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Posts Tagged ‘Merlin Carothers’

I am not poor. Of course, I’m working on it, what with spiraling debt and fruitless planning. But, in the greater scheme of things and the world at large, I am quite flush and comfortable. So, who am I speak about the promises of God for the poor?

Psalm 69:30, 32
I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. . . . The poor will see and be glad — you who seek God, may your hearts live!

And yet, promises and precedents do exist.

In the time of Christ, the poor saw Him first and recognized God in Him. The poor followed. The poor believed. The poor sustained the faith. And the rich worried.

But God’s empowerment is not a change of social status. In all the acts that Jesus did for the poor, he never made anyone richer. He healed, he fed, he taught. He gave hope where no hope had been. He gave strength to the weak. He spoke to the wealth within each and every human being. He loved.

One of the essentials to surviving and perhaps overcoming one’s circumstances is trusting God’s providence in the midst of difficulty. It’s living through this day because the next day is in God’s hands and anything can happen. This is the significance of praise: it’s trust.

Back in 1970, Merlin R. Carothers wrote a book, From Prison to Praise, that is still in print today and continues to change lives. A lot of us tried his formula but it always felt a little forced to me. I felt like I had to manipulate my circumstances to find something I could praise God for in the midst of them, like having a flat tire on the freeway, but “praise God,” a policeman stopped. And so forth. I’m not saying this way of looking for the silver lining in life events doesn’t have value, it does, but today, I’m thinking differently.

Instead, as in the case of the poor whose circumstances may not be dramatically changed from day to day, it’s trusting God in the midst of the worst. God is sovereign whether I can see it, feel it, or touch it.

Perhaps it’s too hard to say, I praise God in this nightmare, then say instead, “I trust God.” They are the same.

It’s not up to me to figure out which part of this crisis can be turned for good or how God will manifest nor do I need to be a Pollyanna . Instead, it is the simplicity of “I am here, God is here, I am here with God” [Brian McLaren, Naked Spirituality: a life with God in 12 simple words].

If it is hard for me to maintain a place of trust in God, how much more for those in crisis every day?

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