Give makes it sound like you can, like a child “take back” that which you have given. (and so often we do!) But to come to the realization that there is no other option, no other hope, then you do let God be God, the Master who promises to and designs your life as a piece of artwork. (see Eph. 2:10 – the word for workmanship there is the word we get poetry from!)
I am not talking about conversion here – at least not in the evangelical sense. For there, conversion has little to do with us, God simply reveals Himself and His love, through those who come to us with His word. Wesley may have called this a “second infilling of grace”, Robert Schuller calls this positive thinking (knowing that we are God’s brings about incredible strength in times of need – that’s the hallmark of most of his writing) , the prophet/leader Joshua would ask it this way “choose you this day whom you serve”. The apostle Paul talks about being confident that “all things work for good for those that love God.” Luther would talk about such as a First Commandment issue – don’t have other God’s – but call upon Him in prayer and praise. When you abandon yourself into God’s hands, and are confident that is the thing to do- you simply know and trust in Him.
What is mistaken for optimism – is simply a matter of confidence in God. Trusting Him, having faith in Him, knowing Him.
That is where the other point of St. Josemaria comes into play. When we realize we are weak – when we realize we have no real option but to abandon ourselves to God, then we begin to realize that God has plans, He has designs on our life, and those designs bring us to places we would have never imagined, to work with people we would never anticipate, and see them respond to the work of God in our lives. Not because we can do great things – but in the midst of the storms, in the midst of what should promote incredible anxiety, in the middle of it all… we know God is with us.
Having mercy, pouring out His love and comfort, assuring us of our place with Him……there is our strength, and knowing that, we can be incredibly bold – in being His people.
So know He is God, and you are His chosen people. And let Him do His thing… being God – He’s significantly better at being God than you are!