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Dark Valleys

Dark Valleys

Excerpts from Chapter 3 of Deserted by God? by Sinclair Ferguson.

Read Psalm 23.

If the Father loves me so much that he did no spare his own Son but delivered him up to be crucified for me, no further guarantee is needed of his wholehearted and permanent commitment to me and my blessing.

Whatever happens to me must be seen in that light. Yes, my deepest fear may become realties. I may not be able to understand what God is doing in or to my life; he may seem to be hiding his face from me; my heart may be broken. But can I not trust the One who demonstrated his love for me? When I was helpless in my sin he sent Christ to die for me (Romans 5:8). If he has done that, will he not work all things together for my good? Will he withhold any thing that is ultimately for the good of those who trust him?

In this way, Christ’s death becomes the rod, the cudgel that breaks the neck of the fears that are the enemies of my peace; his word becomes the staff by which he holds on to me and rescues me from danger.

I can be confident of this: Whatever he sends me will bring me what I need; whatever I need, he will provide; whatever he provides comes marked with the approval of nail-pierced hands. I can trust him.

If the Lord is my shepherd, he will restore me when I fall.

If the Lord is my shepherd, he will surprise me with his grace.

Our natural instinct is to suspect that if he restores us at all it will be grudgingly; it must be a necessary by irritating inconvenience for him.

But Christ does not come to us officiously; he comes to us willingly and graciously to restore us. …The Lord restores us because he means to change us.

Whatever trials the Lord brings us into, he means to show us his presence and glory in a way we could not otherwise learn.

If the Lord is my shepherd, he will be with me now and forever.

How Long?

How Long?

Excerpts from Chapter 2 of Deserted by God? by Sinclair Ferguson.

Read Psalm 13.

There are sinister elements about discouragement. It is all-pervasive, affecting everything in our lives. Yet at the same time it is a vague generalized feeling that seems to discourage us from probing its roots too deeply lest we find the experience too painful.

Forgetfulness may be accidental: an oversight perhaps. But hiding is not; it is a deliberate act of avoidance. The God to whom David looked as the one of whose life and being he was the mirror image seemed to have turned away from him.

…When God hides his face, we do not know where he is looking or what he is planning.

This was David’s problem: he had lost all sense of what God was doing. He could not see the smile on his face or catch a glimpse of its determined purpose of grace. …Worse even than this, David could not see light at the end of the tunnel. He did not know if there was an end to the tunnel.

Our most painful experiences are like that: sorrows, burdens, disappointments that we will have to carry throughout the rest of our lives. They are irreversible.

Lesser griefs convey a taste of this too: thwarted ambitions; the loss of a job; a broken romance; a difficult situation that cannot be resolved. Each day, sorrow fills our hearts and casts its shadows over everything we do. Will it be like this forever?

In the very act of lamenting that God has deserted him, he is at the beginning of a spiritual breakthrough… For one thing, he is actually talking, face-to-face, to the God whom he accuses of forgetting him and hiding from him! …what David is doing is asking God to give the blessings he has promised; he is urging him to be faithful to his own word, to do what he has said.

What had David been in danger of forgetting?

1. The Lord’s unfailing love brings David to “trust,” confide, and rest in him.

2. The Lord’s salvation makes David’s heart “rejoice.” However great his difficulties are, he possesses something greater than them; however long they last, salvation will outlast them.

3. The Lord’s goodness makes him “sing.” …God’s people struggle to believe that he is good, in the face of what seems to be so much counter-evidence. …he now sees that in all things he works for the good of those who love him…

Flaming Ideas

Flaming Ideas

I miss teaching. Getting up on school days with nowhere to go has been very hard over the past few months. But more than that, I miss what I was teaching – the Biblical, Reformed view of Scripture, Doctrine, and History to teenagers who especially need this, as many of them prepare for college and all of them prepare for life. In a world where there are people who actually think they can change the DNA of their bodies by either imagining it or by surgery, we need people who can address that issue, and others, without compromising their Christian beliefs, but who can also show the compassion and love of Jesus Christ in the process. That’s what I miss.

I’ve been reading through Francis Schaeffer’s True Spirituality again, after having read it first about thirty years ago. It still holds up, as does most of what Schaeffer wrote. In addressing how salvation affects our lives, our thinking, and our thought lives, Schaeffer has this to say:

The preaching of the gospel is ideas, flaming ideas brought to men, as God has revealed them to us in Scripture. It is not a content-less experience internally received, but it is content-full ideas internally acted upon that makes the difference. So when we state our doctrines, they must be ideas, and not just phrases. We cannot use doctrines as though they were pieces to a puzzle. True doctrine is an idea revealed by God in the Bible and an idea that fits properly into the external world as it is, and as God made it, and to man as he is, as God made him, and can be fed back through man’s body into his thought-world and there acted upon. The battle for people is centrally in the world of thought.

This is what I was trying to accomplish in my teaching. This was why I got up every day. It was a great privilege and joy to be able to do this, however imperfectly, for seventeen years. This is why it’s so encouraging to read Francis Schaeffer and others like him – they’ve been through the battles, too, and they held firm.

We’ve got flaming ideas from God to share with people for His glory and their help! It’s just a shame that others, who should know better, don’t always see this or hold steady.