"Blessed Assurance" -- It’s one of my favorite hymns, but it’s so much more – this blessed assurance.
“It has all the answers to your deepest questions!” the ad proclaims (amazon.com). As children, we asked our questions, turned the Magic 8 ball upside down and waited with great anticipation for the answer. “It is certain.” “Don’t count on it.” “Ask again later!” We put our faith in this toy.
Then there was the Ouija Board, created in 1891. The word looks like “we-ja,” but we always said “we-jee.” We placed our hands on the planchette, asked our questions and then waited for the device to begin to move mysteriously to letters, numbers and simple answers arrayed on the board. It was described as “the link between the known and the unknown, the material and the immaterial (Smithsonian.com October 27, 2013). We put our faith in this toy.
The horoscopes came next. Looking for the deeper suggestions of what my life might be, I put my faith in the stars, praying they would align to fulfill my heart-felt longings.
Then God met me, though he already knew me intimately, and called me to place my faith not in childish toys that tease with their promises of assurance but in his son, Jesus, who provided the ultimate answer to the intense need we all have to be assured of love and grace.
This blessed assurance has carried me through this walk of life, and though it provides no magic answers, it continues to point me to the one who created the stars and developed within me an ever-deepening sense of the difference between the known and the unknown, the material and the immaterial. This blessed assurance is sure and certain, and it was created and provided not by a toy manufacturer seeking profit but by a God seeking to infuse me with his mercy, his direction and his call to trust him in all things.
I do not always understand, but my daily intention is to trust this blessed assurance, most often by studying God’s word and treasuring it in my heart. It carries me through difficult times by reminding me that they are temporary and that they have purpose beyond my understanding. I see only the material, but God sees the eternal – both in my experiences and in his will for my life. I am called to trust the eternal God.
I draw comfort from Bible verses that provide reminders of this blessed assurance.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2 NASB).
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:1b-3a)
“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17)
At times, it is too tempting to mire ourselves in despair and self-pity. Those are the times when God reminds me, ever so gently and sometimes with a slight jab to the heart, that this life is not about me and my sufferings. It is about God and his glory. My life has been chosen to bring glory to him; to abandon that call, even when I fail, is to abandon his blessed assurance.
“For I consider that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).