Tonight I was reading in The Valley of Vision, which is a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. It's a great book, and it's really been amazing for me to see the similarities between my own heart and someone who lived hundreds of years ago. We are the same. Both longing for something greater than ourselves. Both steeped in our sin. Both wrestling with the same human nature and tendencies. As I was reading tonight, I came across one simple sentence that caught me offguard.
My trials have been fewer than my sins.
Recently I have been experiencing a sense of loss and sadness, thinking on the past, my family I once knew now being non-existent, and dwelling on the thought that I have not yet been given what I want for my future. How often (and recently) I have come before God with a sense of entitlement. Entitlement to His forgiveness, to an enjoyable and painless life, to receive the things I want. This prayer, lifted to God so many years ago, helps me to see that I have no entitlement. I should only stand in awe that He would choose to pour out His grace on me, of all sinners. Were the numbers of trials in my life equivalent to that of my sin, I would be unable to stand. I have not been treated as my sins deserve, not through any reasons of entitlement or my deserving it, but because God is gracious.
Thou hast done for me all things well,
hast remembered, distinguished, indulged me.
All my desires have not been gratified,
but thy love denied them to me
when fulfilment of my wishes would have
proved my ruin or injury.
My trials have been fewer than my sins,
and when I have kissed the rod it has fallen
from thy hands.
Thou hast often wiped away my tears,
restored peace to my mourning heart,
chastened me for my profit.
All thy work for me is perfect,
and I praise thee.
“Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves;
therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.
For he wounds, but he binds up; he shatters, but his hands heal."
"If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared."
Every ounce of pain, sadness, joy, sorrow, frustration, gain, or loss is - as His child - meant to bring me more intimately to Him, pointing me to His grace, His goodness, His love, that I may abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
When I am tempted to complain that my life is not what I think it should be, may I remember that my trials are fewer than my sins, and be thankful and humbled before our great God.