As I was reading my morning devotional after a very long time, I was sort of disheartened by the opening verse.
Lo, a horror of great darkness fell upon him. – Genesis 15:12
But the devotion written by F. B. Myer strengthened me spiritually and made me steadfast in my wavering faith, and here I am, sharing… hoping at least one more Christian will be strengthened by our Lord this morning. All praise, honour and glory to our Lord God and to His Son and our Redeemer Jesus Christ. Amen.
The sun at last went down, and the swift, eastern night cast its heavy veil over the scene. Worn out with the mental conflict, the watchings, and the exertions of the day, Abraham fell into a deep sleep, and in that sleep is soul was oppressed with a dense and dreadful darkness, such as almost stifled him, and lay like a nightmare upon his heart.
Do you understand something of the horror of that darkness? When some terrible sorrow which seems so hard to reconcile with perfect love, crushes down upon the soul, wringing from it all its peaceful rest in the pitifulness of God, and launching it on a sea unlit by a ray of hope; when unkindness, and cruelty maltreat the trusting heart, till it begins to doubt whether there be a God overhead who can see and still permit– these know something of the “horror of great darkness.”
It is thus that human life is made up; brightness and gloom; shadow and sun; long tracks of cloud, succeeded by brilliant glints of light, and amid all Divine justice is working out its own schemes, affecting others equally with the individual soul which seems the subject of special discipline.
O ye who are filled with the horror of great darkness because of God’s dealings with mankind, learn to trust that infallible wisdom, which is co-assessor with immutable justice; and know that He who passed through the horror of the darkness of Calvary, with the cry of forsakenness, is ready to bear you company through the valley of the shadow of death till you see the sun shining upon its further side. Let us, by our Forerunner, send forward our anchor, Hope, within the veil that parts us from the unseen; where it will grapple in ground and will not yield, but hold until the day dawns, and we follow it into the haven guaranteed to us by God’s immutable counsel. — F. B. Meyer
Last year at this time, August 9th. 2016, 11:30 pm, I was in the hospital, after undergoing a totally unnecessary biopsy, wearing a medical gown; as I was already suffering from severe pain, three sets of doctors left three different instructions on what position I should sleep that night, and was constantly interrupted by one or the other nurse, to change my sleeping position according to which doctor had left the instructions to that particular nurse; so, when I entered August 10th, 2016, my birthday, I was sleep deprived, wearing a medical gown and in severe pain.
So, this year, I did not have any plans for my birthday. Even yesterday, when I was praying for my birthday, I was grateful that this year, I would not be wearing a medical gown, suffering from sleep deprivation and intense pain. I just thanked the Lord for this, and in prayer, asked Him to bless me according to His will, and whatever He does, I will accept it with a grateful heart.
Imagine my surprise then when this morning (August 9th, 2017), as I was getting ready for our morning family prayer, my cousin brother called me to ask if I would join him for a small trip to Pondicherry, a nearby town by the East Coast of India. When I asked him what the occasion was, he told me that his family just wanted to go out and he would be happy if my wife and I could join them for the trip.
So, we went in the morning and I just came back. It was exhausting, but in a good way. We went to the beach, had some delicious food and did some shopping. More importantly I could spend a lot of time with my nieces. Though I became very tired in the evening, the Lord strengthened me soon.
I am too exhausted now. All I want is to sleep. But then my heart is filled with so much gratitude, I don’t know how to thank our Father in Heaven. One thing though. When I was young, I was taught that if you leave anything to the will of God, you will end up suffering a lot – remember the prayer of Jesus at Gethsemane and what happened to Him within 24 hours – is what I was taught. Though over the years I understood the folly of that notion, “according to Your will” had been always associated with severe afflictions and tribulations. But, the death at Calvary is not the end. It is the path leading to the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ; yes, the will of the Lord is not always to make us suffer, but once we have suffered with Jesus, to make us partakers in His revealed glory.
With a grateful heart, I praise our Father and as I am about to begin a new year, Father, may Your will be done in my life; bless me according to Your Word that You have given Your servant. Through Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.
You shall be a blessing. – Genesis 12:2
You shall be a blessing. But it is not “what you can do to others”, but “what you become yourself.” May the Lord of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, change our lives so that we all become a blessing unto others. May the blessings of Abraham rest upon us, through the Saviour Who became a curse for us.
