Steve Jobs and Our Finitude


AP File Photo

Steve Jobs just resigned hours ago. My computer is presently a Macbook Pro and honestly, I’ve been so happy with this piece of Steve Jobs. I admire what Steve Jobs has done with Apple. Somehow, the world over, Apple has transformed computing.

I’m still a PC user but I am now a Mac Convert since around two years ago. I don’t think the Apple hierarchy welcomed Jobs’ resignation.  However, Steve has to resign because of his battle with pancreatic cancer.

I wouldn’t want Steve to resign. I have no stakes in Apple, mind you. But the things that happened during his tenure were remarkable. If that is my feeling, I know much more so Steve Jobs, not to mention the Apple geeks. (Except perhaps the beneficiaries of Jobs’ resignation).

What has become apparent in all of these is that what we want is not really what happens most of the time. We can plan, we can act, we can dream, we can work our souls out, but in the end, it’s all in God’s hands. God can thwart all our grand plans and topple them, YES, even if you worked all your means to make sure it goes well.

If you don’t believe that, then let me remind you: Did you ever have a diarrhea during an important event in your life? Diarrhea can maim even an athlete so ready for his competition.

And that’s just diarrhea. I’ve even not started on pancreatic cancer yet.

Asking Without Receiving

On commenting on 2 Corinthians 12:8, John Calvin meditates on Paul not receiving his prayer request.

Here is the August 24 Reading excerpt from the book 365 Days with Calvin: A Unique Collection of 365 Readings from the Writings of John Calvin (356 Days with)

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Asking without Receiving
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 2 Corinthians 12:8
suggested further reading: Mark 14:32–42

It may seem from this text that Paul has not prayed in faith, for we read everywhere in Scripture that we shall obtain whatever we ask in faith. Paul prays, and does not obtain what he asks for.

I address this problem by saying that as there are different ways of asking, so there are different ways of obtaining. We ask in simple terms for those things for which we have an express promise. For example, we ask for the perfecting of God’s kingdom, the hallowing of his name (Matt. 6:9), the remission of our sins, and everything that is advantageous to us. But when we think that the kingdom of God can, indeed, must be advanced in this particular manner or in that, and what is necessary for the hallowing of his name, we are often mistaken in our opinion.

In like manner, we often commit a serious mistake about asking for what tends to promote our own welfare. We ask for things confidently and without reservation, while we do not have the right to prescribe the means for receiving them. If, however, we specify the means, we always have an implied condition, even though we don’t express it.

Paul was not ignorant about this. Hence, as to the object of his prayer, there can be no doubt that he was heard, though he met with a refusal as to the express form of that answer. By this we are admonished not to give way to despondency in thinking our prayers are lost labor when God does not gratify or comply with our wishes. Rather, we must be satisfied with his grace in not forsaking us. For the reason why God sometimes mercifully refuses to give his own people what in his wrath he grants to the wicked is that he better foresees what is expedient for us than our understanding is able to apprehend.

for meditation: Even with the knowledge that God knows best, it is difficult to submit to his will when our prayers seem to go unanswered. We must pray for the grace to will what God wills and to leave it to his wisdom how he brings his will about. Are you trusting him with all your current concerns?

Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin: A Unique Collection of 365 Readings from the Writings of John Calvin (356 Days with)(page 255). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

Hannah’s Prayer 02

Continuing the interest triggered by Hannah’s prayer, I read some commentaries on it and here are interesting insights.

We start with Charles Spurgeon:

Her deliverance seemed to her to be a type and symbol of the way in which God delivers all his people, so she rejoiced in that great salvation which he works out for his people as a whole.

Charles H. Spurgeon, vol. 57, Spurgeon’s Sermons: Volume 57, electronic ed., Logos Library System; Spurgeon’s Sermons (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1998).

The theme of reversal is also emphasized in Hannah’s prayer.

The birth stories of John and Jesus belong to the long tradition of birth stories in the OT and in Jewish literature… Prominent among these stories is the motif of barrenness. This appears in the stories of Sarah (Gen. 18), Rebekah (Gen. 25), Rachel (Gen. 30), the mother of Samson (Judg. 13), and Hannah (1 Sam. 1–2). Not only are these stories concerned with the reversal of the fortune of the individual barren women, but also the births of the heroes are linked with the fulfillment of God’s covenantal promises to Israel. The presence of God for his people is therefore the underlying theme behind these narratives.

G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 255 (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos, 2007).

Davis in his commentary on Samuel gave this insight.

What Yahweh has done for Hannah simply reflects the tendency of his ways. When John Calvin had suffered the death of his wife Idelette, he wrote his friend William Farel: “May the Lord Jesus … support me … under this heavy affliction, which would certainly have overcome me, had not He, who raises up the prostrate, strengthens the weak, and refreshes the weary, stretched forth His hand from heaven to me.” Calvin was saying he would surely have been crushed but he knew a Lord who raises up the prostrate, strengthens the weak, and refreshes the weary—and that Lord had again acted in character in Calvin’s grief. That is what Hannah is saying here. I was ready to fall and Yahweh gave me strength; I was barren and he made me fruitful; I was poor and he made me rich. But that is not really surprising, for that is just the way Yahweh is (vv. 4–8)!

