Friday, October 28, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #5 October 29, 2016

Fourth Quarter 2016 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Curse the Day"

October 29, 2016
One week ago we were walking along a road in Mexico City and we stopped to look and see what was causing a strange sound coming out from a highway underpass beneath us when suddenly there was a huge explosion and the whole ground shook. Instinctly, we began to move hastily away from where we were standing in case the ground beneath us collapsed. Presently, one of the political parties in Mexico has devised a new way of protesting – they are setting off firecrackers in the underpasses and tunnels. As to why they chose this method, we don't know, but it seems extremely immature, and possibly quite dangerous, even for themselves.
As we moved away from the place we had been standing, we turned and looked back. There was an older lady lying on the road with blood pouring out from a  huge gash in the side of her head. We ran to her and with the help of others, moved her off the road and into the shade where Heladia held a thick wad of toilet paper against the wound until the ambulance arrived twenty minutes later. When the explosion went off, she had panicked and began to run away but she tripped on the pavement, fell, and smashed her head on the side of the road.
As Heladia sat with her to stem the flow of blood and to comfort her, the lady told her that in previous years she has had major complications with her spine, and she is afraid her fall might have just caused more problems. She also said that she suffers from hypertension and that she is afraid of people and going out into society. And now here she was, lying on the ground, covered with blood, and with a dozen police officers and a large crowd of people gathered around her. She rarely ever leaves her home because of her fears, but that morning she had got her courage up to open that gate and to go outside into the world. And this is what the world gave her.
Life is not fair. We did not choose to be born into it. We did not choose for Adam to sin. He was the one that brought sin into this world. Not us. And now we have to live with the consequences. But is there anything to gain from pointing the finger, or shall we just learn to live with our situation?
However, this is not easy to do, unless we understand the great controversy that has been happening between good and evil for the last six thousand years or so. Only then can we know the meaning of life, and have the answer to our multitude of questions that begin with the word, "Why...?"
Fortunately, we have the Scriptures and the blessed writings of Ellen White to show us what is actually happening behind the things which we can only see and feel with our senses. But Job did not have this advantage. He did not know that Satan had walked into the presence of God, indignant at Job's trust in God and his obedience to Him and demanded an opportunity to test his faithfulness. Can you imagine Job's confusion when, in one day, everything that had made his life worth living was taken away from him! And then he is afflicted with terrible boils and all he has left is the pile of ashes in which he sits. And to top it all off, his greatest support on this earth abandons him. "Curse God and die", his wife says - a strong suggestion that he has lost her too, for the time being. What a miserable experience!
Not understanding the reality of the situation, and the spritual warfare that was being fought over him, is it any wonder that Job cried out, "Let the day perish wherein I was born!" Who can blame him for speaking in such bitterness of soul? Can you? Can I? How many of us, when life has taken an unexpected turn for the worst, have felt just this same way that Job was feeling? How many of us have ever thought that just maybe it was best that we were never born? And yet, we know the great controversy... We knowwhat is going on behind the scenes...
When things don't work out right, and people ask me what went wrong, I tend to give one answer - "I was born"... I hid in my mother's womb for an extra four weeks past the due date because I did not want to come out into this world. But I was born, and life has had lots of nasty surprises for me, as it has for all of us. I have my fleeting moments of regret, then I grit my teeth and say, "Well, here I am now. I can't change anything. Let's see why God permitted me to be born." And I give my life into His hands.
Looking back, we can see perfectly why God permitted Job to be born. How much encouragement do we get from his experience today! I mean, seriously, could any of us ever lose as much as he lost, and so quickly? And yet, "in all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly" (Job 1:22). If God's grace was sufficient for him, then it will be more than sufficient for us.
The remarkable thing is that although Job didn't undertsand why he was going through his suuffering, he still held onto the hand of God. Today, we can understand our experience, yet it is a huge struggle for us also not to give in to despondency. Many times, that despondency may seem to have a moment's victory, and then we condemn ourselves for it. And so, let's contemplate something really important for a moment.
