Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Bible in a Year - Day 4

Genesis 9, 10 & 11; Matthew 4

How apt that I should read God's Covenant with Noah while outside it is grey and bleak and pouring down with rain. It was sunny yesterday, after what has felt like weeks of rain, but it's raining again today. Isn't it funny how just one day of rain can wash away all memory of the sunny days? There's something deep in that somewhere, isn't there. And perhaps it's just because I'm English, but when the sun comes, we make the absolute most of it because we fully expect rain to be just around the corner. Trouble will always come again.

One of my favourite songs is When the Rain Comes by Third Day. It has the beautiful line, I can't stop the rain, but I will hold you till it goes away. Sometimes the bad stuff just has to happen. We may not understand it, now or ever, but we can be sure that our Heavenly Father is holding us through it. It must have been so desolate and heartbreaking for Noah and his family, looking out day after day at rain, then at the flood waters, waiting for God to reveal land again, and knowing that they alone were left of all human beings around. As a carless mum at home with our Squirrel Monkey, I am aware of how lonely and isolating rainy days can be. In the same way, our troubles can isolate us. No one feels how we feel, understands what we're going through or can share our grief. Nobody knows the trouble I've seen; nobody knows but Jesus. But God will hold us until it goes away.

Through the months of rain and flooding, Noah and his family were held, protected, lifted up by the ark God had had them build. And they ended up on top of a mountain. Their trouble raised them up.

When it was all over God made His promise, a covenant with Noah and all future mankind, and with every creature living on the earth: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth. (Genesis 9:11) And He made this promise despite knowing that we human beings would mess up over and over again. Never again will I curse the ground because of human beings, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. (Genesis 8:21) Whenever we see a rainbow we get that reminder. And remember, we can't see the rainbow without both rain and sun.

A rainbow we spotted on our honeymoon

In Matthew 4 we read of Jesus' temptation in the desert. I always find it very reassuring that Jesus had the opportunity, and the ability to do wrong. There would be no point in His being perfect if He could only be perfect, if He was unable to give in to temptation, because how could we ever live up to that? But God sent His Son to be fully God AND fully human. As a human, Jesus was just like us - He could sin. But, with the power of the Holy Spirit in Him, and the knowledge that comes from God's Word, He was able to resist. And so, as humans, we too are able to resist sin with God's help. If Jesus could, so can we.

God's love for us is so great that He gives us chance after chance to make good, to do right. And God's love for us is so great that He sent His son to die for us so that we might be forgiven for those times when we don't resist temptation, when we give in to wrongdoing.

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