High in the Lows

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Original photo by Adam Baker

Daily Reform, Psalm 130:1-8

From the Reformer

Still the contempt which believers should train themselves to feel for the present life, must not be of a kind to beget hatred of it or ingratitude to God. This life, though abounding in all kinds of wretchedness, is justly classed among divine blessings which are not to be despised. Wherefore, if we do not recognize the kindness of God in it, we are chargeable with no little ingratitude towards him. To believers, especially, it ought to be a proof of divine benevolence, since it is wholly destined to promote their salvation. Before openly exhibiting the inheritance of eternal glory, God is pleased to manifest himself to us as a Father by minor proofs—viz. the blessings which he daily bestows upon us. Therefore, while this life serves to acquaint us with the goodness of God, shall we disdain it as if it did not contain one particle of good? We ought, therefore, to feel and be affected towards it in such a manner as to place it among those gifts of the divine benignity which are by no means to be despised. Were there no proofs in Scripture (they are most numerous and clear), yet nature herself exhorts us to return thanks to God for having brought us forth into light, granted us the use of it, and bestowed upon us all the means necessary for its preservation. And there is a much higher reason when we reflect that here we are in a manner prepared for the glory of the heavenly kingdom. For the Lord hath ordained, that those who are ultimately to be crowned in heaven must maintain a previous warfare on the earth, that they may not triumph before they have overcome the difficulties of war, and obtained the victory. Another reason is, that we here begin to experience in various ways a foretaste of the divine benignity, in order that our hope and desire may be whetted for its full manifestation. When once we have concluded that our earthly life is a gift of the divine mercy, of which, agreeably to our obligation, it behoves us to have a grateful remembrance, we shall then properly descend to consider its most wretched condition, and thus escape from that excessive fondness for it, to which, as I have said, we are naturally prone.

—John Calvin, Institutes

Pulling It Together

Sometimes things just do not turn out the way you would have planned. Still, you can stay the course and finish the race. (1Tim 4:7) Indeed, the Spirit bears witness to your spirit (Rom 8:16) that you must see things through to completion even if “things” are not turning out the way you hoped. Habakkuk had to admit this as Paul did later. Though you are faced with financial ruin, poor health, and divorce, you can and must rejoice in God your Savior. In the worst of times, the Christian finds that all she is left with is everything she needs. For God is her strength — the One who takes her to the “high places” (Hab 3:19) where she realizes that nothing can separate her from the love of God in Christ. (Rom 8:38-39)

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

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