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Monday, April 16, 2018

Blessed Be the Name of the Lord

A friend of mine is undergoing some serious surgery this week. I'd like to encourage him. I'd like to tell him, "Look, lots of people have been through this and come out okay." I'd like to assure him that the doctors are skilled and medical advancements are many and it will certainly be just fine. But that's just logic. That's surface thinking. I want more for him.

You remember the story of Jesus walking on the water, right? Well, one thing that is often forgotten is that Jesus wasn't the only one. When Jesus walked out to them in the storm, Peter said, "If it's You, call me out there." And Jesus did, and Peter did. So why is it that Peter is so easily forgotten? Because "when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me.'" (Matt 14:30) Peter got his eyes off of Jesus and on the very real problems and started to sink. But Scripture says, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee." (Isa 26:3) I would want to encourage my friend not to dwell on the very real problems, but to keep his mind on Christ.

But there's more. I would like to point out to him that God said, "I will ... bind up the broken and strengthen the sick." (Ezek 34:16) I would like to remind him that "the very hairs of your head are all numbered" (Matt 10:30), that God knows and cares. I echo Abraham: "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?" (Gen 18:25) I want to assure him that God always does what is right and nothing can happen that is outside of His Sovereign power.

Perhaps there's a miraculous outcome. Perhaps God heals him without needing the surgery. Perhaps God uses the surgery to heal him completely. Perhaps God "medicates" him to minimize the pain and maximize the recovery. And I would say, "Blessed be the name of the Lord."

Perhaps the outcome is less pleasant. Perhaps. But I would like to encourage my friend and the rest of the believers around him to still say, "Blessed be the name of the Lord." Because God always intends what He does for good (Gen 50:20; Rom 8:28). In the case of the less pleasant, I would like to encourage him to hear from God, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness" and respond as Paul did, "Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." (2 Cor 12:9)

I'm praying for him. I'm letting my requests be known to God (Phil 4:6). I'm praying, like all his many friends, if it be possible, to let this whole thing pass -- God can heal. If not, I'm praying that the Lord will guide the surgeon's hands and that he will be well and recover quickly and all that good stuff. I'm certain of a good outcome. But my prayer ultimately is that God would be glorified in whatever He does. That is, whatever the outcome, God is at work and doing what is best. I'd like my friend to remember that. Not just for the sake of comfort and peace (Phil 4:6-7), but also for the confidence that nothing is trivial, nothing is out of God's view, nothing is out of God's control, and everything is significant to God. We sometimes think bad things happen when God is out of control in some way or isn't looking. That doesn't happen. I'd like my friend to know that. We know that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). So I'll pray, but I won't worry. I know Whose hands my friend is in, confident that no matter what, the outcome cannot be bad.

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