John Bennett, Pinxton, Nottingham [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
‘Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body’, Phil. 3. 21.
As we get older we become more aware of the frailty of this mortal vessel in which we dwell. It may be the aches and pains associated with abnormal physical exertion. It may be that we struggle with injury or disease and their debilitating effects. It may be that the march of time takes it toll and the things we once took for granted are now a major issue. Whatever the cause, there are constant reminders of our ‘body of humiliation’ JND.
For those coping with the pain and debilitating effects of disease the results of the fall are all too evident. We are led to appreciate the devastating consequences of one act of disobedience. What a lesson for all of us to help us see sin from the divine viewpoint. But a realization that sin has ruined the perfect creation of God brings no comfort to the hurting and sorrowing saint. Though we can look forward to a time when ‘God shall wipe away all tears . . . and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain’, Rev. 21. 4, this does not provide complete comfort for the present.
How many have sat in the darkness and despair of their painful plight and asked the question, ‘Why?’ or, more personally, ‘Why me?’? At such times of despondency, a clear exposition of scripture does not spring to mind. The brain does not function as it should. For loved ones looking on there is a deep sense of impotence. We don’t know what to do and, even less, what to say. However, let us remind ourselves of the experiences of some in scripture.
I am reminded of Elijah as he fled from the threat-laden rant of the wicked Jezebel who had sworn to kill him. In the loneliness of the wilderness, sitting under a juniper tree, he cries, ‘It is enough . . . take away my life’, 1 Kgs. 19. 4. Yet in his despair, at the lowest ebb of his experience, ‘there came a voice unto him’, v. 13. The God of the powerful drought, of the miraculous provision and of the fire of Carmel, draws near in ‘a sound of gentle stillness’, v. 12 margin. Elijah’s experience brought him to despair but also to a deeper appreciation of his God.
Can we identify with the suffering of righteous, God-fearing Job? Have we ever felt as he felt when he said, ‘I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me’, Job 31. 20, or when, in desperation, he cried, ‘Oh that one would hear me . . . that the Almighty would answer me!’? We would search in vain for God’s answer to the question, ‘Why me?’ However, as with Elijah, Job’s experience of his God was deepened. Whereas he could once say, ‘I have heard of thee’, his experience was ‘now mine eye seeth thee’, Job 42. 5. May our appreciation of ‘the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort’, 2 Cor. 1. 3, deepen as He draws near to each of our hearts!
In this issue there is a variety of material which we hope will be a blessing to the Lord’s people. Two series are concluding – that of Graham Hobbs and Shawn Abigail. Two series are continuing – that of Jim Cochrane and John Scarsbrook. There is also a continuation of the practical ministry on marriage and the short series on the Kingdom. Our prayerful desire is that we might continue to present a scripturally consistent yet relevant magazine for the people of God.