A Wisdom Retreat - November 1

Sorrow Is Fleeting, Salvation Is Forever

Romans 8:18
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Philip Yancey tells the story of the Woodson family in his book, Disappointment with God. The Woodsons had two children, Peggie and Joey, both born with cystic fibrosis. They were thin, no matter how much food they ate, and coughed constantly, breathing laboriously. Twice a day Meg pounded their chests to clear out mucus. The children spent several weeks each year in the local hospital, and both grew up knowing they would probably die before reaching adulthood.

Joey, a bright, happy, all-American boy, died at the age of twelve. Peggie defied the odds by surviving several health crises in high school and even lived to experience her college years. To the Woodsons delight, she seemed to grow stronger as the days passed—days filled with desperate prayers from Meg and her husband, but there was no miracle. Peggie died at the age of twenty-three.

One night, sometime later, Philip Yancey came across a letter Meg had written to him after Peggie's death. Part of that letter read:

I find myself wanting to tell you something of how Peggie died. I don't know why except that I need to talk about it and I have run out of people to tell. I was sitting beside her bed a few days before her death, when suddenly she began screaming. I will never forget those shrill, piercing screams. Nurses raced into the room from every direction and surrounded her with their love. Eventually, their words and touches soothed her, though as time went on and the screaming continued, they could not comfort her. Nurses can only stay on that floor so long—God, who could have helped, looked down on a young woman devoted to Him, quite willing to die for Him to give Him glory, and it seemed He decided to sit on His hands and let her death top the horror charts.

One of the greatest frustrations we face during a trial is knowing that: God could rescue us; He could restore us; He could heal us; He could give us that much-longed-for baby; He could provide that much-needed job—all with one stroke of His omnipotent finger. Yet sometimes, He chooses not to. Why?

Is He, like Mrs. Woodson wrote, "sitting on His divine hands?" Absolutely not!

Paul reminds the suffering believers in Philippians 3:20-21, that "our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself." This is a powerful thought for a Christian who is suffering through any trial, great or small. It is as if Paul is shouting, "Remember believer! This is not the end, but merely the rugged path which leads us to the beginning!"

What a powerful hope we have in Christ. He may not promise freedom from our sorrows here on earth, but His hands are at work. He has promised us that hardships and sorrow are temporary . . . the prize that awaits us is eternal.

Prayer Point: Meditate on the fact that God is in complete control of your life, even though you may not understand what He's doing. Then pray for the willingness to accept whatever trial He brings you, whether or not you ever receive an explanation for it.

Extra Refreshment: Read James 4.

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Christianity / Devotionals / A Wisdom Retreat with Stephen Davey / A Wisdom Retreat - November 1