The Shared Trait

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Original sketch by Hans Holbein, the Younger 

Daily Reformation, Acts 9:1-6

From the Reformer

A Christian may perhaps not fall into the gross sins of murder, adultery, theft, but he is not free from impatience, complaints, hatreds, and blasphemy of God. As carnal lust is strong in a young man, in a man of full age the desire for glory, and in an old man covetousness, so impatience, doubt, and hatred of God often prevail in the hearts of sincere Christians. Examples of these sins may be garnered from the Psalms, Job, Jeremiah, and all the Sacred Scriptures.

Accordingly each Christian continues to experience in his heart times of the Law and times of the Gospel. The times of the Law are discernible by heaviness of heart, by a lively sense of sin, and a feeling of despair brought on by the Law. These periods of the Law will come again and again as long as we live. To mention my own case. There are many times when I find fault with God and am impatient with Him. The wrath and the judgment of God displease me, my wrath and impatience displease Him. Then is the season of the Law, when “the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.”

—Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians

Pulling It Together

Just when all seems darkest, God is in control. It may not be the way you would have planned it. In fact, in usually is not. Yet on the other side, you can see God in it. David was plagued by Saul for a decade before he assumed his kingdom. Christians are sometimes persecuted for a lifetime. Our Lord was not unacquainted with suffering, persecution, and death. But God takes such suffering and turns it into glory.

Saul, the great persecutor of the Church, eventually desired to participate in those same sufferings, stating that he wanted to “know [Christ] and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” (Phil 3:10)

These men share a trait. When life was lowest—hiding in a cave, hanging on a cross, blinded and alone—they depended on God to share their sufferings, to lift them up, and to restore them. And he did.

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

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