As soon as we limit our future to some particular moment in this fleeting world we experience a vain form of anxiety. Our true future is eternal life with God in heaven, and if we aim our souls at that unending moment we are delivered from all fruitless forms of anxiety.
Providence liberates us from the suffering caused by our believing that we will not have what we really need, but it does not spare us from the suffering that is a balm for our selfishness and pride.
Even that suffering which is occasioned unjustly at the hands of the enemies and adversaries of God calls the heart of the believer to dwell in peace beyond this valley of tears. The citizens of heaven are not spared torments here below, but from the depths of their hearts they can freely unite themselves with the King of Peace.
For what condemned criminals can be so wretched as those who, once having God for their Lord, do from that mild rule desert to this grievous obsession for money? Even in this life such idolatry trails immense harm in its path, with losses unspeakable. Think of the lawsuits! The harassments, the strife and toil and blinding of the soul! More grievous, one falls away thereby from the highest blessing—to be God’s servant.1
Paul begged that the flesh’s thorn be removed from him, but he was not heard by the Lord. The devil prayed that he might strike Job with the harshest of disasters, and we know that this was subsequently granted him. But Paul was denied the fulfillment of his prayer for his glory, whereas the devil was granted his for the devil’s pain. Thus it is often an advantage not to be heard even though postponement of our desires depresses us.2
Accordingly, whether we have our requests granted or not, let us persist in asking and render thanks not only when we gain what we ask but also when we fail to. Failure to gain, you see, when that is what God wants, is not worse than succeeding; we do not know what is to our advantage in this regard in the way he does understand.3
We learn from this that even a wrong prayer will receive an answer, even if it does not get what it wants.4
SEVERIAN OF GABALA:
God’s power is made perfect in persecutions and sufferings.5
- THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 21.2. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (pp. 143–144). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- EXPLANATION OF THE PSALMS 21.3. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 305). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- HOMILIES ON GENESIS 30.16. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 306). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- COMMENTARY ON THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS 12. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 307). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- PAULINE COMMENTARY FROM THE GREEK CHURCH. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 307). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.