August 6, 2017

The Troubles of a Temporary Home

 

For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pains together until now

(Romans 8:22).

 

When bad days come, we need to pay attention to the reminder that we're being given. Good days are reminders, too, of course; they remind us that God created the world. But bad days should remind us that the world as it now is, tragically broken by our own sinfulness, is a dangerous place to settle down.

If our hearts are set on God, we are on our way to a place that can truly be called home. A "rest" awaits us, if we're among the "people of God" (Hebrews 4:9). But we haven't yet reached our rest, and until we do, we are sojourners temporary residents in a country not our own, strangers in a strange land.

But we tend to forget, don't we? We forget that we're aliens, and we fall into the habit of thinking like people who have permanent citizenship right where we are, in the here and now.

Because that's a dangerous tendency, God sees to it that the fields of our thinking get plowed up from time to time. In the lives of some, it may be a "thorn in the flesh." For others, it may the tragic loss of something they thought they couldn't bear to lose. It may be the unending difficulty of some unpleasantness that won't go away. It may be temptation. It may be failure. It may be sickness or the specter of death. But God loves God's faithful people too much to let them forget the home God has prepared for them.

What do we do with these reminders, as painful as they often are? At the very least, we should be grateful for them. But also, we should bear them with humility, dignity, and courage. And above all, we should not fail to let them have their intended effect on us. If God is reminding us, we should let ourselves be reminded and not waste the care that God is bestowing upon us.

Moses spoke powerfully when he recalled Israel's hardships: "[God] humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord" (Deuteronomy 8:3). Some things we dare not forget, and from time to time, these things God will "make us know."

 

Happy is the trouble that loosens our grip of earth.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon