|“Because you are my help I sing |
in the shadow of your wings.”
Maybe you remember the childhood rhyme:
There’s music in a hammer;
There’s music in a nail.
There’s music in a kitty-cat
When you step upon her tail!
How often do we feel struck by a hammer in our lives? What kind of music do we make at such times? Over and over in Scripture we are reminded that, like our Savior suffered, we will suffer for His sake and for His purposes in our lives.
In Acts 14:22 we read what the early Apostles told their followers:
We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.
To be clear, that does not mean that our salvation comes to us because of our own patient endurance. No, our salvation comes to us as a precious gift from God, as we acknowledge our belief in God’s atoning sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, on the cross.
When we enter Heaven at last, all serious Christ-followers will be survivors of many trials, tests, and struggles. It’s all part of the sanctification process God guides us through on our way toward spiritual maturity. The product of our surrender to the “hammer” of God’s work comes alive in the song we sing while we suffer.
The story of Paul and Silas, recorded in Acts 16, tells of their beating, flogging, and imprisonment. We read these words in Acts 16:25:
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God.
They rejoiced in God’s will, not knowing whether they would live or die.
From the pen of a Puritan writer we read:
The greatest temptation out of hell is to live without trials. A pool of standing water will turn stagnant…Grace withers without adversity. You can’t sneak quietly into heaven without a cross. Crosses form us into his image. They cut away the pieces of our corruption. Lord cut, carve, wound; Lord do anything to perfect your image in us and make us fit for glory.” 1
But, what of the hammer? Isaiah 44:12 tells us:
The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it in the coals; he shapes an idol with hammers, he forges it with the might of his arm.
Our God plays the blacksmith to forge us into His shape. Jeremiah 23:9 tells us:
“Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?
Sometimes God’s hammer comes to us through the striking truth of His Word.
Has God ever convicted you of sin so sharply and painfully that you could not rest in your spirit until you confessed and made that right? God still uses the hammer on His people with the hopeful result that, when we arrive to meet Him, we can say with the Puritan:
O what I owe to the file, hammer, and furnace! 2
And not only does He desire us to suffer for His sake, but to sing under the weight of the trials that He might be glorified in us!
|1 From “The Loveliness of Christ” by Samuel Rutherford, as quoted in Rushing, Richard, editor. Voices from the Past. Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009. p. 261.|