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June 21, 2014

THE JOY LADY: Evidence of our faith is not evident when we know what to do

TERRE HAUTE — Sometimes bad things happen to us. That’s usually when we ask, “Why, Lord?” But I wonder, do we have the right to ask that in the bad times if we’ve never asked it during the good times?

Let me explain. I just found out I have arthritis. This should not be surprising news at my age, but it’s in my hand. So, it hurts to cook, to sew, to make jewelry, to hold a book while I’m reading — the things I love to do. So, I complain about it to God. “Why do I have arthritis in my hand?” On the flip side, I hardly ever asked, “Why, Lord? Why did you put my hand together so fearfully and wonderfully? Why did you make it work the way it does with all those bones and joints and tendons and nerve endings?”

Did I ever think about my hand and thank God for the way it worked? Was I ever grateful for my hand when I picked up my grandchildren? Chopped vegetables for soup? Made a necklace for a friend? No, indeed, I did not. But I sure have talked to God a lot about my hand since arthritis has made its ugly home in my hand.

So, do we have the right to complain about something going wrong when we were never grateful for it when things were going right? Could it be that complaining comes from the state of our hearts more than from the state of our circumstances? Painful question, isn’t it?

In 1909, in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, the wife and three sons of popular Methodist Episcopal preacher, Luther B. Bridgers, were killed in a fire. In the midst of his grief, Mr. Bridgers wrote the words to one of our favorite hymns, “He Keeps Me Singing.”

Instead of asking “Why me?” Mr. Bridgers wrote these words: “There’s within my heart a melody/Jesus whispers sweet and low/Fear not I am with thee, peace be still/In all of life’s ebb and flow.” The second verse is even more poignant: “All my life was wrecked by sin and strife/Discord filled my heart with pain/Jesus swept across the broken strings/Stirred the slumbering chords again.” The strength of Bridgers’ recovery is in the depth of gratitude found in the third verse: “Feasting on the riches of his grace/Resting ‘neath His sheltering wing/Always looking on his smiling face/That is why I shout and sing.” Bridgers’ hope during crisis is displayed in the last verse: “Soon He’s coming aback to welcome me/Far beyond the starry sky/I shall wing my flight to worlds unknown/I shall reign with Him on high.”

I believe the evidence of our faith is not evident when we know what to do. It is when we don’t know what to do that demonstrates the level of our faith. Do we sing, “Why me?” or do we sing, “There’s within my heart a melody?” Do we voice our anger over our circumstances, or do we give voice to the hope that Jesus is there “in all of life’s ebb and flow?”

OK. Let’s all join in on the chorus: “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus/Sweetest name I know/Fills my every longing/Keeps me singing as I go.”

Verna Davis, speaker and writer, may be reached at vrdspeaks@yahoo.com.

 

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