Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Our Daily Bread in ALL Things

     My dear friend Gary Cepek has given me permission to share his words of response to my brotherly concern for his health. He has Lyme Disease, which has recurring symptoms that are sometimes very severe. His response is one that I believe can serve us all as we look to our gracious God and Father for purpose and understanding in our daily experiences.

     Thank you again for your encouragement and support about my health issues. Our God graciously grants such expressions in Christ to add to the goodness of the day He grants me. As Luther was granted insight to teach Scriptural truths about daily bread, he noted that good health is a daily gift our Father grants us each day. As the Spirit mercifully renews me in Christ during the day He gives me, I grasp by faith that truth, that no matter how I or anyone else may adjudge my health (or any other aspect of daily bread for that matter) it is good because it is exactly what the Father knows will best serve His eternal purpose for me "today" all the while serving my earthly life in the best possible way also. Paralleling that truth, all that is of the curse from Adam and on Adam and us must also serve that wonderful purpose. So truly, each child of God has each moment every good and perfect gift, coming down from the heavenly Father with whom there is no variation or change.

     Gary has been taught in the school of the Holy Spirit the faith that grasps God’s gracious activity even in the things that cannot be understood from our ordinary human reason. The Holy Spirit is poured out to us in our baptism to be our counselor and comforter and teacher. The Lord Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would lead His disciples into all truth, causing them to recall all things whatsoever that He had taught them and putting these into the proper perspective. That same promise is given to us.

     This faith is not a faith that we generate for ourselves. It is the faith of Jesus, the faith through which His life, His accomplishments, His faithfulness, His goodness, His merits are accounted to us as our own so that we are made to know God as our loving, gracious, merciful Father.

     Gary’s words above are more than just a statement of what he personally chooses to believe. These words are a wonderful prayer. This prayer is taught by the Holy Spirit. In this prayer is expressed the absolute confidence that the Holy Spirit gives concerning God’s promises to work good through all things to those who love Him, the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

     In the following verse St. Paul further explains this, saying:

     For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

     Here St. Paul explains that God’s knowledge concerning us is perfect. His knowledge of who we are and what we need is from eternity. We see things from the limitations of our temporality. Our perception is blurred by our senses of pain and loss and grief and sorrow. We often cannot see the good that God is working for us through the circumstances that we encounter. Through the faith of Jesus, however, we do see. This faith directs us beyond what we can know according to our own reason and strength to the assurance of God’s perfect holiness and goodness, His limitless mercy and love. We are made to have this confidence in connection with the preaching of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. As the doctrine of the true faith directs us away from ourselves to the preaching of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, then we see how God works for us through the most horrific suffering and anguish. Our fleshly nature looks for help and relief through other means, but God brings us perfect deliverance through the cross.

     In their eternal counsel together the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit predestinated our salvation through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. From beyond the reaches of time they stretched forth their mercy to us and redeemed us from the destructive choices of our sinfulness. And God turned suffering and death and misery into the opposite for us, He turned these into blessedness, life, and everlasting joy. Even our considerably lesser troubles also serve God’s purposes for us, if we receive them in the faith that He gives. Then we begin to pray as dear Gary has shared with us. Then we begin to understand how our Lord Jesus prayed especially in the garden, “Not My will but Thine be done.” Then, by faith, we already have the blessing that we will only perceive with our time bound reason on the other side of the trial.

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