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NIV is used unless otherwise noted.

Incomprehensible: Day 5

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:3

“But albeit that God doth seem sometimes to forsake his servants it is not for their confusion, but for their consolation; for by this means they come to be poor in spirit and wonderfully emptied of themselves.” Richard Sibbes (1577-1633) Puritan author

Satan, in the guise of a serpent, questioned why God had not allowed Adam and Eve free access to all of creation, particularly a certain tree and its fruit. Eve didn’t have a good answer, but confirmed the prohibition. Satan informed her that he knew the reason: This was a “magic” (my word) fruit that would allow them to have a perspective equal to God’s—knowing good and evil. Eve assessed the fruit by her senses—attractive and appetizing—and ate.

What a simple little story. A slight step outside the boundaries of God’s laws, a perfectly reasonable judgment about some fruit, an afternoon snack and BOOM! Mankind gone to hell in a handbasket.

Our big mistake is believing that this was a one-time event. We err badly when we forget that we are in a spiritual battle every moment of our lives. We cannot comprehend what is at stake when we decide that, based on our assessment, a temporary moral lapse is harmless or we are in control of a shady situation.

Spiritual poverty is relinquishment by faith to the God who is beyond our mental, physical and emotional resources. “Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39). As God, Jesus knew what was at stake; yet, as a man, he had to battle His humanity. He who is now in heaven praying for you and me, understands better than we ever will the temporal pain experienced in obeying God rather than yielding to the flesh. And also the eternal glory.

According to Richard Sibbes, only relinquishment leads to rest. The more we depend on God in our circumstances, the simpler life becomes. We begin to experience a peace-filled confidence when we unclench our fists, stop fighting for our rights and our agenda (even what seems to be a good or godly one). When we let God sort it out and use both us and our situation for His eternal, though for now, incomprehensible purposes.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Nancy Shirah

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