Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Rock Of Ages Cleft For Me"1 (Lyrics)

I can't forget our disappointing dialogue. Two of us were lamenting over societal woes, when suddenly, he walked away, exclaiming, "This is too depressing!"

That's not how I wished the conversation to proceed! He never got to hear the hope welling up in me, which I was about to express.

I can see why he stomped off. It's too depressing to think about bad stuff without knowing the good stuff! Of course, we can't truly face sin and evil unless we also face God's glorious hope! Without being grounded in God's covenant purposes for humanity, we can't handle the unspeakable tragedy of sin and divine judgment. Nor can we face personal sinfulness, like the apostle Paul did in saying, "O wretched man that I am!" (Romans 7:24 KJV) Nor will we cry out to God with such agonizing complaints as the psalmists did — even while they trusted Him to come through with deliverance and forgiveness. We see their resilient hope expressed in this self-talk:

Psalm 42:11 – Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God. (NIV)

Our situation may not be nearly as distressing as it was for this psalmist. Still, sin and evil do play havoc, and affect us more deeply than we realize. I'm convinced that in our complaints, we don't get disturbed enough. We don't get distressed enough over sin and its horrendous effects. That's because we can't see it as fully as God does! We're mainly mindful of our own disappointments. Furthermore, we are quick to apply soothing ointments. We are quick to console ourselves with light chat, relaxing music, food … or conviction-free forms of faith. You know what I'm saying: We can become content with our own remedial solutions, telling ourselves, "It's better than nothing!" My friend, that's useless self-talk!

Today, I encourage us to keep on striving for a richer, biblical perspective on this paradoxical connection between the bad and the good. Scripture portrays sin and evil with vividly dark colours. That's the backdrop for God's glimmering solution: deliverance and forgiveness through Christ's life, His "amazing grace … that saved a wretch like me".

Now, back to that gentleman mentioned earlier. Interestingly, he was well-churched. Every Sunday, he had heard glad expressions of God's grace! Yet, for him, as for countless others, it had never penetrated. He hadn't yet faced both the gladness of the "good stuff" and the badness of the "bad stuff". Oh, such a sadness!

Surely, to some extent this sad condition afflicts each of us. Thus, we can sincerely pray something like the following from a vintage prayer by Philip Doddridge (1709-1751):

Prayer: "O injured, neglected, provoked Benefactor: When I think but for a moment of all Your greatness and goodness, I am astonished at the indifference in my heart. … Let Your grace teach me the lesson I am slow to learn. … Hear these broken cries, for the sake of Your Son." Amen.

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About the author:

Diane Eaton <d.eaton@bmts.com>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks for the good reminder, Diane.


    Beautiful Diane! So much need to engage in whole truth.


    Thank you. Your mastery of the English language is uplifting to read.


    Diane, thank you for this encouraging reminder which I needed today.


    Thank you, Diane for sharing this encouraging devotional with us. Blessings.


    Well-said, Diane! Especially that great prayer that should never be forgotten. Wonderful title too! Helps me. Love to you today on the journey.


    Diane, this pulls me up sharply to recognize the casual manner in which I often treat the life-giving relationship with Jesus. Thank you for sending me to my knees to seek forgiveness.


    You can deal with “the bad stuff” if you remember all the blessings God has bestowed on you and your loved ones. This strengthens your faith and gives you Hope needed to deal with “the bad stuff”.


    Hello Diane,
    Many thanks for another of your very mindful devotionals. Great advice and good reading in that “vintage” prayer. Blessings for these writings you submit.


    Diane! Spot on as usual! Thank you for that! I am now more aware of the difficulty others, whose faith is not securely placed in Christ, have with the vagaries of life, especially these pandemic times, and how much they need to see and hear the good news! Bless you! I shall meditate on that a while.


    How touching!
    All around the world, there are horrendous things happening; in my own life I have a challenge greater than anything I’ve ever faced before, but that prayer has turned the situation around – I’ll get through!
    Bless you Diane,
    (BC)


    Good morning Diane,
    You are always challenging me to be a better Christian. You don’t want me to take the easy way out with my faith and belief. It is good to have someone pointing out another way of looking at a situation.
    I have been trying to show my granddaughter that discussions are not arguments and because someone has a different point of view it is a chance to learn more or help them to see that there are different ways of looking at situations. I was much older before I realized this and stopped judging people so quickly. Wisdom does come with age, but it can use a little help along the way maybe.
    Thank you for always being willing to share your knowledge and your different perspective. Many blessings.


    Diane,
    Thank you for sharing these lessons. I need to hear them over and over again.

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