I am blessed for what I have and also for what I have lost for when we lose one blessing God helps us make place for a bigger and better one to come our way. Unfortunately rather than being thankful for opening the way for the better, we start fighting and complaining to God for the blessing perceiving it as a curse instead. Charles Dickens was right in saying “Reflect upon your present blessings- of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some”. Praise God for this day in our lives and thankfully make the most of it to bring Him glory and open the door for more to come our way.
Is it necessary to lose something to receive something else? – At birth a man leaves the security of the mother’s womb to enter an unknown new environment but unless he leaves that it is not possible to start on the new journey of life. Invariably God moves us from one position to the other more important and responsibility filled state to glorify Him. Mary Magdalene was the first human being to see and meet the risen Lord on the blessed Sunday morning and her tears of grief were turned to joy to make her exclaim “Rabboni”, the term of endearment used by the disciples to address Lord Jesus (John 20:16). In her joyful state she wanted to hold on to the Lord for she did not want to be separated from Him anymore but the stern message of the Lord “Do not cling to Me” must have surprised her.
The Greek word translated as cling is ‘haptou’ which means “to lay hold of; fasten to; take possession; cling; to catch or pursue” and a similar word in Hebrew is ‘dabak/dabaq” which also essentially means the same. The Hebrew word dabaq is used in various places in the Old Testament and the two widows who have lost their husbands and are from two different cultures and faiths, yet the daughter-in-law Ruth, a Moabite, ‘clings’ to Naomi her mother-in-law to go with her (Ruth 1:14). The word ‘dabaq’ used here is also used in Genesis 2:24 to express the feelings Adam had towards Eve after God created her “to become one”. Lord Jesus’ message to Mary Magdalene is clear- I have to go back to My Father after completion of My task here and as promised the “Comforter” in the form of the Holy Spirit shall come to dwell in and with all believers in oneness. She had to lose and let go to ensure the ‘union of the Son with the Father’ and His enthronement as King of Kings to become our Advocate and High Priest in heaven to bless us and answer our prayers through the onset the blessed presence of the Holy Spirit in us. We now have two persons of the Holy Trinity directly blessings us- the Holy Spirit in us to guide, lead and empower us and the Savior Lord Jesus as our Advocate in heaven to listen to, present and get our prayers accepted by the Lord God.
Hanna was a barren woman, childless after years of marriage, and fulfilled her vow to give her firstborn son Samuel in the Temple for God’s worship and service “all the days of his life” (1 Samuel 1:11) and was blessed with 5 more children after that. She fulfilled her vow to God by giving to receive more from God and God made her son a prophet priest who was ever ready to hear and obey the voice of God and anointed Israel’s first king Saul and the best king David. Apostle Paul’s emphatic command to all believers is “In everything (every situation) give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). This attitude of thanksgiving in every situation- good or bad, achieves two purposes in our lives; firstly, we fulfill God’s will for us and secondly, Satan feels dejected by our attitude. Job lost everything in one go- his family, fortune and friends, yet he thanked God and “did not sin against God by charging Him for wrongdoing” (Job 1:20-22). Job suffered endlessly without reason for he was not aware of the reason for his suffering yet he continued in faith and received double of all that he had lost.
How to call God when in trouble? – The question then arises about the correctness of seeking help from God in times of calamity and hardship. God’s promise is “He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him” (Psalm 91:15). In times of trouble who do we call and how do we call are the two questions. Firstly, the attitude– do we call out with loud wailing, complaining and playing the victim for every trial or tribulation coming our way? The right has been clarified for us clearly “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Him” (Hebrews 12:2-3). Lord Jesus did not complain but made a request and with it thankfully and humbly surrendered Himself to the Will of God the Father. Job suffered without blaming God and many more warriors of faith suffered in like manner.
The coming of the Lord Jesus as man was to reveal God to mankind and then make us eligible, through forgiveness of sins, to be led in to the Holiest of Holies in the presence of God by establishing a relationship as His children. A tunnel being dug to make a road to traverse the snow bound mountain during all seasons is started from both ends and then joined in the centre to open the way. The destination was the Holiest area of God’s presence behind the veil and one end of the tunnel was started by God the Father by tearing of the veil and the other end was started through the resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead and opening of the tomb. The way- the Only Way- was thus opened for us to be in the presence of God in each and every situation at any time. After resurrection Lord Jesus appeared before humanity to reveal the New Way and help them now to “cling to Him” and Apostle Thomas was asked to confirm by touching the wounded parts of the hands and the side. His rising from the dead and ascending to heaven with the same body proves His claim to be “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).
