July 22, 2008

The Grace of God's Presence

Matthew 10:27-31

“Not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.”
Matthew 10:29


At some point, every person experiences suffering in his or her life. C. S. Lewis, who wrote extensively on what he called “the problem of pain,” claimed that suffering is in some ways harder for believers than unbelievers. The reason, he suggested, is that believers must reconcile their suffering with their faith in a good and loving God. This is a dilemma that unbelievers obviously do not need to address. In today's Bible reading Jesus seems to indicate that a sparrow dies when God has willed it to die. The original Greek text, however, does not mention the will of God here. It simply says, literally, “Not one sparrow will fall to the ground without your Father.” In an attempt to make more sense of this, translators added a reference to God's will, but perhaps the original reading is better. It assures us that God does not ultimately intend for us to suffer and that he is graciously present with us in all the painful experiences we go through. Sparrows and all other living creatures will eventually suffer and die. But as Luke's recording of this teaching puts it, the comforting news is that not one sparrow “is forgotten by God” (Luke 12:6). Trusting in God will not solve all the mysteries of his will. But it does confirm the grace of God's presence.

Dear Lord, help all who are suffering to know that you are with them. Use us to show them your love. We pray in the name of Immanuel?“God with us.” Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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