Hebrews 10:37 For you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised.
A friend of mine is recovering from a serious injury. She spent months in physical therapy, learning first to stand and sit again, to walk with a walker and then with a cane. She does exercises which are designed to strengthen her muscles; the therapists tell her that her pain will diminish as her muscles strengthen.
And she finds that this is true: slowly but surely, she is getting better. She can now walk long distances, and she has just begun riding a bicycle again. At first, she could not ride the bike up the gentle slope of her driveway. She would have to dismount and walk it up. It was discouraging, not being able to go up such a little hill. She kept trying; she’d go a few yards up before her strength failed. Then a few yards more. Then halfway. Finally one day, she sailed up the drive, ringing her little bicycle bell in triumph.
Nothing comes to us overnight. God calls us to a life of faith, not a life of magic. When we grow in patience and perseverance, we grow spiritually stronger. That which seemed impossible to us at first grows possible as we endure in hopeful fidelity to God’s plan. God does not test us hoping we will fail. God strengthens and encourages us, willing our good.
This meditation, originally published in Forward Day by Day in 1995, was featured in our 75th Anniversary edition in 2010.
Luke 17:11-17 He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.
I remember the importance my mother put on writing thank-you letters and saying “Thank you” after a party. I recall thinking as a youngster that she made too much of it. I identified with the small boy who said after a party, “My mother told me to tell you I had a very nice time.”
Now that I’m grown up, I realize how important gratitude is. The name of our central service of worship—the eucharist—means “thank you” in Greek. As a psychotherapist, I realize that the cornerstone of mental health is a thank-you attitude toward life, even in the midst of pain and less. Unhealthy is a whining “I deserve better than this; it’s not fair” even in the midst of plenty. The ability to give thanks is a watershed of spiritual and mental health. To find a thank-you in your heart toward the Author of life is true worship.
Reflect on the area of your life which is causing you pain right now. Can you stay with the pain for a moment and sincerely say “Thank you” for something you have discovered within it? In doing so, you have just celebrated eucharist in your own heart.
P.S. Thanks, Mom. (1995)
Luke 18:9-14. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.
We all have our yardsticks for judging others’ faith: “I heard that they tithe;” “He was a senior warden;” “They go to church every day;” “She’s a priest.” Measurements can either make us feel superior or guilty; you can always find someone worse or better than yourself. The result of these comparisons is always the same: paralysis. We either convince ourselves that we are doing well and don’t need to change, or guilt forces us to leave religion to the religious or to wallow in self-pity.
Of course, only God knows what is inside, and God isn’t keeping that kind of scorecard. Trying to judge other’s faith solely through their external piety is just as foolish as thinking that if we do enough “good” things, God will have to let us into heaven. We aren’t saved by anything measurable, rather by the immeasurable love of Christ on the cross. Our part in it is to have faith, and that faith can bear fruit without effort or worry. Christ came to set us free from the bondage of sin; we need to step outside our cells.
Luke 13:31-35. Jesus said, I must be on my way today and tomorrow and the next day.
There is about Our Lord a sense of continuous travelling. It is not a frantic restlessness but a controlled and purposeful journeying. Again and again we read of him in terms of “the way.” There is very little element of a fixed abode.
We can transfer that into the interior world of our spirituality. Our spirituality must be a living reality, ready to be mobile rather than static, ready to do a great deal of mental and spiritual travelling and exploration. To do that we certainly do need spiritual bases. Jesus had them for his travels. There was Bethany, there was Capernaum, there were quiet hillsides, even the desert. Being a Christian today means possessing these two elements of spirituality. Faith is, by paradox, both a point of arrival and a staging post for further journey.
Turn, follow, learn, pray,
Serve, share, the disciple’s way
Weary find your rest in him
Whose worship is the pilgrim’s inn.
Pray for the sick and for God’s guidance to know what you can do to assist their healing.
This was the Forward Day by Day meditation on July 8, 1965. It is titled What Draws People to Christ.
A great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.
People were drawn in droves to Jesus, not by the charming stories He told, but by the “great things he did”: healing sick bodies and minds, picking up fallen sinners and setting them on their feet, raising dead souls to life.
His Church today will do well to note this fact. We want the whole world to come to Christ in His Church. And the divine Head of the Church tells us to go forth in the power of His Name and do His works. Preaching His Gospel in words has its essential place. Jesus Himself came preaching. But He did more than talk: He acted. This was what drew the great multitude to Him. And this is what will draw the world to Him today: our doing things by His power.
We can, if we will. He gives us money, influence, opportunity, all necessary assets for the doing of His mighty works. When we do them, zealously, sacrificially, the world sees Christ working through us: and it turns to Him.