Friday, March 7, 2008

Lord, You May Make Me Rich or Poor

If God offered to give you any one thing you asked for, what would you choose? A lifetime of youthful vigor? Success in business? A happy marriage?

How about the wisdom to remain constantly in God's will? Few of us are mature enough to think of that first--and yet it is the best thing we could have, though it may not seem so to those who find that God's purpose for their lives is not exactly what they had in mind for themselves. Even outside the "name it and claim it" crowd, it's hard to find someone who is willing to say, "It may be God's will that I struggle all my life to keep this ministry going, and never see it win a convert. It may be God's will that my cancer prove terminal. It may be God's will that I never recoup my losses from this fire." At least, it's hard to find someone who can admit such things with any evident joy. We may be able to accept our fates with resignation to the principle that God knows what He's doing; but to find real, deep joy in the confidence that God has some greater purpose in our pain--and to harbor no resentment when He chooses not to share that purpose with us--that takes real inner strength.

There are, of course, committed saints who are healthy and wealthy and have all of earth's blessings along with God's. The greatest challenge comes when the more "fortunate" Christians interact with the less so. The human tendency is to whine, "I'm as good a Christian as they; why won't You give me what they have?"; or to assume that others would have fewer problems if they had more faith, or that they must have done something to "deserve" their struggles; or to try to console ourselves that the "better off" can't possibly be as "spiritual" as we are. What we should do is follow Christ's advice to Peter in John 21:17-22: commit ourselves in love to His will for us as individuals, and let Him carry out His own purposes for others as well. God knows exactly how each of us can serve Him for maximum effectiveness in His Kingdom--and He alone sees how each piece of the puzzle ultimately fits into the final picture.

Our part is to cooperate as He puts us into place--through whatever process He deems necessary.

Lord, You may make me rich or poor,
Send perfect health or not;
My ventures may "succeed" or "fail,"
With pain or ease my lot;
But one thing I would have You give,
I know is Your desire:
Give me a heart that seeks Your will,
And does as You require.

Lord, show me the good works that You
Prepared to fill my hand,
And light a flame of joy in me
At following Your command.
Help me to seek You all my days,
So when life's race is run,
My ears may hear these words from You:
"Well done, My faithful one."

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