Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 16 February 2016

 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba,Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14, verses 35-36.

I’m a big fan of the Kendrick Brothers and their movies. “War Room, Courageous, Fireproof” and others:   they’re excellent, openly Christian movies dealing with hard topics in realistic, faithful ways.   One of their earlier movies was called “Facing the Giants” and I believe that today’s verses express the theme of that movie.

“I’ll praise you, Lord, in the good and the bad.”

Now, let’s keep it real: that’s tough.   I mean, it’s probably the toughest thing in the world to do.   It’s easier to forgive your worst enemy on the hardest day of your life than it is to truly, honestly, gratefully praise God when those worst times happen.   And happen they do; we both know this to be true. Just when things couldn’t get any worse…they do.   Just when you think you have had enough…something else happens.   Just when you’re feeling the most overwhelmed…the world really closes in.

Please understand:   I’m not being pessimistic here; really, I’m not.   I’m stating that this is a tough old world, that the natural order of things in this fallen world is chaos.   At the heart of sin are idolatry and chaos. Indeed, I believe chaos stems from idolatry (from putting anything other than God in God’s rightful place), that idolatry creates chaos, and that the logical consequence of sin is chaos. If things seem to be getting worse and worse it is because, in fact, in many ways we might think they actually are because we live in sin.

In those times, praise God.

It’s not that we want, or desire, or crave the bad times.   God help the man who does.   Yet God also help the man who doesn’t give thanks to Him for being in those times.   It’s not a cliché to state that, when you’re down at the bottom, the only direction to go is up. In the middle of the worst trials, God is still present; God is still active.   God allows those hard times to be in our lives so that He might work all the more for our benefit, for His glory. That’s how love works.

Yes, I’ll definitely praise God for that annual bonus, for the new house we want, for the health of my kids and grandkid, for a thousand small blessings every day; more than I can even remember. We want to give praise and thanks to God during those good times because Jesus did first. Yet we also want to praise and thank Him during the bad times as well, maybe even more so.   Why?   Because Jesus did first.  There in Gethsemene, God was active, God was at work.   Jesus inferred it by talking to the Father in active language, intoning that He knew deep inside that the fact of God was at work in each of the unfolding events that Good Friday morning. Jesus didn’t want to undergo the torture of crucifixion, and He asked His Father if there were any other way.   Yet He also praised God at the same time; “not what I will but what You will.”

Even the Kendrick brothers would think the same, especially when facing our own giants. Not what I will, Lord, but what You will.   I’ll praise You either way.

Lord, I praise You today, just where I am.   Thank You.

Read Mark 14, verses 32-41.

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