Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Taste of Hell and God's Sovereign Choice

Joni Eareckson Tada is confined to a wheelchair because of a diving accident when she was a teenager. She said,
"Oh thank you, thank you for this wheelchair! By tasting hell in this life, I've been driven to think seriously about what faces me in the next. This paralysis is my greatest mercy."

How many, in this vapor of a life (James 4:14), have "tasted hell"? Until I read this quote I never thought of my tribulation as "a taste of hell" but I do believe that would be a very accurate description. I have looked evil in the face and stared in the crazed, blood shot eyes of wickedness. I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4) a few times yet still stand firm on the Rock (2 Samuel 22). I won't lie though, I did fear evil. I have been delivered from Pharaoh and hidden from Saul until the appointed time.

"He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.
18He rescued me from my strong enemy,
from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.
19They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the LORD was my support.
20 He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

21"The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
22 For I have kept the ways of the LORD
and have not wickedly departed from my God.
23 For all his rules were before me,
and from his statutes I did not turn aside.
24 I was blameless before him,
and I kept myself from guilt.
25 And the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to my cleanness in his sight.
(2 Samuel 22:17-25. ESV.)

I do not carry the burden of unbelief on my shoulders. I have given the facts as they occurred. Disbelief in the mind or heart of some does not lie with me but with God who is sovereign and orchestrates events. To doubt His servant and witness is to distrust God's sovereign choice.

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen....

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
(Romans 9:1-5, 14-24. ESV.)

The story is not finished. God's glory is still yet to come.

All I Have Is Christ from Sovereign Grace Ministries on Vimeo.

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