This fallen world affects all creatures,
Saint and sinner, with the bread
Of hard affliction—mournful soul-ache,
Unjust judgment, creeping dread.
But the God of all creation
Has engineered a hidden path
Wherein the sweetest, purest pleasures
In affliction may be had.
The wise are found in those dark mine shafts
Sifting ore from worthless slag,
While the torrents of life’s hardships
Fall like oil upon their heads.
And the key into this pathway
Where God’s favorites know to hide
Is the simple abjuration
Of any form of human pride.
The sons of God receive misfortune
As by the hand of Providence,
And pray that God would use affliction
To relieve their hearts of sin.
And by this trick of humble bending
All the world can be transformed:
The doors of heaven are blasted open,
And Christ the King comes forth, adorned
With crown and robe and royal scepter,
A golden sash around his chest.
And by his cross confers upon you
The robe of his own righteousness.
Then, as you look, a door will open
Where there was no door before,
Opened by the mild reception
Of hardship as the gift of God.
Now look up from your circumstances;
Recall that all folks’ lives are thus.
Saints and sinners bear affliction,
But only some are changed by God.
Though these light and fleeting hardships
May obscure the coming troves,
Don’t forget the scripture’s promise:
God only disciplines whom he loves.
Face the storm that stands before you;
Cling to God, your truest friend;
Confess that there is sin that blinds you;
Give up your pride, and bend.
2 thoughts on “Exhortation”
This poem was sort of a response to C.J. Mahaney’s book Humility: True Greatness. I had read the book some months ago and was really impressed. Eventually, I decided that the book was important enough that I ought to give a copy to all my closest male relatives for Christmas.
The problem: how rude is it to give everybody the same present? And how thoughtless to give certain people, who perhaps are not avid readers, a book. And giving a book, what does it communicate when the title is “Humility”? I mean, what are you saying? “Here you really need this one….”?
So my solution was to include a short personal note in the inside flap of each book, explaining what an important book I thought it was, and relating it to how I thought they might find it helpful. In other words, to compensate for giving everyone the same gift I would write each person the same note – only different.
It kept getting harder and harder as I layered on thought after thought about the same book, carefully relating it to each person. When I got to my brother-in-law Dale, who is a writer himself, it happened to come out in meter and rhyme. What you see above is the result.