Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 17 January 2015

 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. Mark 3, verse 27.

Jesus doesn’t promise everything will be rosy.   Permit me a minor whine.   I’ve had a very productive and good week this week, but it’s been tough.   In the space of 3 hours one day, while on travel out of state, my eyeglasses broke (and I need them to see), my computer’s hard drive died (and I lost all my applications, emails, and data), and my house sold (which is what we want but it’s scary). All this added up to an enormous mountain of stress, and I became testy and irritable.   Mind you, the eyeglasses can be replaced (I did so yesterday), the hard drive was replaced (and since I had been using the computer for only a week, the data loss, while inconvenient, was minimal), and selling the house is a blessing (both for the new owner and for us to take positive steps in getting a new property soon).

The point is that Jesus doesn’t promise that life will be Easy Street, or that things will go perfectly once we allow Him into our lives. In fact, He promises just the opposite…or had you forgotten the verses where He tells people that, to follow Him, we must deny ourselves and take up our own crosses? What Jesus promises is that He will abide with us, that His strength can be our strength and that, because of this, we can prevail over anything.

Yet don’t forget this: Jesus also insinuates that even the strong can be brought down, especially by evil.   Verse 27 says so. The creeper can enter the strong man’s house; crime can occur; terrible things can occur in our lives.   The creeper can subjugate the strong man; we all have our weak points; we all have our vulnerabilities.   The creeper can, then, have his way in the strong man’s house.   The strong man can be brought down; the high can be brought low; pain and death happen.   Jesus Himself affirms that this is the case. He’s telling us “if you live in the world, you will have a world of hurt.”

For this, the only real thing we can do is rely on His strength.   Just a few verses before, Jesus reassured us that He is who He says He is:   divine and all-love God. And he assures us that, in the world, worldly things happen; a house divided against itself cannot stand.   The world, when plagued by worldly problems, will come to worldly ends.   God Immanuel does not give us strength every day, but He does give us the way to be strong, to gain strength and use it to be strong. The more I live in this world the more I see that the foundation of all real strength always is and always must first be rooted in living in strength through the Savior.   Only by allowing Him to live in us, mentor and lead us, can we face down our constant troubles and overcome the petty evils that threaten to overcome us.

The problems I described above are really nothing more than first-world problems; small stuff that can get us down but never fully take us down.

Lord, be my only strength.

Read Mark 3, verses 23-30.

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