Thursday, November 12, 2009


The really amazing thing about this flower: it's blooming outside my window, and it is November. November. In New York.

God is so gracious and merciful. I was bracing myself for February today, thinking about the upcoming sleet, snow and frigid weather. But today it is November 12, the sun is almost shining, and there is a white rose blooming outside my window.

Sometimes God is gracious in up-front, out-right kinds of ways... like in giving me a rose blossom in November.

Other times, His grace comes in stranger packages.

The other day I was reading in Isaiah, and I came across this verse:

"The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death." (Isaiah 57:1-2)

It reminded me of the story where wicked King Jeroboam's son became very ill, and Jeroboam sent his wife, in disguise, to ask the Lord's prophet whether her son would live or die. God was planning to send judgment on Jeroboam, a terrible judgment that would be awful to behold. Regarding the king's son, God gave his mother this message: "As for you, go back home. When you set foot in your city, the boy will die. All Israel will mourn him and bury him. He is the only one belonging to Jeroboam who will be buried, because he is the only one in the house of Jeroboam in whom the Lord, the God of Israel, has found anything good." (1 Kings 14:12-13)

We always assume that earthly health, wealth and prosperity are the blessings of God, but sometimes the opposite is true. Sometimes God takes a person out of this life to spare him earthly pain. And sometimes God strikes a man into disaster in order to break down his mistaken belief that he is fine on his own and has no need of a Savior. This looks harsh from our point of view, but in truth it is a mercy, because it takes a man headed for eternal disaster and points him toward heaven instead. Sometimes God uses discomfort in this life to help us prepare and look forward to the next life, the real one, the one without an end.

We should not fear death the way we do. We need to remind ourselves that God is sovereign, and everything is part of His plan. This is hard; it goes against every natural fiber of our being. It requires super-human faith, the faith and trust that come only from God.

For those of us with faith, we should remind ourselves every day:

" live is Christ and to die is gain."

(Philippians 1:21)

Because, believe it or not, in heaven, God has much greater wonders for us than even a white rose blooming in November.

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