As many of you will know I am slowly working my way through a book called The Valley of Vision it is a book filled with profound, deep and insightful prayers from the Puritans. And whilst I do not agree with all that the Puritans did, I have been frequently flawed and brought closer to God in my times of prayer by reading through and praying along with them.
(How great it is to be part of such an amazing Church and cloud of witnesses!)
But recently, I have been struck by a line in the prayer:
‘If thy mercy make me poor and vile, blessed be thou!
[For] Prayers arising from my needs are preparations for future mercies’
Right now in life, my wife and I are experiencing such a season of material blessing. We both have jobs, disposable incomes, a roof over our heads, new furniture (A new bookshelf!), even a fancy coffee machine. We are blessed in our health, physically able to do most of what we want and need to do in life. We are blessed in our relationships with family, friends and Church.
It really is something to be grateful for!
And yet, Biblical faith calls us to worship God in the midst of trial as well as triumph.
This test came rather embarrassingly for me with the arrival of a new webcam. I was setting up the camera on my monitor at home in preparation for a meeting. Vain person that I am, I wanted to check the lighting in the room, and that the camera was well-positioned. And then I saw, the camera was programmed in such a way, to highlight all the imperfections in my complexion. (AKA: make bright red a spot on my forehead!). Now, I looked in the mirror and the spot didn’t look too bad, it was a faded red. But on the camera…wow, that thing was difficult to ignore.
I became a little self-conscious and embarrassed, even considered not using a camera for the meeting and just using audio.
But then I remembered this prayer, ‘if You make me poor and vile…I will bless you. For prayers arising from needs are preparations for future mercies’.
And I started to thank God, for using this moment of (embarrassingly minuscule) trial to call me to lean upon His mercies.
In that moment I needed to remember to bless God, even though I felt “vile”. In that moment I needed to receive His mercy, not just to give me confidence when my physical appearance wasn’t doing it, but also because this moment of insecurity had revealed to me how much confidence and pride I was taking in my appearance. My confidence should have always rested upon God and His verdict over me. Not my complexion, not my webcam set-up, not my possessions or even my preparation for the meeting. On God and God alone.
In that moment I felt a need, and God supplied mercy.
If thy mercy make me poor and vile, blessed be thou!
[For] Prayers arising from my needs are preparations for future mercies