Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Remember - God is Guarding You

A few years ago, Kathryn and I, along with our daughter and grandchildren, made a visit to the Louisville Zoo, and while we were there we visited the orangutan exhibit. The only thing separating us from these awesome creatures that possess the strength of at least five men were panes of thick glass, each 20-feet tall. My grandson, Trevor, 2-years-old at the time, was amused at first by the orangutans' antics. Then one of the hairy beasts suddenly began to beat on the glass. Trevor leapt into the arms of his mother, crying, "I scared! I scared!" His mother tenderly took him, placed his little hand on the glass, and showed him that the glass shielded him from the animal, so there was nothing to fear. Afterwards, any time Trevor seemed uncertain, his mom would simply say, "Remember the glass."

The first-century church faced persecution at the hands of a powerful government bent on snuffing out her message, her influence. The fact that some had been beaten, imprisoned, even killed for their faith made them feel as though there was nothing at all that stood between them and the enemies of God's kingdom. Into these trying times the apostle Peter wrote them with a reminder that though it might not seem to be true at times, they were ultimately shielded by the eternal power of God that surpasses the temporary power of any other powers and principalities:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials… (1 Peter 1:3-6; ESV)

Perhaps it was Peter's way of saying, "Remember the glass. Remember the glass."

However, someone might say, "If God is 'guarding' His people, then why do they suffer?"

First, it's obvious that Peter doesn't interpret God's guarding as producing a life without suffering, for he mentions their current trials and grief.

Perhaps some thoughts from Paul David Tripp might help:

"But guarded doesn't mean that God gives me a ticket out of difficulty and pain.  No, this promise of protection addresses a deeper danger than the physical and circumstantial difficulties that we all face in this fallen world.  Guarded doesn't mean that God will protect me from trouble, but rather that God will protect me in the middle of trouble until my troubles are no more.  It means that God is with me, and in grace he gives me all I need to face what I am facing with courage and hope.  To do this, he gives me all the grace I need to fight bitterness, doubt of God, and the temptation to run away from my faith and give way to panic and fear, bombarding myself with questions no human can answer…Guarded means that in my moment of suffering, God provides me with protective grace, and because he does, I can have 'living hope'". (From the book: Forever: Why You Can't Live Without It; by Paul David Tripp)

Remember the glass.

Pastor Van


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