During my stay at ICU, I used to wake up at early in the mornings, because of how I slept during my sickness. So, one morning, I was wide awake at 3 AM and was praying, when something happened.
The patient next to me was handcuffed to his bed as he was creating lots of trouble for the nurses and was threatening to run away from the ICU. As the MD intern who was in charge of ICU was doing her rounds, this patient complained about this and she asked the nurses to un-cuff his hands. The nurses objected, but the intern was not bothered. It was 3 AM and the patient would be too tired to try anything, she said. But once his hands were released, it took less than 5 minutes for that patient to jump out from his bed and to start a commotion. He started running between the ICU beds, bothering all the patients who were sleeping. The nurses were trying to contain him, but the intern who gave the order to release the patient ran out, saying that she was going to call the security. I was watching her and she ran out of the ICU, but she did not call out the security; instead she was watching the whole thing, hiding behind the doors. Apparently she was scared what that patient would do.
Later I found that she did not call the security, because then there would have been an enquiry and she might have been implicated for her role in releasing the patient. So, she just stood there, waiting for the nurses to get the situation under control. Soon, they managed to do that and he was handcuffed again.
Then this intern called her friend, who was also in charge of ICU that night. I had written about his physical features in a previous blog. He looked as if a direct descendant of Goliath; his booming voice matched his imposing physical presence. When he came in, he was furious that his friend was threated by a patient. So, as soon as he came, from the top of his lungs, he shouted at that patient – yes, at 3:15 AM in an ICU, where other patients were sleeping or trying to go back to sleep. He challenged that patient to try the same with him, and he asked the nurses to remove the handcuffs. Once again, the nurses protested, but in vain. The patient was quite and did not say anything – till this intern went back to his sitting area. Immediately the patient jumped out of his bed and started a ruckus that was noisier than before. He started throwing the medical carts and their contents everywhere and threated the nurses with physical harm if they come closer to him.
I wanted to see what the intern would do. For his physical stature, the patient did look like what the Israelite spies told on their return from their sojourn in the Promised Land – like a tiny locust. Moreover, this intern did really have a booming voice. When he shouts, whether you understand what it is about or not, you stay stunned for a moment. So it would have been easier thing for the intern to subdue this patient. So, I thought.
The intern walked swiftly – farther away from the patient and took the desk that was closest to the door and the farthest away from all the beds. He sat behind that desk and from there, he was telling the nurses how they were flanking the patient in the wrong way and how he would jump here to escape from their clutches. And so did the patient. Even in that weak state, I understood that the patient was actually listening to what the intern was telling he would be doing and just following his words. It was hilarious. Suddenly one of the nurses realized that, and she snapped at the intern: “Sir, if you are not helping us, it is okay. At least, do not help him.” So, the Goliath intern remained silent and the nurses apprehended the patient one more time. This time, not only they handcuffed him, they also sedated him. Only after he was sedated, the intern moved away from his safe haven.
It was then I realized that power, authority, physical prowess and everything else does not matter when you do not have courage in your heart. Both the times, it was the fault of the interns, and both times, they tried to escape; not once they tried to take the responsibility of their actions. Not only that, none of them took any steps to help those nurses who were affected directly because of the actions of these interns.
Then I remembered my first reading of the Gospels. I was 10 when I started reading the Gospels. By then, I was reading all kinds of books and magazines on mythology and was in awe of all the gods who were sending fiery darts and watery balls. So, imagine how bored I was when I started the Gospel according to St. Matthew. By the time I came to the end of the Gospel, I was shocked to see that my God was actually being beaten by soldiers and mocked. It made no sense to me. For me, it was an antithesis to what I thought of as courage. And when the priests and the scribes were taunting our Lord and Saviour when He was on the Cross, I was sure He would get out of the Cross, bring down fire on them and do those heroic, courageous things I had read in the mythologies. But, I was left disappointed. Then as I started reading the other three Gospels, I did not know that they were the same accounts of our Lord’s life, so in each Gospel, I was expecting a thunderous ending, with death to all the enemies. But even after the Resurrection, our Lord spent time encouraging His disciples, rather than rooting out His enemies. I was one very disappointed kid after reading the Gospel accounts.
