“Yet those that be against us, so far are they from thwarting us at all, that even without their will they become to our causes of crowns, and procurers of countless blessings, in that God’s wisdom turns their plots unto our salvation and glory. See how really no one is against us!
– John Chrysostom (349-407)
Such is the power of the gospel in the dross of life that even in loss, there is victory, where we live as if, in that defeat, it was a victory. For only in defeat, when things are not going according to plan, do we get the compelling opportunity to show how different our lives are, living joyously for hope despite the loss, for the sake of Christ! This is why there is more to celebrate in despair than in hope, for in despair, our attitude should rise on the wings of hope. The more we’re thwarted, the more God is with us through a joy that overcomes that thwarting through patient perseverance. But responding in this gospel way is so counterintuitive that it’s hard to even when we know it’s God’s will that we respond that way.
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Yet, we only need to respond this way once, and we experience its power.
We only need to respond in this counterintuitive way once to experience Christ’s gospel power. So likewise, we only need to cry out to God in our distress once, for one night, and finally, we experience the truth of God’s promise, a joy indwelling relief that comes after an exhaustingly despairing lament, simply because we’ve knelt before God’s honor in pleasing Him. God’s Presence in and through us, having pleased Him in surrendering to His will, becomes its own compelling evidence. Such strength in comparative weakness to obey, not to be overcome by our own screaming desires!
This is why this gospel way works: faith goes ahead of reason, knowing that God is faithful, and, in doing what is right, faith alone is revealed as blessed – despite how we feel when things are so wrong. The more things appear to be against us, whilst we know God is for us, the more our hope shines despite myriad despairs and difficulties. Nothing is truly against us in the totality of all spiritual realms when God is for us.
Trust in His Spirit, rely on His strength, obey His Word, and all will go well, especially when there are many hardships. Nothing else works like it in all of God’s creation: the greater our despair, the deeper is the gospel’s reach through grace into our lives. The more we’re touched by grief and loss, the more we’re reached by grace and love. © 2016 S.J. Wickham.