Who do we call when in trouble? – Lord Jesus after opening the way for us has become our “High Priest” forever (Hebrews 4:14) and a High Priest leads the believers in worship and prayer and places our requests before God the Father. We have been granted entry into the party at the invitation and introduction of the Son and though the Son as heir has “the power and authority over everything on earth and in the sky” (Matthew 28:18) yet He declares “I can of Myself do nothing” (John 5:30). I am often asked this question- what will you do first on entering heaven? My answer as a soldier is simple- when you enter the presence of two very senior Generals of different ranks, you first salute and pay respects to the senior of the two and then wish the other and pay respects to him. Thus I will first worship God the Father for letting med enter into His Divine presence and then humbly thank the Son for giving me the right and privilege to be there.
The right of entry has been provided by the Son and only He can be my contact to seek redress for any problem that I may have. Thus though the petition is addressed to the Highest Authority- God the Father, yet it is handed over to God the Son who is our Advocate in heaven. It will be foolish on my part to try and reach God when I have such a loving and compassionate Advocate available to me to present my poorly presented request before the final Authority. This is what our Lord taught us as an answer to our prayer to ‘teach us to pray’ for the opening line is “Our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9) but the command is “Ask in My name”. Thus the prayer is to the Father but in the name of the Son who has given us the right of access to Him and Who humbly obeyed the Father to suffer for us. We have to thank God the Father for granting our requests, God the Son for providing us the privilege to call God the Father and thus opening the way for us and God the Holy Spirit for guiding and empowering us to see the Light and move on the “Only Way”.
Should we call Lord Jesus to come and help us? – After finishing the assigned task our Lord has ascended to heaven to be “glorified with the Father, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5). He is seated at the right hand of the Father in His eternal glorious state as King of Kings and Lord of Lords in full power and authority that He enjoyed since time immemorial before anything ever came in to being (Mark 16:19 & John 17:5). He cannot be asked to shed this glory again for He did it once to become man and His second coming is to judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1). After completion of the process of creation, God rested on the seventh day after ‘inspecting His creation and declaring it as very good’, for He had entrusted the authority and power over everything to Adam and Eve to manage. In like manner, our Lord Jesus also rests from His hard labor of love as a man on the earth after getting us entry into the Holiest of Holies in God’s presence. Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, “being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” and declared this fact to all (Acts 7:55-56). Lord Jesus gets up from His throne only to welcome into His Divine presence those who have achieved excellence on earth in pursuance to God’s Will for them.
After having received entry into God’s very presence it will be folly to call Lord Jesus to come down to the earth to bless us. He has promised us “I will never leave you nor forsake you” and is ever present with us through the indwelling Holy Spirit in us (Hebrew 13:5). We must see His role as beyond the Lamb of God to take away our sins to the King and High priest and go to His presence to present our prayers before Him.
How do we call God in times of trouble? – This is the second aspect of calling God, after who do we call and here it is the attitude of calling out to God. Firstly, acknowledge our helplessness and incapability to achieve anything on our own and the Lord repeatedly declared this “the Son can do nothing of Himself” (John 5:19). Secondly, surrender to God’s authority and then seek empowerment from Him to do His will through us. Thirdly, glorify God through our deeds carries out in earnestness and due diligence to set an example for others. Fourthly, thank Him for His Divine intervention in our lives to help us achieve whatever we have.
We have the privilege of entering in to God’s presence, a blessing which the Old Testament saints could see in faith but did not receive. Being in the very presence of God is not for placing our requests before Him, get empowered to do what we plan but to know and fellowship with Him. The angels are such mighty creatures, one being able to kill a hundred and eighty five thousand warriors in a single night, yet they cover their faces with two wings to accept their nothingness and with other two wings cover their feet to hide their own walk/plans. Before God we are nothing but ‘a speck of dust dancing in His Light’ ever joyful for the King David rightly proclaimed “in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). C.S.Lewis, the great theologian, announced “Joy is the serious business of heaven” and if our prayer time does not bring joy to us, seek help of the Holy Spirit to lead you to this ecstatic state.
“Joy is distinctly a Christian word and a Christian thing. It is the reverse of happiness. Happiness is the result of what happens of an agreeable sort. Joy has its springs deep down inside. And that spring never runs dry, no matter what happens. Only Jesus gives that joy. He had joy, singing its music within, even under the shadow of the cross” S.D.Gordon. God’s presence fills us with joy when we come in our nakedness, of thought, word and deed, before Him, hiding nothing and coming to get filled with His Divine glory and light.
Our presence in the Holiest of Holies helps us focus on our strengths that are in and from the Lord and not on our weaknesses thus leading us away from our reputation, earned through our deeds, to our character that is being transformed into the likeness of the Lord Jesus daily through the Holy Spirit to provide us abundant blessings for a joyful life in Divine presence. By letting go and looking ahead we surrender our will to God to let Him choose for us for He knows what is best for us.
Surrendering to Him is the only way to be and remain blessed!