But now I know differently. It is easy to retaliate. That does not necessarily mean courage. Even snakes retaliate, and all the snake lovers have been trying their best to convince me that the repulsive reptiles are attacking me only because they are afraid of me, so I don’t have to actually worry about. While my scientific mind may accept this explanation, my practical mind asks, “But does the snake know that – that it is actually afraid of me?”
True courage is in being still when things go out of our hands. True courage lies in taking responsibility. It needs lots of courage to stay calm when your natural inclination is to defend yourself. And, as I read Isaiah, chapter 53, suddenly I realize the courage of our Lord.
What the Lord suffered was not for His actions. It is for my sin. It is for my trespasses. It is for my iniquity. Yet, He took responsibility as my Kinsman. As my Brother, He took the responsibility for my actions and, yet, He never blamed me for any of those humiliations, sufferings and eventually, the gruesome death He had suffered on the Cross.
I also have heard of righteous anger. When you have not done anything wrong and if you are accused or punished, you are angry and you are justified, they say. And here was Jesus. Being humiliated and insulted. They spat on His face and slapped Him hard. His body was torn by the lashes and was bruised entirely. Yet, He never uttered a word. It takes lots of courage to suffer in silence. It takes lots of courage not to utter a single word in defence when you are innocent. And suddenly that disappointed kid has become very proud of his Hero.
Yes, Jesus Christ is my Hero. And I am very proud of Him. And in His silence and quietness, I see true courage. And I wish that I follow the footsteps of my Hero and to show my courage in the silent suffering that God our Father has allowed me in my life. Amen.
But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. – Romans 5:20
As I look at Calvary, as I look at the Cross on which my Saviour Jesus Christ was hanging crucified, my first reaction is to turn my face away in abhorrence. Just like how repulsive the Israelites felt when they had to look at the bronze serpent, raised on the stake.
But the more I look at the suffering Servant, the Son of Man who knew grief, I realize what caused all these. My sins. My disobedience. My rebellious nature. My lustful heart. I must be the one who was punished like that. I must be the afflicted one. Then it dawns me, yes, it is true, that I must be the one… but it serves only one purpose. It serves only the Divine Justice. For I richly deserve that punishment. It would have told the world that the Lord our God is righteous.
The more I meditate on the sufferings and death of my Redeemer, suddenly the Holy Spirit whispers in me… it is not just for the “sins” I have committed… but for the “sin” that indwells in me. Jesus Christ did not just carry my “sins”, He became “sin” for me (2 Corinthians 5:21) on the Cross. Sin abounded; the Cross became an emblem of sin – the most repugnant sight on the world.. Yet, the One Who was suffering there was not guilty. Not guilty of anything. Innocence personified. Oh, the Cross is not only about Lord our God is righteous, but it also tells me that He is gracious.
In the obedience of Jesus Christ, the grace of God abounds much more. Much more than I can comprehend. All I can do is humbly bow my head before God our Loving Father, and Jesus Christ, His Son and my Saviour for the grace that abounded. Amen.
And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last. – Luke 23:46
This is the seventh and the last of the utterances of our Saviour Jesus Christ from the Cross and it is the Word of Rest.
Just like God created the world and its order and finished everything on the Sixth day, Jesus said “It is finished!” as His sixth utterance from the Cross. And God rested on the Seventh day. And the seventh utterance of Jesus is a Word of rest.
Before “It is finished!”, the cry of the Lord is, “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?” After it is finished, it is “Father”. Yes, dear friend, Jesus Christ has fulfilled the Law and has paid the price in full. Before it was “our God”; before we felt as if He has forsaken us. Not anymore, because God, Who is the Father of Jesus Christ, is also our Father in heaven.
Before “It is finished!”, Jesus felt as if the hands of Father had let Him down. But, once it is done, it is into those same hands, Jesus commits His spirit. We can rest knowing that the eternal God is our Refuge and underneath are His everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27).
Before “It is finished!”, Jesus asked His Father, “Why have You forsaken Me?”. But now, He says, “I commit My spirit.” Dear friend, commit your life to our Father now. Commit your future to Him. Commit your everything to Him. As Paul said, we know Whom we have believed. Believe in our Father Who gave His only Son for us. May that faith bring rest unto our life. Amen.
