When It Hurts, God Is

So Anna, over on Insanity Comes Naturally, posted a very heart-felt piece on the rubbishiness of a Christian supposing himself just too useless to live. She pulled on the age-old beginning of the Westminster Confession (we all know it, don't we?): What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever. It seems like a question-and-answer that is as old as time (and it is, really), but it's as true today as it was then. And having to learn this truth, as Anna found out, for one's very own often hurts. It requires being led to the end of your prideful road and whirling in circles trying to chase the shadow that you think is your own worth, and staring down at your own empty clenching hands wondering why you don't possess anything of use...

...and then having your head lifted by the Almighty to look above and beyond to Christ, the author and finisher of our faith in whose image we are daily being shaped. This way we learn that all we think we are isn't, and all we dream to be sleeps in Christ, ready to be revealed on the last day. We despair because we cannot see what we long to see, and we see the wretchedness that we carry about in the body from day to day.

Anna dealt with the rising above this pain, this misplaced sense of humility. I want to deal with the pain that comes from realizing that our place is to glorify God in this life. You and I and all of us, the closer we draw to God's holiness, the more painfully we feel this coarsely-cobbled, tattered garment of our body rubbing wrong against our spirits, the more we feel the pressing darkness of this world. It's like being pressed through a bottle-neck: the closer we come to the thrown-wide glimmering gates of Heaven, the darker seems the night through which we walk. It hurts. The more we grow, the more it hurts.

But what a splendid agony! What marks of faith our scars become! When it hurts, it means that God is working in us. When it hurts, it means we look unto a king and country that we can call our own. When it hurts, it means that all is working from glory to glory within us. When it hurts, it is well with my soul. When sin and death and the dark grate against our spirits, when we feel their presence as an agony to our Godward-reaching souls, then we know we are born of the Spirit.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

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