Not long after our first-born daughter died, I remember telling someone, “The deeper the sorrow, the deeper the place that joy can fill.” The comfort of Christ gave this [then] twenty-two year old grieving mother a higher perspective: it caused me to reevaluate my position in this world and my focus here; I could no longer look upon my own gifts and talents as being the measure of my value to God. I began to place less value on things I liked to do and people’s admiration of me, and more value on prayer and ministering to my family and people outside of the religious sector. I found my reward in God’s favor, the “unseen” ministry to the Lord. Essentially, the comfort of Christ introduced me to my purpose.
I’ve mourned deeply since; in dying to the belief that I can do anything right on my own. All of us want to be good—I really believe this—but our inability to be as good as we want to be leads us either to sorrow, or to a hardening of our hearts. To harden our hearts is the popular choice; we can’t be sorrowful all the time, can we?
The world is vehemently opposed to unhappiness, so whatever it takes to feel better is all right “as long as you’re not hurting anyone.” But what does not hurting anyone mean? It’s unbelievable that seventy-percent of young adults today come from broken homes. The “feel good” generation of the 60′s left people confused and empty, without any moral compass. The children of these people have followed in their parents’ footsteps; this definitely qualifies as “hurting someone.” It’s hurt us all. Do we mourn over this?
You may have heard of the illustration of the frog that is thrown into a pot of boiling water; it jumps right out. However, if it’s placed into a pot of tepid water, the temperature can be turned up slowly without the frog ever noticing the change, until it’s cooked to death. The desire for personal happiness has led to a world of people who are afraid to mourn; people who know nothing of the comfort of Christ and His purpose—in other words, “cooked to death.”
“Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and like one from whom men hide their face, he was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
“Surely our grief’s He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.
“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearer’s, so He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His moth.
“But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering” Isaiah 53:1-10
Isaiah wrote these words seven hundred years before the Word exchanged heavenly majesty for earthly form, to show us the Father, and to die for our sins. Gentleness.
Imagine a starving man entering a restaurant, being seated, handed a menu, and when the waiter comes, the man answers, “Nothing for me.” He had the sense to enter a restaurant, but not the sense to order. For those who will admit they’re hungry and thirsty, many want something less than righteousness to fill them. This will never do; the need is too great. Satisfaction is exclusive, and relative to righteousness.
If all you think of is yourself in a given situation, you will demand your “rights.” The mercy of God knows we deserve nothing but the boiling pot, but gives us our freedom anyway, taking the risk with hope that we will choose what is right. This is God’s intention for mercy; making us free to be His.
Those who are pure in heart stand in its strength, eat of its fruit, revel in its joy. Purity of heart means that you see God! When you’ve seen Him, you know that nothing less than what He offers will satisfy, and no matter how tempting the pleasures of this world appear—whether in worldliness or in religion—you see them as the hollow trap they really are. With a pure heart, your life is a sacrament of holiness when no one is watching, and a thoroughfare of God’s love. No fear. How many live this way? How many are willing to? If you’re not willing, ask God to make you willing to be made willing.
Jesus said there is a kind of peace the world gives which should not be confused with the peace He brings. When it’s time to take on that mess in your closet, disorder is the first sign that peace is coming. So it is with a man’s heart. No matter how much we’d like to get along with everyone all the time—and should as far as it is possible to the end of what is good and right—it isn’t possible when changes need to be made for the good. In the Greek, “peacemaker” is a phrase; “peace” you have “to make.” To make the aforesaid closet a peaceful place, a lot of hard work lies ahead. The sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross was to make peace between the Father and us, His fallen creation. This, of course, was no simple thing. Neither is being a peacemaker after His example. It denotes the laying down of our comfort to see order restored in others lives.
Doing what is right will put you on a collision course with the world and its ends. If you preach the true gospel, you will in effect be saying: God wants you to lay down your rights, your dreams, your talents, your desires; all the elements of your life; everything He gave you. When you do, He will crush you like a grape to make you sweet wine for others to drink, and a pleasing aroma in His presence. He will use you any way He chooses, even if it “isn’t your gift.” And, He will spend you until you think you haven’t any more to give, to the end that you will return to Him, be filled with Him, and possess all things in Him—Forever is a long, long time!
© Cami Tapley
—Personal testimony via the Beatitudes, Matthew 5
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