The Prisoner's Glory
Have you ever been lost? Out of your depth? Openly telling strangers you’re terrified when they would’ve been good with, “I’m good, how’re you?” Lol.
There is a new kind of terror when we’re lost. Our boundary seems boundless. As though we’re falling yet standing still.
Me on a bus in South Korea finding out there are two places with the same name, and despite having no idea how that’s possible, I am on a path unplanned and this driver doesn’t speak English.
That kind of lost has found me again in chronic pain. I’m at home, and I’m safe, but I struggle with discontentment.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)
Pastor Rob’s sermon emphasis on “and be thankful” hooked some meat in me. I know I’m struggling. This pain has killed many dreams and continues to stab for death blows. I earnestly seek Christ and his peace to rule, but in the command to be thankful, I have failed more often than not. Thankfully, He ever lives for me, and has held me up while I seek His wisdom for where I need to fill my life with gratitude.
Fast forward to today and I am listening to The Art of Divine Contentment by Thomas Watson. He mentions how discontentment robs us of sacrifices of thanksgiving. We know sacrifice always requires a cost (2 Samuel 24:24). Watson’s train of thought challenged me to not waste this sacrifice by being discontent.
So I prayed “Thank you, Lord, for this pain.” I thanked Him for all the sacrifices I’m paying out, all my fears, everything that’s hard, and I’m thanking Him. Why? Because He is worthy, and I want to be obedient.
It’s hard. I want to help others get there. The hard truth is we aren’t practicing “He is worthy” if we aren’t being obedient, so I do it and seek to do it more. I’ve held this devotion back for some time because I’m still in this struggle, and am still failing daily. When I pray for how I’m to serve, this comes to mind, so here we go. I pray it blesses you!
One quote from The Art of Divine Contentment is from some saint of Watson’s time, who said, “I am in prison for my prison.” He is pointing us sacrificers to be thankful for the glory to come. There is special glory earned for Jesus by suffering for His sake. Big or small, be faithful, but when the cost is great, so much more will the glory be, I expect. The quote, “I am in prison for my prison” is from some believer who so loves Jesus that he is in a kind of prison waiting for the earthly prison, or thorn, or trial that will refine him or her into a more steadfast, Christlike character. They are yearning for the sacrifice that would enable them to mystify the world by saying, even now, He is worthy. I will be obedient. I will be thankful.
If you’re in a prison, where fear is closing in, consider it as joy through its opportunity for the power of Christ in us. That’s what Paul said about his thorn in 2 Corinthians 12.
Like Paul, I go from thorn to grace and remind myself of his provision daily. The thorn remains, and greater still is His peace.
Watson’s book is a treasure of wisdom, but one last quote that’s really helped is, “I have a ticket to Heaven, and that is enough.”
It reminded me of that feeling when I was on that bus in Korea. A kind passenger translated between me and the driver so that I could get to the right place. The peace I had as the bus full of people who’ve seen me in my shame is gone, and I’m secure in location and body.
Terror was gone–barely a memory! In its place, peace ruled my heart. I was safe. My boundary shrank and built sufficient fortifications.
Peace in the Lord is better than this illustration. First, our salvation is kept by His power, so this bus-ride-like life is safe. The destiny is assured, though the ride may get so bumpy we lose a tire.
Would you with royal garb pout if you were not allowed to bend and pluck a flower? Watson asked something similar, and I have to admit, I seem pretty short-sighted to pout. I have a blessed inheritance.
The pain remains for now, but I trust in Him to keep this bus safe and rolling. I can exercise His power in patience to trust Him now, which He said is more glorious because I do not see.
After all, He’s with me the whole way. I will not fear the wilderness of tomorrow at the sacrifice of lost praise today. Today is the day to rejoice. Praise Him.