Joni and Friends Blog

Ruthless Perfection

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice.”

—Isaiah 42:3

God bends us but never breaks us. This means that if I love God, suffering does not ultimately matter. Christ in me is what matters. Pain does not cease to be pain, but I can “rejoice in…sufferings” (Rom. 5:3) because the power of God in my life is greater than suffering’s vice grip can ever be. It reminds me of this poem by an anonymous author:

When God wants to drill a man, and thrill a man and skill a man,

When God wants to mold a man to play the noblest part,

When He yearns with all His heart to create so great and bold a man

That all the world should be amazed,

Watch His methods, watch His ways:

How He ruthlessly perfects whom He royally elects;

How He hammers him and hurts him,

And with mighty blows converts him into shapes and forms of clay

Which only God can understand,

While man’s tortured heart is crying and he lifts beseeching hands;

Yet God bends but never breaks when man’s good He undertakes;

How He uses whom He chooses,

And with mighty power infuses him,

With every act induced him to try His splendor out,

God knows what He’s about.4

As Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of l Corinthians 10:13 says, “All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it” (THE MESSAGE). In other words, a bruised reed he will not break.

So “dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13).

Your power in my life, God, is greater than sufferings grip can ever be. Help me to believe that. Help me to live it.

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