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Saturday, 7 June 2014

What's in the glass?

Most of us, I suspect, are familiar with the comparison between the optimist and the pessimist that involves referring to a glass tumbler as being either half-full (in the case of the optimist), or half-empty (in the case of the pessimist).  Same glass; same amount of liquid; totally different perception.

However, a glass full of liquid may be used to make an additional point.  As we remembered, yesterday, the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, I was reminded of the story (which I believe to be true) of a nurse in a service-men's hospital who complained to a doctor that she had been treated rudely by some of the patients.  "Thank God for that!", he exclaimed.  "What do you mean?" Chaplain inquired the nurse, in astonishment.   "Well," explained the Chaplain, "if you are holding a glass, and someone knocks against you, all that can spill out is what is already inside.  When people misjudge us, and persecute us, we soon reveal what is in our hearts.  If we are Christ-filled, and governed by God the Holy Spirit, we will manifest the gentleness and meekness of our Saviour.  In fact, father God may even allow us to be pushed around, and mistreated, in order that unsaved people may be astonished at His grace, as we overflow with love and forbearance."

Sometimes. we too meet various trials and difficulties, but James, writing under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, tell us to count them "... all joy ..." (1:2).  Knowing that God perfectly directs our lives, we should praise Him, rather than complain.  Seeming difficulties then become opportunities; the testing of our faith produces Godly patience; and, as Godly patience has its full effect, we will "... be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1:3-4).  Paul writes that "... we have blessed those who cursed us.  We have been patient with those who injured us.  We have replied quietly when evil things have been said about us." (I Cor.4:12-13).

It is said of John Bunyan - who knew his share of suffering for the Gospel of Jesus the Christ - that he actually revelled in cruel mockings, and severe trials, because they gave him opportunity to show his love for Jesus, and to display God's grace.

In the church that is persecuted in some fifty countries today - persecuted in ways that we who are privileged to live in places that know a relative freedom of belief, cannot even begin to comprehend - the request that comes to us is not that we pray for release from persecution, but that we pray that these dear brothers and sisters in Christ will bear a good witness to their persecutors!

Are you irritated, grumpy, and full of complaints when the going gets rough?  Or do you welcome these experiences as a challenge, and count them "... all joy ..."?   Of course, if we have Jesus on the inside, we can stand any kind of trouble on the outside, because He has promised, "I will never fail you nor forsake you." (Heb 13:5).

So, what's in your glass, as you read this post?

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