Monday, September 19, 2016

Christians in Crisis Part II: On Blessings and Healing and Hope

The devotions found here are about Blessings and Healing and Hope. These are the cornerstones of our religious faith, and the things that we depend upon in times of trouble in our own lives. Charlotte Elliot, the author of the poem, Just as I Am, was herself an invalid, and her work speaks to us through these many years.

John Donne, a brilliant man who was also a devout Christian and a unique wordsmith, wrote on the subject of Hope, which is what we all struggle to embrace whenever the world begins to tumble around us with chaos and despair. Here are three offerings for those of us who seek blessings for our own lives, who pray for healing for ourselves and those whose lives have been torn apart, and hope, which is found in each Christian who accepts the message of love from Jesus Christ.

The first devotion comes from a story told by Charles Spurgeon, the great English preacher who was Calvinist in doctrine, though Baptist in denomination. He wrote about a poor minister who received one hundred pounds in five pound increments sent to him with the same message attached each time, "More to follow". Spurgeon wrote:

"Every blessing that comes from God is sent with the same message, 'And more to follow." I forgive you your sins, but there's more to follow." "I justify you in the righteousness of Christ, but there's more to follow."

I adopt you into my family, but there's more to follow. I educated you for heaven, but there's more to follow. I give you grace upon grace, but there's more to follow. I will uphold you in the hour of death, and as you are passing into the world of spirits, my mercy shall still continue with you, and when you land in the world to come there shall still be more to follow."

Joshua 14:9

This is a poem from Charlotte Elliot, an invalid herself, and a minister's daughter; Elliot wrote over 100 hymns in The Invalid's Hymn Book, published in 1854. Here is one of her devotions:

Just as I Am

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that thy blood was shed for me,
And that thou bidd'st me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt;
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind.
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need, in thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now to be thine, yea, thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Scripture: Mark 14:12; 1 Corinthians 5:7

One of my favorite poets is John Donne. His work was largely forgotten after his death in 1631, but it was revived in the twentieth century after the distinguished poets T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound cited Donne as influences on their own work. Here's one of his devotions which includes the wonderful line: "Faith is the foundation on which hope rests".
Ezra: 10:2

Hope Expects…

"..In sum, hope is nothing else than the expectation of the things that faith has believed to be truly promised to God. Thus faith believes God to be truthful: Hope expects that he will show his veracity at the opportune time. Faith believes God to be our Father: Hope expects that he will always act as such towards us. Faith believes eternal life to be given to us: Hope expects that it shall at some time be revealed. Faith is the foundation on which hope rests: Hope nourishes and maintains faith. For, just as no one can expect and hope anything from God, except he who will have first believed his promises, so, on the other hand, it is necessary that our feeble faith (lest it grow weary and fail) be sustained and kept by patient hope and expectation."

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