Jesus Heals Our Diseases

We live in a world where diseases and infirmities are numerous and ever-present. There seems to be no place we can hide, no refuge from sickness, no perfect heath or well-being. Death and disease are not only in the world, they are in us as well.

All his days [mankind] eats in darkness in much vexation and sickness and anger.

Ecc. 5:17

And yet, they do not go forth unbidden. God Himself is sovereignly in control of every infirmity and causes it to happen. The prophet Habbakuk saw a vision of the Living God who went forth not only in light and glory, but also bringing sickness in His wake:

Before Him went pestilence, and plague followed at his heels.

Hab. 3:5

But all the infirmities of the world are merely a consequence of the foundational sickness that is afflicting the world. That sickness is sin, and it has saturated and permeated our souls beyond measure:

How sick is your heart, declares the Lord GOD.

Eze. 16:30

This degree to which this soul-sickness has spread is beyond the bounds human comprehension:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Jer. 17:9

Humanity has tried every conceivable treatment, but no human efforts can avail us. Even the mightiest and wisest among us is powerless to effect a cure:

When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his wound, then Ephraim went to Assyria, and sent to the great king. But he is not able to cure you or heal your wound.

Hos. 7:5

But God, in His unfathomable mercy and love, sent His Son to dwell among us. His very presence drove away every earthly infirmity from among men:

They brought Him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and He healed them.

Matt. 4:24

And yes, this was merely a foreshadowing of the ultimate cure for our condition—Jesus’ death on the cross. He died so that we might one day be healed and have abundant, everlasting, indestructible life in Heaven with Him:

He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.

Matt 8:17

As our great High Priest, He averted the plague by standing directly in its path:

And he stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped.

Num. 16:48

But unlike Aaron, who was spared, Jesus was slain by the plague He averted. He took the disease into Himself, literally becoming sin, and then suffered the full penalty for it so that it could be eradicated forever. Those who have believed in Him have thus been delivered from this spiritual pandemic:

No evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.

Psa. 91:10

This does not mean we have already attained perfection—earthly diseases and sicknesses continue to afflict us. But there will soon come a day when resurrected believers will be set free from sin, and from every other malady in the process:

And no inhabitant will say, “I am sick”; the people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity.

Isa. 33:24

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for becoming both the sickness of sin as well as its ultimate cure. Help us to turn to You in full assurance of faith that even the diseases of this life are part of Your plan to bless and cure us:

Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.

Hos. 6:1

Thank you for your grace and forgiveness, through which the cure is administered to our souls and through which we are given true, everlasting life. May your Name be blessed forever!

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases.

Psa. 103:2-3

Jesus Is The Staff of God

The staff is a potent symbol in the pages of sacred Scripture, and in it we can see reflections of the Savior.

When Jacob crossed the Jordan, he did so with only his staff in his hand—the symbol of an impoverished wanderer. And though God later blessed him and made him wealthy, and it was this same staff that he leaned on to bless his progeny before his demise.

By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.

Heb. 11:21

Moses likewise was a destitute shepherd with a staff in his hand when he first met with God. After its transformation into a serpent and back again, however, this simple branch of wood became known as the Staff of God:

And Moses took the staff of God in his hand.

Ex. 4:20

This same staff was stretched out to summon plagues upon Egypt. It was held aloft to part the Red Sea; it struck the rock and brought forth water; it was raised up in battle to ensure victory over the Amalekites. Moses was God’s servant, and his staff became a symbol of the unlimited power and divine authority of the Holy One.

Aaron’s staff likewise became a serpent and consumed the staves of the magicians of Egypt. It was stretched out to summon plagues and devastations on God’s recalcitrant enemies. And when there was division among the elders of Israel, it was Aaron’s staff that budded as divine validation of the priesthood:

On the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony, and behold, the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.

Num. 17:8

Surely God’s people, having been given these great and miraculous signs, should respect His authority and lean on His almighty power for support! And yet, we have been rebellious and stiff-necked, choosing instead to rely on human aid and intervention:

Behold, you are trusting now in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him.

Is. 36:6

Not only do we trust in ourselves and lean on our own understanding, but our idolatrous passions cause us to depend on the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world:

My people inquire of a piece of wood, and their walking staff gives them oracles.

