Do you recall a time when unrestrained joy filled your soul to the brim? Who or what generated such exuberance?
Have you gleaned a truth from God’s Word that burst through your mind, flooding your heart to such extent that you cried aloud with joy and uttered spontaneous praises to God?
Here’s a story of how the Holy Spirit used one word in a Bible verse to transform one man’s burden into a blessing.
Recently, I had a long conversation with a friend who is a pastor. We discussed insights from God’s Word that had encouraged us during difficult times. He told a story that captivated me. I identified with elements of his story. He said I could share the incident with you as long as I hide his and his daughter’s identity.
If God’s Spirit speaks a reassuring word to you as He did to me, you’ll be glad, very glad, that you read this post. The insight you’ll discover has applicability far beyond the father-daughter relationship.
I’m writing it in the first person because the story packs more wallop that way. Not all the words I employ constitute the precise words he used in our conversation, but he agrees that I capture the essence of everything he told me.
I don’t recall why my daughter and I argued, but I vividly remember how I felt afterward: hurt, frustrated, defeated, hopeless. We didn’t scream at each other, but our voices got edgy. I retreated to my bedroom, where I tried to read a novel, hindered by cracks zigzagging across my heart and tears pouring down my cheeks. The pages of a book don’t turn as easily when they’re wet. This wasn’t the first tense encounter that we had experienced.
In retrospect, I blame myself for the verbal altercation. I’m well-read on a disorder she has that affects social interactions. I’m aware that someone with her disorder thinks rigidly and fails to notice or to respond appropriately to another person’s nonverbal cues. I’ve also seen the research that says someone with her condition cannot tolerate a raised voice. Yet that Friday evening, in a vain attempt to prove a point to her, I elevated mine a couple of decibels. No matter how logical my point might have been, she couldn’t possibly receive it due to the tone with which I conveyed it. I should have disengaged from the conversation much sooner.
Oh, how much easier it is to know something than it is to apply that knowledge in the heat of the moment! Knowledge is one thing; wisdom is another thing altogether. It is especially difficult to respond wisely when the interaction arouses strong emotions.
I grieved over the tension between us. Yet due to how sad I felt that evening, I temporarily lost sight of the love and respect she had demonstrated toward me on numerous occasions.
The day after the friction with my daughter, I pored over John Stott’s commentary on Romans 8:30, my text for the next day’s sermon: “Whom He predestined, these He also called, these He also justified, and whom He justified, He also glorified.”
I had finished my message outline and thought I had a pretty good grasp of the text’s truths, but I wanted to read a respected commentator’s take on the text in order to check my conclusions and to deepen my grasp of the verse. When I had camped out in verse 30 during the week, I felt delight at seeing God’s initiative in calling me to salvation. I had been “dead in my trespasses and sins,” yet God had acted mercifully and “made me alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:1-5). Since I can’t take the credit for choosing the Lord, I praised Him for His choice of me!
The term “justification” massaged my soul as well. I thanked God profusely because He credited Jesus’ righteousness to my account when I had put my faith in His death for my sins. I reveled in the fact that my acceptance before God isn’t based on my performance, but Christ’s.
But the insight that injected hope into my heart that Saturday centered on the word “glorified” in verse 30. As I examined Stott’s word study, tears gushed from me and I cried aloud. These were tears of undiluted joy! My boisterous prayers of gratitude reverberated off the walls of my office. Out loud praise to God spewed from my lips.
“Glorified” refers to the perfect state after we are with the Lord. Glorification means that when this life ends for us, sinful and immature habits of thought or action won’t hamstring us. In heaven, the imperfections in us that make relationships difficult won’t hamper us anymore.
Stott pointed out that the verb “glorified” in verse 30 is in the past tense, the same as “predestined,” “called,” and “justified.” Yet Paul, author of Romans, was referring to a state that has not yet occurred! He employed what scholars call the “prophetic past tense,” implying that the truth of glorification is so certain for Christ’s followers that in God’s eyes, it is already history.
As I meditated on that verb tense, God whispered, “Brad, (not his real name), you and your daughter know Me and believe in Me. The day is coming when there will be no more friction between you. No more overreactions or false assumptions or limitations caused by sin, nor frustrations prompted by physical or emotional disorders. You will enjoy one another and communicate like you aren’t able to do now. Depend on it, Brad. It’s as sure as all that is in the past.”
Though I didn’t convey the details pertaining to my daughter during the sermon, I spoke with more passion than usual that Sunday. The Holy Spirit had filtered a key truth through my personal experience.
This insight doesn’t mean I will never again feel frustration in our relationship. The hope of eventual glorification won’t keep me from working on and praying for better communication with her in the here and now. And while I can’t wait to experience an unhindered relationship with her, I’ll keep asking God to give me the grace to change so she and I can experience in this life at least a foretaste of glorification for our relationship.
My friend’s story kindled tears in me as well. The insight he shared is enough to make any discouraged person weep for joy.
What difficult relationship or situation are you facing that your sin or immaturity shackles?
What effect should “glorified” in Romans 8:30 exert on your current emotional state or attitude?
If you’re a lay Bible teacher or a vocational Christian worker who communicates God’s Word, ask Him to build into your life each message that you plan to share publicly. If what we teach challenges or reassures us, God’s truth will exert more impact on those who hear us.