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Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Purpose for the Pain?

One word
Frees us of all the weight and pain of life:
That word is love.
- SOPHOCLES, Oedipus at Colonus

We’ve all seen it, but we may not have liked it or wanted to accept it. I know I didn’t. It says, “God has a purpose for your pain,” or something like that. 

To my way of thinking, the inference is that God planned for you to be in pain in order to accomplish His purpose. I didn’t like that inference.

That is not to say that pain is a bad thing, necessarily.  It feels bad, but it does have a purpose. 
The old mill served its purpose at one time.

Usually, it’s to let you know something is wrong. Take, for example, the case of the horrific pain of a gall bladder attack, like the one my husband had recently. If you don’t do something about it soon, you are going to be in serious trouble. 

Whether it is physical, emotional, or spiritual, pain lets us know that we are alive. It may also mean something has to go. Like the gall bladder. 

But, what if the pain is associated with something we have loved and guarded, like a relationship or a dream we have had? Maybe it’s something we had hoped to do with our life that may now seem impossible. Then, we tend to hold on in spite of the pain. 

We may eventually come to realize that letting go is the only humane choice. Either it dies or we do. 

We have tried everything to keep it alive, but it is time to put it out of its misery. So, we pull the plug at last, knowing deep down inside, only a miracle can save it; only God can breathe life into it. If He doesn’t, it’s for the best. There is no pain in death.

Only then do we begin to understand the real purpose. It was to extricate us from the thing we held on to so tightly He had to pry our grip loose. We thought we would die without it. We didn’t.

He was merciful to allow us to keep it for as long as we did. We needed something to hold on to and He let us hold it. The pain was to let us know we could not keep it any longer.  We were the only thing keeping it alive. Then, like a mother does with an unborn babe, we carried it to its time. The pain came and we delivered. What we carried now lives a different life. The pain served its purpose and is gone.

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28 HCSB).
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18 NAS).  This is my comfort in my affliction, for your word has revived me (Psalm 119:50 New Heart English Bible).

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever (Revelation 21:4 NLT).

Excerpt from While it Is Called Today 
a 30-day photo-devotional
by Dee Marvin Emeigh

Sunday, March 4, 2018

In the Details

God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, 
and in the flowers and clouds and stars.  — Martin Luther

An innovative architect of the early twentieth century, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is quoted as saying “God dwells in the details.” Much speculation has gone into what he meant, but one modern architect put it this way: “Working out details requires great application – something akin to religious fervor… always worth remembering…when things are getting a little complicated.” 

It does us good to get a different perspective sometimes, especially when things get complicated. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy taking detailed photographs of flowers. We tend to look at them as bright spots in a field of brown or green bringing us a bit of joy, or blankets of beauty on the flowerbeds, but seeing them close up is a very different experience. 

The stamen of a crocus blossom.

For me, isolating the veins in the petals, the pollen on the stamen; the very elements of their existence, fills me with awe for the Creator whose attention to detail makes my perfectionist tendencies look like gross recklessness. 

Just as each detail of the flower’s anatomy (and ours) has a purpose, so each detail of our lives has a purpose as well. Yet, seeing it that way often requires a different perspective, if not a different lens. 

Nevertheless, the God who made the entire universe and attended to every detail of life therein, already knows all the details of our lives and their purpose. He has also already provided a solution to every problem.

There are conditions, of course. Call them details. For example, before the seed even goes into the ground, it must dry out. Once it’s planted, it must have the right elements in the right proportions to produce the green shoot, the flower, and the fruit of the harvest. None of this happens overnight. There is no Jack and the Beanstalk experience when it comes to discovering our purpose. 

It requires following the detailed instructions of the Creator who made us, who orders our steps to accomplish His purpose for our lives. It requires trusting that He is the one working in us, speaking into our spirits, bringing all of the elements together according to His plan. Indeed, it requires believing that He dwells in the details.

The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives (Psalm 37:23, New Living Translation).

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life (Ephesians 2:10, Berean Study Bible)

For the universe owes its origin to Him, was created by Him, and has its aim and purpose in Him (Romans 11:36, Weymouth New Testament)

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1, New Heart English Bible)  

Excerpted from While it Is Called Today
a 30-day photo-devotional
By Dee Marvin Emeigh

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