DayBreaks for 01/03/19: Smiley Face Stickers and the Cross

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DayBreaks for 01/03/2019: Smiley Face Stickers and the Cross

From the DayBreaks Archive, 01/01/99, by Tim Dalrymple:

A verse that has been haunting my thoughts recently is Mark 15:34: And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ I had always found this passage extremely disturbing. Could it be? Jesus was left alone, abandoned, forsaken, precisely when he needed the Father most. In his moment of deepest pain and agony, Jesus could not feel the comforting presence and gentle embrace of his Father. Certainly, in the theological sense, Jesus was not abandoned by the Father, the Father still loved him, and didn’t cast him out of His grace. But, at the least, Jesus felt a frightening and agonizing distance from his Father when he was on the cross.

Although this passage always disturbed and even scared me, I’ve come to consider it one of the most profound in all of Scripture. It tells me that when we hear, “By his stripes we are healed”, we should remember that his “stripes” were both physical and spiritual. We do not see a tranquil, dispassionate Jesus easily enduring physical suffering. Jesus comprehends more than just my physical pain – he comprehends my loneliness and abandonment as well.

It would be easy to brush aside this passage, and like a good American, paste a smiley-face sticker on the cross. But this is very dangerous. There is definitely something beautiful in the cross, for it is a profound demonstration of the depth of God’s love for us.

There is also, however, something very terrible: the suffering and abandonment of a crucified God. We gild our crosses with gold and we wreath them with roses, but we should never forget that the cross is, in the final analysis, an extraordinarily ugly and painful thing.

To wipe away the blood from the cross, to polish away the splinters, is to divest the cross of its incredible power. We should never rob the cross of its ugliness and pain, because it is precisely through that ugliness and pain that Jesus identified with, and overcame, our ugliness and pain. We will never walk further (or even as far) down the path of suffering and abandonment than Jesus walked. There is no extent of pain, loneliness, even distance from God, that Jesus cannot understand. It is because of his excruciating suffering that he is ‘God with us’ when we are facing trials. It is because of his sense of abandonment – by the disciples and by the Father – that he is ‘God with us’ even when we are most lonely and forsaken. Jesus walked the length of the path of physical and spiritual suffering so that he could be with you every step of the way. And you’ll never walk further than he can walk with you.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, we thank you for walking with us and for carrying us when we have no strength of our own, and for the amazing demonstration of love that took place on the cross.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 11/20/18 – With Natural Affection

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DayBreaks for 11/20/18: With Natural Affection

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

I heard the most disturbing thing on the radio today while I was driving in the car.  I almost stopped to weep when I hear it.  But first, let me give you a little background.

You may recall that in the past few years, several states have passed legislation that allows parents to bring a newborn to a hospital where the unwanted child can be left – no questions asked.  The intent, I’m sure, was good: that if the parent is unable or unwilling to care for the infant, at least it will have proper care, nutrition and a chance to be adopted and raised in a loving home.  I understand that – to some degree.  In some cases, the law was written that the child must be dropped off within 72 hours or so of being born. 

But, apparently, some of those laws were apparently written in such a way that it just says that parents can drop off their child at the hospital.  What I heard today was a report from some Nebraska, which has started having parents drop off children up through their late teens.  In some cases, they reported that the children could be heard saying to their mother, “Please, mom.  I promise to be good.  I won’t be any trouble.”  Can you imagine?  Can you even begin to imagine what it would do to a child to have your mom or dad or both drop you off at a hospital just because they don’t want you any more?  My heart breaks…

So, before our very eyes, we have seen these words come to pass, from 2 Timothy 3:1-4 (KJV): This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God…”

Doesn’t the actions of those who would abandon their children fit the description of “without natural affection”?  Doesn’t it sound like these are “lovers of their own selves” who are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God”?  (Again, I am not interested here in having a political or cultural discussion about why in some cases it may be better for the baby.)  I can’t help but wonder if some of these parents are abandoning their children just so the parents don’t have the hassle of raising a teen. 

I am so grateful that our Father is not the kind of parent who will abandon us – even in our most rebellious times.  I think that, giving our sinfulness, it may be “unnatural affection” that He loves us – but it is Divine affection, the love of a Creator for His creation.  And God can’t help but love us, in spite of hating what we sometimes do.  He just loves us.  It is His natural affection for us caused him to say, in Hebrews 13:5b (NLT) – …For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never forsake you.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, that You are far better than us.  Give us the kind of love for our children that You have for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>