Hos. 4:12

Accordingly, all of us have fallen underneath the weight of our sin, and no earthly support can raise us up from such a collapse. Indeed, God Himself has taken away any hope of any such recovery for those whose trust is in themselves:

 The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked.

Is. 14:4

There was, however, another wanderer upon the face of the earth who had no earthly staff on which to lean on. His journey was wearisome and full of sorrow; He was forced to flee from place to place; He had no place to lay his head. And yet, He leaned completely on His God, even to the point of death on a cross:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psa. 23:4

This Jesus was thus provided by God to be our staff. The very reed that was despised and rejected by men has now become the One on whom we lean for support and comfort. He was bruised and broken in our place so that all who trust in Him would be bound up and gently restored:

A bruised reed he will not break.

Is. 42:3

And yet, He is no longer a destitute wanderer, but the supreme King of creation who is seated at God’s right hand. He is the true staff of God, the one in whom all divine power and majesty resides. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him, and it shall be His forever and ever!

Lord, thank you that you are the true Staff of God, the One on whom your people will depend and trust forever. Thank you that through Your brokenness you have bestowed upon us an unbreakable love that will never shatter beneath the weight of even our most grievous sins. To You be dominion and rule and authority forever, and may Your people render to You the obedient love that You deserve!

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

Gen. 49:10

Jesus Makes His Vineyard Fruitful

There is a song in the sacred Scriptures about God’s love for us—a love song concerning his vineyard.

My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it.

This richly furnished vineyard was none other than God’s chosen people, and the fertile hill was the very Promised Land of Caanan.

For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting.

He made meticulous and thorough preparations for His people, supplying them with every good provision and means of fruitfulness. Nevertheless, the harvest of His vineyard was corrupt, wild, and worthless:

And he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes.

His people became toxic, saturated in sin, and deadly:

Their grapes are grapes of poison; their clusters are bitter; their wine is the  poison of serpents and the cruel venom of asps.

A vineyard that grows only wild grapes is no vineyard at all. It is an extravagant waste, a ruinous investment that no one in their right mind would make.

Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit?

For this reason—the clearing out of the wild grapes—God allowed His vineyard to be defiled.

Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard; they have trampled down my portion; they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.

But He did not make a full end. In His infinite wisdom and sovereign might, He decreed that there would one day be an abundant harvest of grapes greater than those of the Valley of Eschol.

In that day, “A pleasant vineyard, sing of it! I, the LORD, am its keeper; every moment I water it.”

And this plan was brought to fruition by sending the heir of the vineyard Himself into our midst.

“I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.”

But when the Son of God arrived, so did the fullness of sin. Rather than offer Him the respect and worship He deserved, we turned against our Maker with all the wickedness and rebellion we could muster. Like King Ahab of old, we imagined we could take God’s vineyard by force.

And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

By this very deed, we declared ourselves worthy of being killed and thrown out ourselves—gathered up by the angels and thrown into the winepress of the wrath of God. And yet, this very act of treason was used by God to heal the wayward wildness of our hearts. Jesus’ blood—symbolized by wine—transforms barren sinners into a people producing the fruits of the kingdom of God that will multiply without end:

In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots and fill the whole world with fruit.

Where there was once only ruin, Jesus is creating an everlastingly abundant harvest. And though He has full right and claim to partake of it all now, He has chosen to delay the fullness of His joy until it can be shared with all of His people at the marriage feast of the Lamb:

Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

Lord, thank You for preserving and redeeming your vineyard! Only You can take wild grapes and change them into an abundant harvest of righteousness and glory. May our lives be poured out as a drink offering as we delight in the fullness of Your love, the new covenant in Your blood!

For your love is better than wine.

Jesus is The Lawgiver

There are many kinds of laws in our world. Wisely authored political laws bring order and civility by restraining the expression of criminal behavior. Scientific and mathematical laws enlighten us to a deeper understanding of the natural world and thus are invaluable tools for the betterment of humankind.

But there is another kind of law in our world, one that both undergirds and surpasses all others. It is the Law of God, and it is given by divine fiat to all under heaven. It both commands and instructs, exposing the evil in our hearts and teaching us about the nature of reality.

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.

Psa. 19:7

God’s Law is superior to all others. When it was first given to the nation of Israel, it set them apart from their contemporaries:

And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?

