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I can relate to this little guy—always thinking about food! Thanks to Sandra for this cute story:
In preschool, Miss Sarah asked the class if they knew where Jesus went to pray with his disciples before he died on the cross.
My four year old David cried out, “Olive Garden!”
Janelle for the girltalkers
The other day I was speaking with a friend about suffering. She told me that she still doesn’t understand why God allowed her dad to die so soon, but what helps her, what she goes back to in times of doubt, is that God is good. This is the truth she rests in.
And this is the truth that has always sustained Christians in difficult circumstances, including Nancy Guthrie, who has edited a new series of “25 classic and contemporary readings on the problem of pain” entitled, Be Still My Soul.
This book includes thoughts from great theologians who have walked through dark valleys, such as Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, Jerry Bridges and Sinclair Ferguson; and women such as Corrie Ten Boom and Joni Eareckson Tada share what God has taught them through suffering.
In one chapter, Os Guiness describes the foundation of our trust in God:
“Christians do not say, ‘I do not understand you at all, but I trust you anyway.’ Rather, we say, ‘I do not understand you in this situation, but I understand why I trust you anyway. Therefore I can trust that you understand even though I don’t.’
If we do not know why we trust God in the beginning, then we will always need to know exactly what God is doing in order to trust him. Failing to grasp that, we may not be able to continue trusting him, for anything we do not understand may count decisively against what we are able to trust.
If, on the other hand, we do know why we trust God, we will be able to trust him in situations where we do not understand what he is doing….Faith does not know why in terms of the immediate, but it knows why it trusts God who knows why in terms of the ultimate.”
Why can we trust God even when we don’t understand the situation? Because Jesus “took on himself the full desolation of God’s silence so that after suffering in our place he might restore us to his Father, that then we might be sure that God is there and God is good.”
Whatever trial you are facing today, or will face in the future, may the truth of God’s goodness through Jesus Christ be your rest.
Jesus’ question—“what is that to you?”—is aimed to snap Peter out of his fixation with John’s story. He wants to protect Peter, and you and me, from sinful envy.
Envy (like all sin) robs us of peace. Think about it: have you ever met an envious person who was content, at ease, and happy? Have you ever envied and been at peace at the same time? I doubt it.
When we envy, we question, we fret, we wonder, we worry, we obsess. We are anything but peaceful. Jonathan Edwards describes this miserable condition:
“[A]n envious disposition is…most uncomfortable and uneasy to its possessor….It is like a powerful eating cancer, preying on the vitals, offensive and full of corruption. And it is the most foolish kind of self-injury; for the envious make themselves trouble most needlessly, being uncomfortable only because of others’ prosperity, when that prosperity does not injure themselves, or diminish their enjoyments or blessings. But they are not willing to enjoy what they have, because others are enjoying also (emphasis mine)”
Envy is sinful, foolish, and it makes us miserable. Left unchecked, it even takes a physical toll: “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot” (Prov. 14:30).
Jesus wants us to have a tranquil heart that gives life and health. He made peace for us (Eph 2:14), and He wants us to experience peace!
His question—“what is that to you?” is the rebuke of a loving Father. He wants to rescue us from envy and lead us in the path of peace.
Today we return to our story in John 21 to see how our Lord addressed Peter’s sinful comparison.
Immediately upon receiving the news of his future death, Peter turns to look at the other disciple, John, and asks: “Lord, what about this man?”
Jesus answers Peter’s question with a rhetorical question of his own: “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”
The obvious answer? Nothing. John’s future is none of Peter’s business.
CS Lewis may have had John 21 in mind in The Horse and His Boy when Aslan tells Shasta: “Child, I am telling you your own story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
Jesus doesn’t tell Peter what John’s story will be. He doesn’t say, “If it is my will that John die peacefully in exile on the Isle of Patmos, what is that to you?”
Instead, he suggests a far more dramatic possibility: “If it is my will that John live to see my return, that he escape death altogether, what is that to you?”
Basically: “if John’s life is as wonderful as you can possibly imagine, while yours is more difficult than you can comprehend, even so, what is that to you?
And so our Savior would ask us: “If it is my will that another woman receive the blessings you long for and don’t have, and escape the suffering you are destined for but don’t want, even so, what is that to you? I’m telling you your own story, not hers.”
This, as it turns out, is the most loving question Jesus could ask.
Jackie wrote: “After reading your current series on envy, boy did this sentence jump out at me”:
“For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up” (Mt. 27:18, emphasis mine).
Pilate knew why the Jewish leaders had brought Jesus to him. They weren’t concerned about the stability of the Roman empire—they envied Jesus’ popularity (ESV Study Bible).
Out of envy, they delivered up our Savior to be killed.
Out of envy, we crucify Him afresh (Heb. 6:6).
Out of mercy, He has saved us.
Out of mercy, He has forgiven us.
Out of mercy, He has set us free.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4-7).
May thy cross be to me
as the tree that sweetens my bitter Marahs,
as the rod that blossoms with life and beauty,
as the brazen serpent that calls forth the look of faith.
By thy cross crucify my every sin;
Use it to increase my intimacy with thyself;
Make it the ground of all my comfort,
the liveliness of all my duties,
the sum of all thy gospel promises,
the comfort of all my afflictions,
the vigour of my love, thankfulness, graces,
the very essence of my religion;
And by it give me that rest without rest,
the rest of ceaseless praise.
—The Valley of Vision