I’ve said often that “The Valley of Vision,” besides the Bible, is by far the most influential book in my life thus up to this point in my life. Its devotional content is phenomenal, sound, and biblical at its core. It is a book based on some of the best prayers and devotions of some of the Puritans. I find more spiritual depth in one-half of a sentence in this devotional than I do in scores of volumes of many modern-day devotional materials. I want to give you a taste of the devotion I read today and some of my reflections based upon its contents. My reading today was from pages 76-77 (leather version) entitled “Love Lustres at Calvary.” The thoughts today center around the concepts of joy, sorrow, and the cross.
Colossians 3:1-2 says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth…” We must “set our mind on things that are above” instead of “things that are on earth…” Also, 2 Corinthians 6:10 says that we, Christians, are “…sorrowful, yet always rejoicing…” How is it that we can “set” our minds on things above? How is it that we can be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing”?
HIS TORMENT AND MY COMFORT
Look at the first reflection below:
“Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy…[Christ was] tormented that I might be comforted…”
Christ was “tormented that I might be comforted…” It’s obvious that there is eternal comfort that we, who are in Christ (Christians who have put our trust in Christ for salvation), will have one day, but how might this apply to us today in the midst of sorrow and toil? I think that a case could be made that if I, currently, remain discontented in my own “torment” due to adverse circumstances, then I am wasting what Christ has done for me on the cross. His “torment” was done to bring me comfort and if I am not comforted at the moment, then I am not taking advantage of the precious gift that He has given to me that can, and should, be in effect in my life right now. Salvation is not just something I shall inherit someday, but it is something that I currently possess at this moment, and my life should be a reflection of that salvation which is currently mine in Christ. How is it that I can walk in “torment” when Christ has been “tormented” for me so that I could receive comfort due to His sufferings? I need to view my current “torments” in light of the future glory that Christ has purchased for those that are His. How is it that I can remain in such torment, due to adverse circumstances, when so great a salvation has been purchased for me? Could it be that as I set my mind on things above (the eternal comfort I’ll have in Christ) that my current sorrow can shrink and shrivel in light of that glory which is soon to come? Current circumstances are for but a moment, but the comfort that Christ has given to me will be mine for eternity, and it is all to His glory and to His praise. We can be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” by looking beyond our own torments in this world and by taking comfort in the fact that eternal comfort is ours through the torment of Christ.
HIS TEARS AND MY TEARS
The next section continues…
“My Savior wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes,[My Savior] groaned that I might have endless song, endured all pain that I might have unfading health, bore a thorny crown that I might have a glory-diadem, bowed His head that I might receive welcome, closed His eyes in death that I might gaze on unclouded brightness, expired that I might for ever live.”
When the Puritan says that “My Savior wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes…” here, then, are some reflections on this point:
- I can cry less now because I know that one day I will cry no more.
- I can weep with both sorrow and joy now because one day all sorrow will be put behind me.
- There can be a limit on my tears of sorrow now knowing that, someday soon, my tears of sorrow will completely vanish from my sight.
- I can harness my sorrow now knowing that one day Christ will permanently harness all sorrow.
- I can weep tears of both sorrow and joy now, simultaneously, knowing that one day my joy will be both without limit and without sorrow.
HIS GROANS AND MY SONG
Next, the Puritan says that “My Savior…groaned that I might have endless song…” Here are a few reflections on this point:
- Currently, my songs of lament can be shortened since I know that someday I will be given the reality of an endless song of joy with no lament.
- I can purposely remove a “page,” each day, from my current “songbook” of lament and add a “page” from a joyful song since “the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day” (Proverbs 4:18).
HIS PAIN AND MY ETERNAL HEALTH
Another point the Puritan makes is that “My Savior…endured all pain that I might have unfading health…” Here are some reflections to follow this point:
- May all my physical pain remind me of the seriousness of the fall and of the glory of the redemption of our bodies unto eternal life and “unfading health.”
- May all good, physical health remind us of the excellent and “unfading health” that we, who are in Christ, will enjoy forever one day.
HIS CROWN AND MY CROWN
Next, the Puritan notes that Christ “…bore a thorny crown that I might have a glory-diadem…” Reflections:
- Even the poorest pauper on earth, who is in Christ, will wear the brightest crown that no king on earth has ever worn nor could ever fathom to create.
- “…For he who is least among you all is the one who is great” (Jesus in Luke 9:48b).
HIS CROSS AND OUR VICTORY
How is it that all of this is accomplished? See this final selection:
“O that my every breath might be ecstatic praise, my every step buoyant with delight, as I see my enemies crushed, Satan baffled, defeated, destroyed, [as I see] sin buried in the ocean of reconciling blood, hell’s gates closed, heaven’s portal open. Go forth, O conquering God, and show me the cross, mighty to subdue, [mighty to] comfort and save.”
- We battle sorrow and trials by remaining focused on Christ’s cross and resurrection and the victory that He has accomplished therein.
- We can battle with vigor now knowing that the Ultimate Battle has already be declared “Finished, Over, and Won” by Christ.
- We fight a defeated foe and set our gaze not upon the current “score” but upon the final “score” that has already been pronounced.
Finally, Paul reminds us:
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Corinthians 4:7-10, emphasis added).
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