Wonderful compassion of the Creator! He permits us to be in need, that He may show His mercy by giving to the needy.He permits us to be tempted, that by aiding us in our temptations He may turn the hearts of His servants more fully to Himself. He permits His followers to be cruelly tortured that they may delight more fully in restored health.
- The Monk Jonas, Life of St. Columban (Italian, 7th century)
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
- 1 Peter 4.12
Spiritual disciplines are of two kinds: Active disciplines are those we take up readily, as the Lord prescribes - prayer, meditation and reading of Scripture, singing, fasting. Passive disciplines are those the Lord brings our way because He knows we need them in order to grow closer to Him. Nothing strange about that.
These are the disciplines which the writer of Hebrews has in mind when he says that discipline is not pleasant (Heb. 12.11). The doxology from Jonas, quoted above, comes near the end of a particularly long season of travail on the part of Columbanus and his companions, during which they were threatened with violence, accosted by demons, and subjected to long seasons without food. In each case, though, the Lord provided just when it seemed He could not, and, as a result, their faith was strengthened and they were able to persevere in serving Him.
We all need some passive discipline in our lives. It is in God's sovereign hand to administer this as He sees fit. When we find ourselves in such a season, we must not grumble or be afraid. Rather, let us rejoice and give thanks, turning our faces toward the Lord Jesus and the hope of glory we have in Him. If we persevere with glad and grateful hearts, we'll gain the benefit of the Lord's passive discipline sooner rather than later.
And let's make sure that our active disciplines are in place and in good order, because we'll need prayer and meditation to help us through the trials and travails the Lord is pleased to allow.
Today in ReVision: Money Changing Hands - How did we come to have such a shallow foreign policy?
This Week's Download: Impact and Understanding of the Bible: A Questionnaire - Get it and use it to improve your witness for Christ.
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