THE SERVANT GENERAL
WAY FORWARD IN CHRIST
LININGS IN DARK CLOUDS
gospel: Luke 15:1-3,11-32
today’s parable, we encounter the prodigal son. He went
from the heights and plunged to the depths. From riches to
penury. From a life of power and pleasure to a life of dire
need. From the security of a good home to the insecurity of
being all alone in a challenging world. From the dignity of
being a son of a rich man to the abasement and humiliation
of being a Jew working with pigs. From a life of excessive
profligacy to a life of extreme hunger.
we know the story. He went back to his father and was restored
as the father’s son. He was dead but now lived. He was
lost but now found. He was in the depths but has soared back
to the heights.
the Bible, we see many such stories of those who have gone
from the depths to the heights.
is Joseph, who was sold by his brothers to slave traders,
and was separated from his father who loved him most, who
mourned him as dead. He was put in the dungeon upon the false
claims of his master’s wife. But he interpreted Pharaoh’s
dream, and Pharaoh made him his second-in-command. Of all
Egypt! Then his whole clan moved to Egypt, where they prospered.
is Israel itself, which was enslaved by Pharaoh for 400 years.
They labored in cruel servitude. But God liberated them through
Moses, and eventually gave them the promised land.
is Job, who suffered the loss of everything at the hands of
Satan. But ultimately God restored his family and prosperity,
giving him double what he had before.
there is Jesus himself. He was betrayed by Judas, denied by
Peter, abandoned by his disciples, tortured by the Romans,
rejected by the Jews, jeered at by the people. He even felt
forsaken by his Father. He died on the cross as a criminal.
But on the third day he rose in glory.
things do happen in life. This is inevitable. At times it
is due to our own fault. At other times, we have no fault
at all. At times we make wrong decisions. At other times,
others make wrong decisions that affect us. Depending on the
gravity of the bad happening, we experience a range of negative
emotionsfrom getting peeved, to being angry, to being
sad, to despairing. At times, what happens is really bad,
plunging us to the depths. Many cannot cope. They carry the
burden for years. They grow sick. Some even take their own
it ought to be different for a Christian. We do not deliberately
do things to make these negatives happen, but they do. So
I say, do not be overly concerned about it. Our concern should
be that we are able to get through the negatives of life,
for us to get to a point where, whatever happens, we are secure
and intact in our dignity and faith. And better for having
are able to do this by holding on to one particular promise
of God. “We know that all things work for good for those
who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”
(Rom 8:28). If two conditions are satisfied, then whatever
happens, all things will work for our good. The two conditions
are: (1) that you love God, and (2) that you act and live
according to God’s purpose for you. That should not
be a big challenge. So all things will work out. We just need
to endure and persevere. And maintain our joy.
are times when we might not necessarily be plunged into the
depths, but we might have great disappointments in life. Especially
as we serve the Lord.
think of that great man, Moses. Used by God to liberate His
people from slavery in Egypt. He cared for this unruly and
rebellious bunch for 40 years in the desert. He endured all
kinds of hardships, including his own brother Aaron and sister
Miriam speaking against him. What kept him going was the dream
of the promised land. Then, on the verge of entry into the
promised land, God told him he would not cross over! God even
brought him to Mount Nebo and showed him the land, which his
undimmed eyes could see very well.
any of your disappointments surpass that of Moses?
did God treat His faithful servant Moses in this way? Why
does God treat us in such ways at times? Why does God allow
us to wallow in the depths? If all things work for our good,
then God always has a good purpose.
what might be the silver linings in dark clouds. What might
God be wanting to teach us when bad things happen?
*Failed at a task? Endure and persevere.
*Lost a valuable thing? Appreciate what you have.
*Financial setback? Live a simpler lifestyle.
*Taken advantage of by another? Deny yourself.
*Shamed in some way? Be humbled.
*Wronged by a friend or confrere? Forgive and be merciful.
*Maligned and persecuted? Go the way of the prophets!
*Assaulted by an enemy? Love your enemy.
*Death of a loved one? Be mindful of your eternal destination.
You see the point. If we strive to live an authentic life
in Christ, then all things will work for our good. There will
be pain and suffering, but again, all for our good. So we
look beyond the negative, to whatever positive God has in
store for us. We trust that in every dark cloud there will
be a silver lining. The dark of night will always give way
to the light of day.
we do not experience the heights in this life, then we will
in the next. We literally can look forward to the heights
of heaven. We literally can look forward to a bright future,
for “night will be no more, nor will they need light
from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light,
and they shall reign forever and ever.” (Rev 22:5).
* * *