Duet. 4:8

While the Jewish people were uniquely blessed to receive this Law in written form, its essence is written on the hearts of all people. And despite its many mysteries, its message is as clear as it is concise:

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Mic. 6:8

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Gal. 5:14

This Law is supremely good, and Jesus the Law-Giver should get all the praise for ordaining such glorious statutes. But because of sin, we love the darkness rather than the light. Rather than receive His righteous rules, we prefer to make our own statutes—every man doing what is right in his own eyes. This leads to disaster:

‘Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

Duet. 27:26

When we rail against the Law of God, we rebel against God himself.

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”

Psa. 2:2

But all such plotting is hopelessly vain. Those who resist God’s Law will one day face the wrath of Christ Himself:

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury.

Psa. 2:4

The only way to avoid such a terrible fate is to be faultlessly keep the Law. For the blameless, the Law provides salvation and unending blessing:

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Jos. 1:8

But alas! No one on earth today can claim such a state. All of us are contaminated by the scourge of sin, and thus are unable to achieve perfect righteousness. Instead, by default we serve a different law:

With my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Rom. 7:25

Christ the Law-giver, knowing that we serve the law of sin, could have come into this world to condemn it once and for all. Instead, He chose to save it by taking the full punishment due for the sins of his people. He not only suffered in Himself the very curses He authored in the Law, he became them:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.

Gal. 3:13

How is it that the One who authored every last curse in the Bible did so knowing full well that He would bear them all upon Himself? Why would He who knew no sin be judged and condemned by His own Law? Only He who was slain “from the foundation of the world” could fully understand how such a thing could be possible, but we know that He did it out of love:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved!

Eph. 2:4

Thank You, Jesus, for this incomparable and incomprehensible love. There is no Law more holy and perfect than Yours, and there is no love deeper or more self-sacrificial than Your own. You fulfilled the Law not for your own justification, but for ours, and you suffered the full penalty of its curses for our salvation. Jesus, thank you! Help us to love others as you have loved us, for truly those who have learned to love have fulfilled the law. As it is written,

Love is the fulfilling of the law.

Rom. 13:10

Jesus Is Real Food

Food is a peculiar blessing. It is necessary to sustain life, but unlike other necessities (water, air, clothing), it is also a delight in and of itself. The layers of taste, smell, and texture are not just tangible, but by God’s own design are sensual and delightful.

But for all its benefits, food in and of itself is incapable of meeting our deepest needs. It has no spiritual power or efficacy:

Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.

And like all other earthly blessings, food can become a snare if over-indulged in. Just as when Belshazzar drank from the vessels of the LORD’s house or Herod (whose heart was merry in feasting) uttered a rash vow, it is easy for us to leave the path of wisdom when our god is our stomach. And when we do, there is no escaping the consequences:

Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.

But it is also possible to sin in the absence of food, especially when our divinely appointed provisions do not match our fickle appetites. As the Israelites learned in their wanderings, food that is delightful one day can be abhorrent the next. This is why God called His people to look for a deeper satisfaction in His own life-giving words:

Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

God wants us to look beyond our temporal cravings, which will never be fully satisfied, and to seek food that yields better pleasures:

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

Jesus Himself knew the secret of obtaining this heavenly banquet while still on earth. He who was able to miraculously feed the crowds also told His wondering disciples:

I have food to eat that you do not know about.

This food was to do the will of His father in heaven, and it kept Him spiritually filled even during his forty days of temptation and fasting. And just as He told the crowds who followed Him, He likewise calls us to labor for a new kind of food:

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.

What is this food? It is manna—the true manna that surpasses that which Moses gave. The people ate bread in Moses’ day and were sustained, but only for a time. All who ate of the first heavenly bread eventually died. But Jesus said:

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.

Unlike the first bread, which was free, this new bread from heaven came at a great cost—that of Jesus’ own life. Only after His crucifixion and resurrection did his disciples understand this hard saying:

The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh… For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.

There is no better feast in heaven or on earth. When we remember the Lord’s sacrifice in communion, we feast on the living bread that vitalizes our souls in unseen and eternal ways. And we are to lead others to this feast:

He said to them, “You give them something to eat.”

Lord, thank You for feeding us with Yourself. Just as You were placed in a manger upon your birth, so You continue to feed Your lambs with a never-ending supply of living bread. Help us to seek this better food always, and to lead others to You.

For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.

Lord, You know all things; You know we love You!

Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

Jesus is True Wine

Wine is a symbol of God’s blessing, a rich drink that represents the best of all that which earth has to offer. Well did Isaac bless his son with these words:

“May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine.”

Wine was regularly presented to God in tithes and ritual offerings, and even the Lady Wisdom offers mixed wine back to her guests. Jesus’ first miracle was turning water (which sustains life) into wine which gladdened the heart.

But like everything in this fallen world, wine can be abused. Noah, Lot, and many other righteous men have been led as lambs to debauchery when wine overcame them. This is why Scripture is replete with warnings about the dangers of loving wine more than God:

“Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine!”

“He who loves wine and oil will not be rich.”

For those who reject these common-sense warnings, earthly sorrow and suffering are the inevitable result:

“Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder.”

But this earthly affliction is nothing when compared to the eternal danger of the penalty of sin that weighs upon our souls. God’s wrath is described as a cup of bitter wine that must be drunk by all the wicked:

“For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.”

Just as it is written of those who have the mark of the beast upon their foreheads, so will it be done to all whose sin remains uncovered:

“He also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger.”

If it were not for Jesus, this would be the universal human fate. But when Jesus took our place on the cross, he was given bitter wine, mixed with gall. This wine represented the cup of God’s wrath, and even though he would have refused it, divine judgment filled him to the full and He met his end. As it is written:

“God will send His burning anger against him and rain it upon him into his belly.”

But because of the Christ’s self-sacrifice and resurrection, Christians need no longer fear the cup of God’s wrath. Indeed, for those who love God, there another cup that is reserved for us, one that Jesus first gave to His disciples and still offers us today:

“My blood is true drink.”

The cup of communion that we partake of is a special vintage reserved for us, and is far than even the wine of Cana. And it is offered free of charge to all who would accept Him as Lord:

“Come to me, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”

Just as the hill of Cavalry flowed with his blood, so now the Scripture stands fulfilled as heaven rejoices in His presence:

“The mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it.”

Lord, thank you for drinking the cup of wrath that was rightfully ours, and giving us the richest of all wines in its place! Thank you for your blood, which is the source of our greatest blessings and the proof of your boundless love for us. No earthly blessings can compare with the joy that You give. As it is written,

“Your love is better than wine.”

Jesus is Our Treasure

To those who know where to look, our world is full of rare and valuable things. There are treasures to be found, riches to uncover, and valuables to be acquired. Countless wars have been waged and kingdoms laid waste in the pursuit of worldly wealth:

They have devoured human lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst.

But such efforts are pointless. The great King Solomon amassed gold and silver beyond count, “the treasure of kings and provinces.” Anything he desired was immediately given into his possession, and no man on earth could claim more riches than he. But in the end, his riches failed him by amounting to nothing:

And behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

And for those who do not know Christ, the situation is even worse. They who are rich in this world but not rich toward God have been assured of fierce, fiery judgement in the last days:

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.

Even our most valuable worldly possessions will become a source of torment to us if we trust in them rather than in God:

Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire.

With every passing day, all of us are amassing a kind of moral wealth within ourselves. We are either stockpiling deeds of love and mercy,  or else storing up wrath for ourselves on the day when God’s judgment will be revealed. Our hearts are a treasure trove that ultimately proves what kind of people we are:

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

On that day, none of us will have anything material that we can claim as our own. No amount of money or goods will serve to divert the righteous judgement of Him who owns all things. There will be no barter to be had, and no bribe will stick to His almighty hands.

But those who are in Christ have laid hold of riches that are everlasting, unspoiled, and untouchable by the wrath of God:

The fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.

These spiritual riches, though housed in unworthy “jars of clay” like us, are immutable because they are bestowed by God Himself. They are a gift of grace that cannot be returned once they are given:

Peace to you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you.

And we may lay hold of this treasure by simply reading and believing the Word of God. We are told to diligently “treasure up” its contents, and in doing so to become increasingly rich:

Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.

Those who are wise know that in this life, moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. Everything we touch will one day melt away before our eyes. But that which we cannot touch is eternal, and worth more than all of our worldly goods put together:

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

So if you are poor in the things of this world, do not desire to increase in your possessions, lest you fall into a snare or pierce yourself with many pangs. Rather, seek the things of God, and you will discover an even greater wealth than you thought possible.

Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.

