Saturday, April 16, 2005

For this I bless you as the ruin falls, the pains you give me are more precious than all other gains.

"For this I bless you as the ruin falls,

the pains you give me are more precious than all other gains."



These are the final two lines from the poem, "As the Ruin Falls" by C. S. Lewis. You can find the whole poem in the March Archives.

I was recently struck by the truth of these lines in the lives of Peter and Paul. I'm sure that their lives were created by God as an example for us of what the "normal Christian life" truly is. If you have been a Christian for any time at all you can feel the pain that each went through.

Peter was so sure of himself. He could walk on water. He would stand by His Lord no matter what.

Paul was a Hebrew of Hebrews. He had lived his life perfectly as required by the Law as it was understood in his day.

Aren't we all much the same. We become Christians and we are encouraged to be like Christ. And we are confident that we will.

But the ruin of our self confidence must fall.

Peter's fell through the pain of his betrayal of the One he loved most.

Paul's fell through the pain of his sudden awareness that he had been persecuting the very Messiah he had lived to serve.

And we are all the same. We must go through the pain of self awareness. The awareness that we are totally dependent on the Lord's timing in all things. There is no other way. The Bible is a book of the pain of failure.

But that pain is "more precious than all other gains" because through it we come to know the depths of His love and to depend solely on Him as our life.

And the pain is often beyond our capacity to suffer. Judas killed himself from the pain of realizing that the one he had betrayed was indeed the Messiah. I'm sure Peter suffered the same pain as he had betrayed His Lord in much the same way.

And what of Paul? One cannot imagine the pain he must have felt from the shame of realizing that he had been murdering those for whom his Messiah had given His life.

But that pain is "more precious than all other gains" because pain is God's instrument to lead us from the ultimate frustration of self confidence to the peace that comes from knowing Him, as Paul, himself, said so well.

Philippians 3:7-11

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.


I hope this post has been an encouragement to you who are in the midst of pain. It was inspired by my suffering the most painful experience I could ever imagine. It was also inspired by the comforting words which I received shortly thereafter from my daughter who sent me these quotes from Larry Crabb's, "The Pressure's Off." Was it a coincidence that these words immediately followed my suffering? I think not.

"Paul spoke openly about his pain, not in complaint, but as a reminder that the abundant life of following Jesus means abundant opportunities to draw near to Him in hard times, not an abundance of pleasant circumstances and good feelings."

"God is in control. Of what? Of seeing to it that nothing thwarts His plan for His people. What is that plan? To give us a Better Life now, as we define it? No. It's to reveal Himself as the greatest treasure the human heart could ever imagine, to draw people into a relationship with Him that utterly delights their souls."

"Brokenness is the path to freedom. When we see in ourselves things we wish were not there and realize we can do absolutely nothing to clean up the dirt we find, we enter into the liberating experience of brokenness."

"You'll know this reflection is doing its work when you begin to feel the painful liberation of brokenness, not over the hurts in your life that you cannot relieve, but over the pride in your life that you cannot eliminate." emphasis added.

I praise you, Lord, for my precious pains.



2 Comments:

At 12:47 AM, Blogger ltate said...

Bill wrote: "...this post...was inspired by my suffering the most painful experience I could ever imagine."
I don't know what to say, Bill, except that I'm thinking of you and knowing that God will meet your needs.

 
At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, I've always identified with Peter. I too go off "half-cocked" and follow my emotions. He jumped out of the boat and begain walkin on water...until he realized where he was and what he'd done. Then, like all of us need to do, he called on Jesus to save him.

Some have referred to the "...on this rock ..." passage as being Peter. The upshot of this viewpoint is that to call Peter a rock, at that time, was as laughable as calling me a rock upon which to build great works. What it testifies to though, is the lige-changing work of Jesus Christ in our lives and this is llustrated in the subsequent life of Peter.

Charles

 

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