Trials Cause Us to Bloom
Monday of Pentecost 21
15 October 2018
God will not forsake His people. Even, and especially, in the midst of trial the Lord is near. The trial itself drives us into His arms. In Houston, we can have torrential rains and hurricanes caused by tropical weather patterns. After the soaking rains we had here in Houston over the month of September everything looks green. Lawns look better after the heat of summer which frazzles lawns and landscaping plants. But a few days after the rains, things sprout and bloom and grow. No one wants the tropical downpours. They can flood roads, delay traffic, leak into homes through aging roofs, and in extreme cases, cause homes and businesses to flood. Yet what a benefit follows the trials caused by torrential rains!
 
The trials sent to us by God work in the same way for us Christians. We do not look forward to the suffering that comes our way, but we must recognize that our suffering also results in real spiritual growth for us. We are shaped by the cross and die on it every day by contrition and repentance. What is the outcome for us? In that dying life is assured to us through the work of the Savior. The Apostle Paul speaks of this Christian growth in suffering: "We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Rm 5:3-5). We who are dry, brittle, and lifeless find ourselves watered by suffering into lively advocates for the life of God given in Jesus Christ.
 
In the midst of trial and suffering Jesus never leaves us alone. How could He? He has Himself suffered on the cross of Calvary. He knows what it is to suffer. He sends the holy angels to watch over us. God sent the holy angels to watch over Jacob who was afraid at the prospect of meeting his brother, Esau (Gn 32:1). We should not despair in the midst of trouble. The holy angels are with us. We should be all the more confident of God's care for us in the midst of great trouble, when we need it the most. He will never forsake us! Our trials will cause us to bloom.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"God leads and governs both the godly and ungodly. When all things already seem to be at the point of crashing into ruin, all hope and confidence is still not to be completely cast off. Wait, endure, and hold out! God is still living; the angels are ruling and defending. However much they seem to have forgotten their duty and the protection entrusted to them, in actuality they are nevertheless not remiss in their duty. But there is such a thing as temptation and trial, by which God exercises not only the godly but also the ungodly, although the ungodly certainly do not understand this. Similarly, in sudden wind and rain storms flashes of lightning threaten heaven and earth with the conflagration or ruin of the whole earth. But when the storm dies down, the earth sprouts forth and shows that the storm was of great benefit to fertility, however wild it was."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, 32.2
Genesis 31:55-32:2

Early in the morning Laban arose and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned home.
 
Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them he said, "This is God's camp!" So he called the name of that place Mahanaim. (ESV)
Prayer
O Lord, You send the rain and storm to test our faith and force us to trust in You, rather than in ourselves. Send the holy angels to watch over us. Cause our faith to grow in your merciful care as we await Your visitation. Amen.
 
For all those recovering from the onslaught of Hurricane Michael, that God the Lord would guard and keep them
 
For relief workers, National Guardsmen, Police, Firefighters, and medical workers, that God our heavenly Father would watch over them and give them strength in trial
 
For faithful proclaimers of the Word of God, that they may be upheld in their office by Christ who leads the company of the preachers
 
For Scott and Maryann Murray, who are celebrating the 35th wedding anniversary today, that they and all married couples would have ever growing blessings in their marital lives
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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