Seek the Kingdom and His righteousness, and even if worldly riches are not added to you in this life, you will have lasting treasure that will be yours throughout eternity.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Jesus Satisfies Us

The human condition is one plagued by perpetual dissatisfaction. From the moment of our birth we cry out to be filled, and we never stop until the day we die. Well did Job say,

Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.

Even when our needs are fully provided for—food, clothing, shelter—we are not content. We quickly become dissatisfied with what we have and crave something different.

Now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.

Food is given to nourish our bodies, but it becomes a snare to our souls when we look for it to provide what it cannot:

When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food.

Worldly wealth yields no lasting contentment—we perpetually desire to tear down our barns and build bigger ones. But Scripture warns us of the futility of such hope:

Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.

Moth and rust destroy our treasures and thieves break in and steal, testifying that there is nothing on earth that fully satisfy the desires of the human soul. As it is said,

What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.

But thanks be to God, there is a heavenly provision that surpasses what earth can offer. Jesus is the living water that eternally defeats our thirst:

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved.

Jesus offers spiritual food without money and without price:

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

He serves a better wine than that of Cana, a heavenly draught that slakes our appetites, gladdens our souls, and gives us abundant life.

Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.

And when we die, those who have trusted in Him will hear the proclamation that all our needs have been abolished and everlasting satisfaction has been granted to us just as it has to Him:

Enter into the joy of your master.

Lord, thank you for reminding us that no earthly blessing can ever satisfy our hearts or fill our stomachs. You are the One who created our needs, and You are the One who fulfills them. Help us in our discontent to remember that our desires are fully and forever met in You and You alone!

Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Jesus Gives And Jesus Takes Away

On April 6th, 2015, a daughter was given to us. She was very sick and could not survive, and so on May 21st of that same year we entrusted her soul into the hands of the God who made her.

Her short life was a precious gift, one that radiated the grace of God into our hearts. Only God can give gifts of that magnitude, and it is our joy to receive them:

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.”

But because of our self-centered nature, we sometimes lose sight of His goodness and purpose in it all. It is easy to love God when His gifts abound:

“Many seek the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.”

And when our blessings are taken away, we (human beings) instinctively curse God for our fiery trials:

“They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.”

Naomi’s death was a plague of sorts, a calamity that God could have averted. But he chose not to. And it is for that exact reason that we must worship Him and give Him glory.

Even if we were to rage against God, all our efforts would come to nothing. No one can resist His will:

“Also henceforth I am he; there is none who can deliver from my hand; I work, and who can turn it back?”

If that were the path we had chosen, we would indeed have no choice left but to “curse God and die.” But we have instead submitted our hearts and quieted our souls before Him. We say with Job:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

We also remember that the Lord Jesus surrendered everything—unlike Job, His life was taken from Him. Even at the point of death, Christ worshiped. And because of His sufferings, the blessings of heaven are ours by faith:

“Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.”

Lord, we worship You for what has been given, what has been withheld, and what has been taken away by Your almighty providence. You are good, and do good to Your people. May Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

Jesus Is Powerful

In His wisdom and mercy, God has apportioned to each of us a measure of strength; as many as our days, so shall our strength be. But what of Him who is everlasting, whose days know no end?

He is the only one whose power is without limit:

“In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.”

He created and sustains all things by His almighty command:

“He upholds the universe by the word of his power.”

And despite our vaulted notions to the contrary, no one can resist His power or His decrees:

“For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?”

Even when nations conspire against Him, they can do nothing but invite their own destruction.

“Behold, the Lord has one who is mighty and strong; like a storm of hail, a destroying tempest, like a storm of mighty, overflowing waters, he casts down to the earth with his hand.”

Like Job, we must despair of ever besting Him:

“If it is a contest of strength, behold, he is mighty!”

And yet, Jesus’ greatest display of power was when He hung dying on the cross. In His weakness we see a greater power than any other:

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

The twelve legions of angels He could have summoned would have been feeble and useless; He who withered the fig tree and turned the Nile into blood could have instantly taken the life from those who desired His. But instead He forgave, and in that forgiveness is the saving power of God displayed:

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

And in that last day when Jesus destroys His enemies by the sword of His mouth, all His people will sing in eternal praise of His boundless love and power:

“The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.”

Thank you, Jesus for saving us by your mighty hand and redeeming us by the unstoppable force of Your word. Give us the power to resist sin more earnestly, to see You more clearly, and to love you more passionately, for all strength comes from You!

“He is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!”