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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, April 3, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Malachi 3:1–4

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. (NRSV)

I think this passage highlights some of how God chooses to be with us. God accepts and loves each of us in all our imperfection, for God’s love is steadfast. God sticks with us, like a loving parent, dedicated coach, and determined teacher. God grows us towards a more just existence, purifying and refining us, “until [we] present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.” Through God, we change for the better.

We improve with each of life’s lessons God prepares for us. The lessons may be unexpected, sometimes unwanted, and other times downright difficult and painful: loss of life, broken relationships, disease, jealousy, violence, deceit, and so on. Yet sometimes what we most need is not what’s easiest and comfortable but instead what forces our hearts to reconsider and our eyes to open beyond our narrow visions of self. I believe life’s times of trial are tests of faith. “But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?” Perhaps the adversity we endure today is what enables us to stand before God when the time comes.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “God comes into the very midst of evil and of death and judges the evil in us and in the world. And by judging us, God cleanses and sanctifies us, comes to us with grace and love.”

God’s judgment is also God’s grace and love. It is in this strange duality that we are saved.

God, help me recognize and embrace your lessons. I pray that I may remain open to your purifying and refining ways. Amen.

Written by Jonathan Kent, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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