Devotional article for The Greybull Standard
and The Republican Rustler
For so many Christians the faith turns out to be a great disappointment. Life turns out to be neither nearly as successful, or nearly as joyful as one would expect that it would be, when one is embraced by the love of God.
Closely related to this disappointment is the notion that somehow God owes me better. He owes it to me that my life should be successful and joyful, since I have been so good as to embrace His love.
It might be from what bad preachers and teachers have told us that we have learned to expect a joyful and successful life . Even if they did not exactly tell us that life would always be free from sufferings and sorrows, they may have left us with the impression that life would at least almost be that, at least most of the time; or at least the sufferings and sorrows that would come upon us would not hurt quite so much – if only we would have faith.
Or it might just be from our sinful nature that we have this notion that somehow we deserve better; that somehow it is good of us that we have condescended to embrace the love of God rather than to choose eternal death and Hell instead, so that God owes us.
The truth is, of course, that God owes us nothing whatsoever; nothing other than death and damnation, for that is what we have earned with Him with our evil and ungodliness. And it is His tremendous mercy that anything other than death and damnation is available to us, only on account of His goodness, that He sent His Son to suffer and die for the ungodliness and evil that our sin really is.
And God never promised us an easy life in this world. What He promises, and what His Son has won for us with His sufferings and death, is eternal life with Him when His Kingdom shall come in glory.
And what He promises in the meantime is that He will keep us and preserve us for His Kingdom. And He will do so through trials and tribulations and troubles. He will have us do away from this world of suffering and sorrow and sin. He will take all that away from us which keeps us from believing Him and loving Him, all that which we believe and love instead of believing in Him and loving Him. And that is a good thing. Through all this He will show us how there is nothing in this world we can really believe in, since all things in this world will fail us, and will be taken away from us, and His love is all we can really rely on.
And as this happens, and as all things else are taken away from us, He still has His Church assure us of His love, and through the testimony of His Church He assures us at heart, by His Holy Spirit, that His love is upon us all the same, and that the glory that awaits us in His Kingdom is so far greater than anything we ever had in this world, and anything that was taken away from us.
Through all this we learn to trust in God. We learn to look forward to the coming of His Kingdom, rather than expect a glorious future in this world of suffering and sorrow. We are confronted with our own sinfulness, as we see how poorly we react to the sufferings and sorrows of this life. And we are reminded of how great His mercy is, that His love is upon us in spite of our sins and shortcomings – even the shortcomings of our faith. And we see that what He has done for us is indeed greater than all. And the glory is all His.
Pastor Jais H. Tinglund
Grace Lutheran Church, Greybull/Zion Lutheran Church, Emblem