Job chapter 3 is one seriously bitter chapter, full of loathing of his life and his very existence. But God never rebuked him for his lamentation. Consider Jeremiah, who also bitterly lamented his birth, but with far greater violence. He said the same thing as Job, "Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed. Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, A man child is born unto thee; making him very glad. And let that man be as the cities which the LORD overthrew, and repented not: and let him hear the cry in the morning, and the shouting at noontide; Because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb to be always great with me. Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?" (Jeremiah 20:14-18). And yet there is no word spoken in condemnation of Jeremiah either.
While the great prophet Elijah did not lament his birth, he also wished that he could have escaped from this world, with all its sorrow and suffering. "He requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers." (1 Kings 19:4). God did not meet him with rebuke, but with tender pity.
We should not think for one second that God does not know how unfair things are that we were born into this world of suffering. It was definitely not part of His plan. He did not choose this for us either. But for the sake of the stability of the universe, He cannot just click His fingers and make things better. He must permit the great controversy to play out so that we might have our eyes opened as to who Satan really is and that he is the cause of our sufferings, not God. The whole universe must understand that God really is love, even though there appears to be so much suffering. It is not God's fault. It is Satan's. And God wants us to learn this so that we will stop giving him and sin our affections, so that when God destroys them both, we will not be destroyed with them.
Other lessons this quarter will deal with the all-sufficiency of God's grace in the trial. But what we must take away from this one is that God understands our suffering and confusion, and He will not condemn us if we, for a moment, regret our existence. He understands. We must believe this. It is only when we cherish these thoughts, or act on it, that we bring ourselves under condemnation.
The greatest proof of the fact that God understands is found in the experience of His Son. Alonzo Jones tells us in the 1895 General Conference Bulletins that Psalm 22 is the "Crucifixion Psalm", - it is the experience of Jesus as He hung upon the cross. Indeed it is, for when He was in the upper room after His resurrection He said to His disciples, "And He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me" (Luke 24:44).
In Psalm 22 we see what Christ´s internal experience is. We can read His thoughts. We know this chapter is talking about Jesus because in verses 16-18 He describes His external experience: "For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture." And it becomes abundanly clear that the whole chapter is about Him when we read the very first verse: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?"
Knowing that this chapter is speaking of Jesus, we can more fully appreciate verse 6, where He says: "But I am a worm, and no man". Yes, This is Jesus speaking. We are getting a look into how He was feeling as He hung upon the cross, with our sins laid upon Him. He feels like a worm. Have you ever felt like that? As though you wished you could just crawl away and hide from everything? Especially when you see the mistakes that you have made with your life? Here is Jesus, feeling the guilt of your sins, feeling as though He was the one that committed them, the one that made all the mistakes in your life, and He feels like He wants to just crawl away and hide too.
But this worm isn't just any worm. It is referring to the larvae of flies – the maggots that we see devouring the corpses of roadkill. Under the burden of our sins, this is how Jesus is feeling – like the worst person ever.
Yes. Jesus, and our Father through Jesus, understands exactly how we feel when we bitterly lament our existence. No, Jesus did not cherish this feeling, neither did He express it out loud, but here in chapter 22 we see Him facing the same challenges that we face. Did He choose for sin to enter into this world? Did He choose for its consequences to bring so much pain and sorrow into this life? No. But He did choose to be born. Why? So that He can understand why we choose not to be born. And, believe me, He really does understand. And then, understanding why we feel that way, He can bring us hope. Hope that God has permitted things for a reason, and that some day we will actually be grateful for our experiences even though we may not understand them now. It is when times are darkest that the smallest ray of light seems so much brighter. It is when surrounded by prickly thorns that the rose is most beautiful and its scent most wonderful. And so it is that when life is the hardest that we feel the soft, tender and caring touch of God...
But while we are on this exciting and sometimes crazy adventure of discovering the love of God, let us not forget that the greatest men that have ever lived, those who have testified so powerfully of the love of God, have also struggled with the darkest of all feelings. It was in those dark times that they learned the love of which they testified. Let us not become discouraged because we became discouraged. Many times we do that – we think we have committed a terrible sin because of the negative feelings that sweep over us. Never believe for one moment that God condemns you for it. Rejoice and be happy that He understands. Get up and keep trusting Him. Be like Jesus. Even though you might feel that you are the worst person ever, and that your whole life may appear to be a waste, submit your life into His hands. They are waiting to accept you, just as you are. And He will show you why...
~ Camron & Heladia Schofield