As my third semester at Southern comes to a close, I have to admit that it has been the most trying semester yet. I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts since Thanksgiving, searching my heart for the lessons I have learned in these past six months. I wish I could figure it all out, but I have not been able to do so. I have sought the Lord for an explanation to all this, asking him what is the meaning, lesson, or purpose behind what He has permitted to happen in my life. In this blog post, I want to share with you what I have figured out so far.
Peace in His Purposes
At the end of the day, I have not found a complete answer. The Lord has revealed His macro purposes to all this (repentance, reliance, righteousness, reward, reminder), but I have come to be convinced that this is an instance when God in His divine sovereignty does not fully explain pain. He has not revealed His micro purposes to what I have experienced. And so, while I still have some anxiety from not having all the answers, I have also received ample peace of God through remembering and embracing that I have peace with God. The pilgrimage of the past couple months has thus been to trust the LORD that He knows what He’s doing, in spite of me having absolutely no clue as to why He has picked on me (in this painful way) to work out this minute detail in his redemptive plan.
Resolve for Reconciliation
The fleshly desire of my own heart is resolved to bring this season to a resolution. This resolve comes in spurts: sometimes I feel the necessity of this, and at other times, I am so tired emotionally and spiritually that I just want to let it be. There are times that I am convinced that as a man of God I need to do more — to lead and take the initiative in reconciliation; but there are also times that I find that the most biblical thing to do in this current context is not to do anything more. In this latter sense, I have done all that I can do; I have said all that was needed to be said. In the grand scheme of things, it’s all in God’s hands now — or from my perspective, it’s beyond my control. “Water under the bridge.” And this is really scary, because truly, truly — there is absolutely nothing more I can do.
The most significant passage of Scripture that has shaped my understanding of God’s redemptive plan is 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 in which the Apostle Paul explains Jesus’ earthly ministry of reconciliation that He accomplished through his substitutionary death. Among all the other things which have occupied my mind since September, this message of reconciliation has been at the forefront of my daily thoughts. As I meditate on this passage, and as I am in the process of writing a paper on 1 Peter 2:4-10, I am convicted that we do not live up to our identity as God’s chosen people. We don’t look like who we say we are; we don’t behave like the people God has redeemed us to be. Simply put, our behavior lies about our identity. It just doesn’t add up: what we do contradicts who we are.
Too often we lie to ourselves and to those around us, pretending like everything is fine when it is not. “How are you today?” You smile, and answer, “I am fine.” This goes on and on, for days and weeks, until you are confronted with the truth that we cannot boast in outward appearances but we must examine the heart. For if we have died to our old selves and have been raised to new life by the sovereign grace of God, then His love should control us. Since Christ was brutally crushed by the wrath of God on the cross for our sins, His self-sacrificial suffering in our place should compel us to live for Him who died for us.
In this, I am convinced that Jesus’ love should move us toward true reconciliation in Christ: the truth that we are no longer enemies, but friends; and not just friends, but brothers and sisters united by the blood of Christ; and not just brethren, but fellow heirs of God’s eternal inheritance. What this looks like practically speaking in day to day terms, I do not know: for it has yet to happen.
Longing For That Day
Let me be honest: I long to grow up. I yearn to get to that point when I finally could consider myself “mature”; to be walking in that God-given context for the achievement of maturity in adulthood. Through what has happened recently, I think I am getting there — albeit in a painfully slow manner. God is moving me in that direction, and teaching me through difficulty that usually life’s greatest gifts come wrapped in adversity. One day soon in the future, we will look back at this season of our lives and say, “Wow, look how far we have come! How near-sighted were we back then to be so anxious! That was a difficult experience to go through, but my, have we learned a lot from it! We have grown so much since that time!”
In that day, we will see this situation with a clarity that we do not yet have and with eyes that see with a perspective like God’s. We will finally understand “why”; the mystery of God’s eternal purpose will be revealed; His explanation will be fully uncovered. But until that time, we trust, and wait.
People say that time heals everything.
To that I humbly submit, “I am still waiting.”
Praying that that day will come sooner rather than later…
Alex S. Leung,
Your love for me is a healing comfort for me
Your grace to me is a matchless gift to me
Your power in me is a mighty river in me
At the end of the day with the setting of the sun
After all is said and done
What else can I do but worship
What else can I do but bow
‘Cause all I really long for is You
And all I really yearn for is You
Your sovereignty is a sure foundation for me
Your care for me is enduring peace in me
Your hope in me brings a sweet surrender to me
("What Else Can I Do" by Steve Fee)