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” – Matthew 27:46
The fourth utterance from our LORD Jesus Christ. I had uttered these very words so many times in my life. As I was struggling with depression, I had to battle loneliness so many times. There would be so many people around me, laughing with me, but the wounds in my heart would tear me apart and this would be the silent cry from the heart, and at times, there were some feral screams too.
So, when I started to meditate on the Passion of our Lord, it bothered me. I was a sinner. I am imperfect. My heart rebels against God. So, I can understand if the LORD forsakes me. But why would Jesus Christ, the only Son of God utter these words in anguish?
Because God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. – 2 Corinthians 5:21.
Oh, now it makes sense. Jesus cried out because it was supposed to be me. It was I who was supposed to be forsaken. Instead, Jesus was made to be sin for us, that the Most Holy God, Who does not look at sin, had to forsake Jesus.
The love of God our Father Who was ready to hide His face from His only Son. The love of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and the Son of God, Who was ready to be forsaken for us. Is there any way to understand such a love? Especially when I think about the sin that has lived in me. For me. And because Jesus took my place and was forsaken, I know that promise the Lord gave me, when He brought me with a mighty hand into His fold, will never fail: I will never leave you nor forsake you.
You showed them that You are a forgiving God, but You punished them for their wrongs. – Psalm 99:8 (NCV)
The LORD God is merciful and gracious; and in His grace, He forgives my sins. But my soul, never forget that He is also a righteous and just God. Therefore, He has to punish me for my wrongs.
So, my soul, as you rejoice that your sins are forgiven, do not forget that the punishment for your sins have fallen on Your Saviour Jesus Christ. Never forget to look at the Cross at the Calvary. Never forget how much it cost God, the Creator of Universe, to forgive your sins.
It cost Him His only beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Never ever forget that, my soul, never forget that.
Jesus Christ. My Lord, my Master, my Saviour, my Redeemer. I love You, Lord. I love You.
In what do you seek your glory?
Prayer: Do you seek glory in how much you pray every day? Are you proud that you spend more time in prayers than others?
Faith: Is your glory based on your faith? How strong you are no matter how difficult the circumstances become? How you can praise the LORD even in the midst of all the hardships?
Sufferings: Is your glory based on your suffering? On how much you have suffered for Christ, compared to others? That no one you know have suffered as much as you have?
Blessings: Do you glorify in the blessings that you have received from the LORD? Is this something that you are proud of? How your prayers are answered immediately?
These are the few common things, IMHO, that the Christians boast often. But, these are the few things that I have seen Christians murmur against the LORD too.
When their prayers are not answered quickly, they are upset with the LORD.
When their faith does not bring victory to them, they quickly question their faith or God in Who they trust.
When their sufferings are beyond what they can bear, they start to question the righteousness of the LORD.
When some blessings are denied, they are very upset with the LORD.
But, there is something that I boast upon. Something that would never ever disappoint me. That would never make me upset with the LORD. That would always bring joy to my mind.
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Galatians 6:14 (NIV)
In the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. I look at Calvary and see what the LORD has done for me in the cross.
I know my prayers are heard by God our Father, because Jesus Christ, His Son and my Savior, was torn into two, so that I can draw near to the Throne of Grace fearlessly and with confident.
I know that the LORD is pleased with my faith, because my faith is not based on my self-confidence or my self-will. It is based on the One who died for me on the cross, Jesus Christ, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.
Oh, there is nothing, nothing that can be compared to the suffering of Christ on the cross. So, when I think I am suffering, I look at the cross. I look at the sufferings that He endured for me. There is nothing to boast from my side.
And, all my blessings, all my success, everything that could be considered a blessing in my life came to me, only because Jesus Christ Himself became a curse for me on the cross, so that I receive the blessings of Abraham. (Galatians 3:13-14)
Now, I look again. There is nothing in me that I can boast. Prayer, faith, sufferings, blessings… everything came to me only through the cross of Christ. So, there is only one thing that I boast in. There is only one thing that I glory in.
The Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
What about you?
Matthew 28:18-20“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.””
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