|April 2, 2007
The Holy One of Blessing
by Jon Walker
«For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.» (Romans 11:36 NIV)
Worship — Last night I read the book, «Night,» by Elie Wiesel. The narrative was so compelling that I could not put it down. Wiesel described the unholy madness he faced during World War II as a prisoner in the German killing-camp Auschwitz and then as one of the few survivors of a death march to the concentration camp at Buchenwald.
Wiesel, an orthodox Jew, lost his faith in God and in humanity as, day by day, he fought to survive in a catastrophic pit of hell where, as one prisoner told him, «… There are no fathers, no brothers, no friends. Everyone lives and dies for himself alone.»
When he was finally liberated by Allied Forces in 1945, Wiesel was just 16. He’d witnessed the slow death of his father; his mother and sister were presumably dead; and he felt as if everything had come to an end: «… Man, history, literature, religion, God. There was nothing left. And yet we begin again with night» (a reference to the Jewish tradition that a new day starts as night falls).
Throughout the narrative, Wiesel records bits and pieces of traditional Jewish prayers as they’re recited by himself and other prisoners, and he honestly records his anger at God for appearing to ignore those who cried out for the Almighty’s protection.
In my life, I’ve never faced the kind of earthly hell Wiesel faced, yet I’ve found myself angry at God for appearing to ignore my cries for help. I’ve abandoned my faith for much lesser things.
I cannot say how strong my faith would be if I was faced with an evil so mind-wrenching. Just trying to write this devotional, I could not find adjectives strong enough to convey the horror at Auschwitz and Buchenwald, and yet, in my life, I struggle to maintain my faith when I simply don’t get my way.
But then, it’s not about me, and it’s not about you. We serve a God of Blessings, even though we may not see the blessings in our hand. We may not even see the blessings in God’s hand, but as my sweet Southern aunt always says, «When you can’t see God’s hand, trust in his character.»
It would seem the stuff of faith is facing the fire, and like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we say, «If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.» (Daniel 3:17-18 NIV)
In other words, we may not be rescued by God, but we will continue to worship him, and, just to be clear, no matter what happens, we will not worship your gods. We will not worship inferior gods made from gold, stone, and wood. We will not worship inferior gods made from the brick and mortar of self-centeredness, from self-will, from our demands for an easy, understandable life and an easy, «only if I can see it» faith. (Hebrews 11:1)
We worship God when we leave it up to him to interpret our circumstances. We worship God when we take the facts that we can see and offer them to the God-who-sees-all. We worship God when we allow him to define our lives and our purpose.
We worship God when we allow our heartache and our horrible circumstances to crowd us closer to the One who grieves with us because he loves us more than any other.
· Give your circumstances to God – God sees the big picture, so he is the best one to interpret your circumstances. He is in control of all things, even when it may not appear that way.
· Look for the blessing – When faced with heartache, ask God to show you the blessing, the dark treasures, hidden within. (Isaiah 45:3)
· Instead of asking, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ ask God, «What do you want me to do in this situation?»
· Pray: «Oh Holy One of Blessing, Your presence fills creation. Thank you for this day and for the simple blessings I so often overlook. You go before and behind, and I trust you to turn these circumstances into something that brings glory to you.»
© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.