Dale Ralph Davis, 1 Samuel: Looking on the Heart, Focus on the Bible Commentary, 23 (Scotland: Christian Focus

Publications, 2000).

And finally, the Lutheran study Bible brings this to the fore:
Hannah exults that God has fulfilled His Word. Her prayer stands as a warning to us when we are tempted to trust in our own strength, beauty, wealth, or intelligence. Her prayer also gives us encouragement to look to God for every good thing that we need in life, confident that He will fulfill our deepest desires in eternity through His Anointed One, Jesus Christ.

Hannah’s Prayer and The Power of God

In today’s Bible Reading, I came upon the prayer of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2. I will let the whole prayer speak for itself. It’s a handcuff. It makes you stay in your corner, tapes your mouth and forces you to think.

1 Samuel 2:1 And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the LORD; my strength is exalted in the LORD. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation.
2 “There is none holy like the LORD; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.
3 Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
4 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength.
5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.
6 The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
7 The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.
8 He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and on them he has set the world.
9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail.
10 The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the power of his anointed.”

(1Sa 2:1-10 ESV)

Reflect, my friend. More on this tomorrow.

God’s People in the Furnace

On commenting on “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah 48:10, Charles Spurgeon shares comfort to those who have been elected.

Here is the August 12 Reading excerpt from the book, 365 Days with C H Spurgeon, Volume 1: A Unique Collection of 365 Daily Readings from Sermons Preached by Charles Haddon Spurgeon from His New Park Street Pulpit

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God’s People in the Furnace

“I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”
Isaiah 48:10
suggested further reading: Isaiah 43:1–7

Beloved, the first thing I will give you is the comfort of the text itself—election. Comfort yourself with this thought: God says, “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” “The fire is hot, but he has chosen me; the furnace burns, but he has chosen me; these coals are hot, I do not love the place, but he has chosen me.” Ah! It comes like a soft gale assuaging the fury of the flame. It is like some gentle wind fanning the cheeks; yes, this one thought arrays us in fireproof armour, against which the heat has no power. “Let affliction come—God has chosen me. Poverty, you may come in at the door—God is in the house already, and he has chosen me. Sickness, you may come, but I will have this by my side for a balsam—God has chosen me. Whatever it is, I know that he has chosen me.” The next comfort is that you have the Son of man with you in the furnace. In that silent bedchamber of yours, there sits by your side one whom you have not seen, but whom you love; and often when you know it not, he makes your bed in your affliction, and smooths your pillow for you. You are in poverty; but in that lonely house of yours that has nothing to cover its bare walls, where you sleep on a miserable straw mattress, you know that the Lord of life and glory is a frequent visitor; he often treads those bare floors, and putting his hands upon those walls he consecrates them! If you were in a palace he might not come there. He loves to come into these desolate places that he may visit you. The Son of man is with you, Christian.

Are Adversities in Life Punishments from God?

On commenting on Romans 8:35, John Calvin meditates whether adversities are God’s punishments on us.

Here is the August 5 Reading excerpt from the book 365 Days with Calvin: A Unique Collection of 365 Readings from the Writings of John Calvin (356 Days with)

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Shining in Affliction

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Romans 8:35

Those who are persuaded of God’s kindness toward them are able to stand firm in the heaviest afflictions. But people are also harassed by afflictions in no small degree for various reasons; some interpret afflictions as tokens of God’s wrath, while some think afflictions prove they are forsaken by God. Some see no end to trials and neglect to meditate on a better life. When the mind is purged from such mistakes, it becomes calm and quietly rests.

The meaning of this text is that, whatever happens, we ought to stand firm in believing that God, who having once embraced us in love, never ceases to care for us. The apostle does not simply say that nothing can tear God away from loving us, but that the knowledge and lively sense of God’s love is so vigorous in our hearts that it shines in the darkness of afflictions. For as clouds may obscure the clear brightness of the sun, yet do not yet wholly deprive us of its light, so God sends forth through the darkness of adversities the rays of his favor lest temptations should overwhelm us with despair. Indeed, our faith, supported by God’s promises, as if by wings, makes its way upward to heaven through all intervening obstacles.

It is true that adversities are tokens of God’s wrath when viewed in themselves, but when pardon and reconciliation precede them, we may be assured that though God chastises us, he never forgets his mercy. Adversity reminds us of what we have deserved, yet it also testifies that our salvation is the object of God’s care, which he extends to us while he leads us to repentance.

Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin: A Unique Collection of 365 Readings from the Writings of John Calvin (356 Days with)(page 236). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.