Through Trouble to Laughter

Matthew 11:28

The people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations.” – 1 Samuel 8:19-20

God says:

I’m aware that things go wrong in your life, that family and friends don’t always treat you well, that nothing goes exactly as you want it to. I grieve with you over the pain that life causes you. But our priorities differ. 

You ask what will work to make your life better, to correct the injustice you suffer, to see to it that more things go as they should in your life.

I want you to ask what holiness would look like in your situation, whatever it is, holiness that might not right the wrongs you suffer but that would let us enjoy each other.

I tell Samuel’s story to let you see how Israel’s spiritual leaders, when they saw trouble brewing at the end of Samuel’s life, forgot Me – no, they rejected Me – and honored their own agenda to make life work according to their own wisdom. They insisted that Samuel appoint a human king, a king other than Me, to lead them. They wanted to fit in with the way other people ran their lives that seemed to be working for them. Israel had never had a king other than Me.

It hurts Me to see My people chase after a lesser good than knowing Me. It disturbs Me to watch them follow so-called proven methods to make good things happen and to value those managerial methods more than the holy and self-denying relating that pleases Me no matter what happens.

You will understand My central message in this letter when you understand the tragedy of asking for a king other than Me.

Following the ways of another may work for a season. It often leads to the shallow and short-lived laughter of pride in an accomplished agenda.

Following My ways will lead you through trouble and emptiness to real laughter, to the laughter that only persons in holy relationship can enjoy.

Take a Moment to Reflect

Think of a difficult situation you are facing. What comes to mind when you ask, “Father, what would holiness look like in this situation?” What are the “managerial methods” you are tempted to follow in your relationships? What would it look like to relate with self-denying holiness no matter what happens? Holiness is often defined as sinlessness. While it certainly includes that, how would you further define the term based on the reading?

Take a Moment to Pray

Father, would You help me discover the joy of holy relating that defines You? Too often, my ways involve trying to fix people and problems. Please give me a greater vision that involves self-denying love. I humbly ask in Jesus’ name, amen.

Excerpted with permission from God’s Love Letters to You by Dr. Larry Crabb, copyright Thomas Nelson, 2011.

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Your Turn

Don’t you ask God to right injustice, to solve problems, to take away suffering? It’s not in our human nature to prefer holiness over convenience and comfort. It’s amazing to realize that God wants to laugh with us! Pause and ask God to share with you His perspective, His agenda. Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you about holiness! ~ Devotionals Daily

Larry Crabb

Dr. Larry Crabb is a well-known psychologist, seminar speaker, Bible teacher, author, and founder/director of NewWay Ministries. He is also Scholar in Residence at Colorado Christian University, Professor for Richmont University in Georgia, and serves as Spiritual Director for the American Association of Christian Counselors.

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