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.

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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.

Theology in a Toy Store

A Toy Store in TrinomaA parent often suffers heartbreak in a toy store. Most especially when you see your child with rounded-eyes, caught up in excitement, asks you, “Can I have this dad?”

Every parent wants to own the toy store, when your kid is in it.  I wish I could say, “Grab all the things you want, to your heart’s content.” Toys! They bring so much joys to children. And toy stores abound not really because of kids, but because parents pay the price of their existence.

 

But then, you go to calculate, perhaps with your limitations, you can’t afford to have all the toys you’d ever want your kids to have. First, you’d have to contend how much they would modify your budget, second the space they would deduct from your house. And then, when you think about it too, toys are a just passing fancy. One minute, your kid keeps quiet and behaved when you buy them, and then just a few hours or days, the kid has another hunger for another toy.

But still, on a toy store just recently, my eyes were almost wet and there was a lump on my throat. Seeing my kid wanting so much toys, I wanted to buy her all till she’s satisfied. But then I can’t. It’s all too much for the current budget. I’m sure every common parent must have had that dilemma.

And then I remembered, Jesus the Lord,

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Mat 7:11 ESV)”

As far as I can, I want to be a good father to my kids. But the deeper parts of me, I know I lack many things, sinner that I am.  But as I was gazing my child in a toy store, wanting to bring so much for her because I know that those things would make her happy, I was transfixed with the thought of how God the Father would bring so much joy to us, when He gives us all things, when even ultimately He would give us all of Him, yes Himself, because of Christ’s work.

As Science channels tells us how infinite the universe is, can you imagine How much more infinite the Maker of it is?  In fact, the word infinite is an understatement. He would bring us so much joy, much more than the universe can ever contain.  And that is so much true, even as much as a universe truer than as much as I want to buy all the things my kid wants in a toy store.

In the meantime, there is so much suffering in this life, I know.  And so as when it was in the time of the Apostle Paul.  But I always tell myself this is oh so true because I can feel its truth, standing as a father to my kid in a toy store.

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Rom 8:32 ESV)

In the meantime, we wait as kids. And tell you what: one afternoon, 2000 years ago, thru someone’s bloody hands, our Father has already paid the cost of everything.