May 11

“We went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.” Psalm 66:12

Paradoxical though it be, only that man is at rest who attains it through conflict. This peace, born of conflict, is not like the deadly hush preceding the tempest, but the serene and pure-aired quiet that follows it.

It is not generally the prosperous one, who has never sorrowed, who is strong and at rest. His quality has never been tried, and he knows not how he can stand even a gentle shock. He is not the safest sailor who never saw a tempest; he will do for fair-weather service, but when the storm is rising, place at the important post the man who has fought out a gale, who has tested the ship, who knows her hulk sound, her rigging strong, and her anchor-flukes able to grasp and hold by the ribs of the world.

When first affliction comes upon us, how everything gives way! Our clinging, tendril hopes are snapped, and our heart lies prostrate like a vine that the storm has torn from its trellis; but when the first shock is past, and we are able to look up, and say, “It is the Lord,” faith lifts the shattered hopes once more, and binds them fast to the feet of God. Thus the end is confidence, safety, and peace. (Streams in the Desert)

Approaching the terminus of an extremely stressful season, I intended to say “I’m beginning to decompress,” but it came out “I’m beginning to decompose.” That may be nearer the truth than I care to admit. Twin hands of demand and limitation grip hard and threaten to pull me apart at the seams. It is as if I’m living out Nigerian author Achebe’s novel, “Things Fall Apart.” My problem is that I am not now nor ever will be a great multitasker, which puts me behind the eight ball much of the time. Obligation and opportunity rarely approach single-file; life rushes at us from all directions.

Thank God the Father stands at the confluence of pain and disillusionment with outstretched arms. Like a Good Samaritan He heals my broken heart and binds my wounds. For my sin I need a Savior; for my damaged spirit I need a Healer. He pours out tender mercy like soothing balm on burning skin. Better still, He applies grace to the hurt I keep hidden from everyone but Him.

“Jesus is sweet upon the tongue, melody to the ear and joy in the heart. But it is also a healing medicine. Is one among us sorrowful? Let Jesus come into his heart, and rise thence to his lips. And behold, at the risen light of Thy Name, every cloud is scattered, and calm returns. Has anyone fallen into sin? More, does anyone run despairing into a noose of death? If he calls upon the Name of Jesus, shall he not breathe again in life?” (St. Bernard of Clairvaux)

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