Victor Hugo (1802–1885), a poet and novelist during the social and political upheavals of nineteenth-century France, is perhaps best known for his classic Les Miserables. Over a century later, a musical adaption of his novel has become one of our generation’s most popular productions. This shouldn’t surprise us. As Hugo once said, “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”
The psalmists would have agreed. Their songs and prayers provide us with honest reflections on life and its inevitable pain. They touch us in places we find difficult to access. For example, in Psalm 6:6, David cries out, “I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.”
The fact that such raw honesty is included in the inspired songs of the Scriptures gives us great encouragement. It invites us to bring our fears to God, who welcomes us into His presence for comfort and help. He embraces us in our heartfelt honesty.
Music can give us the ability to express our feelings when words are hard to come by, but whether that expression is sung, prayed, or silently cried, our God reaches into the deepest places in our hearts and gives us His peace.
Pastor Tim Keller said, “Nobody ever learns who they are by being told. They must be shown.” In a sense, it is one application of the adage, “Actions speak louder than words.” Spouses show their mates that they are appreciated by listening to them and loving them. Parents show their children they are valued by lovingly caring for them. Coaches show athletes they have potential by investing in their development. And on it goes. By the same token, a different kind of action can show people painful things that communicate much darker messages.
Of all the action-based messages in the universe, there is one that matters most. When we want to be shown who we are in God’s eyes, we need look no further than His actions on the cross. In Romans 5:8, Paul wrote, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The cross shows us who we are—those whom God so loved that He gave His one and only Son for us (John 3:16).
Against the mixed messages and confusing actions of broken people in a broken culture, the message of God’s heart rings clear. Who are you? You are the one so beloved by God that He gave His Son for Your rescue. Consider the price He paid for you and the wonderful reality that, to God, you were always worth it.
When World War I erupted in 1914, British statesman Sir Edward Grey declared, “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.” Grey was right. When the “war to end all wars” finally ended, some 20 million had been killed (10 million of them civilians) and another 21 million injured.
While not on the same scale or magnitude, devastation can also occur in our personal lives. The home, workplace, church, or neighborhood can also be shrouded by the dark specter of conflict. This is one of the reasons our God calls us to be difference-makers in the world. But to do so we must rely on His wisdom. The apostle James wrote, “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:17–18).
The role of peacemaker is significant because of its harvest. The word righteousness means “right standing” or “right relationship.” Peacemakers can help restore relationships. No wonder Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). His children, relying on His wisdom, become instruments of His peace where it is needed most.
Today’s Bible Reading: Luke 24:13–27
This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. -Luke 2:12
Martin Luther, the German reformer who turned the religious world upside down, was both courageous and complicated. He spoke truth to power in ways that made his generation uncomfortable, yet he also spoke with great wisdom. Luther…
Today’s Bible Reading: Luke 1:26–38
Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you. -Luke 1:28
Our family had gathered for lots of food and for catching up with each other. Mark, our youngest son, had arrived early with his wife, and he told his mom he wanted to pray for the meal. We found that a bit surprising, as Mark was…
Today’s Bible Reading: John 1:1–14
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. -John 1:4
My friend, the late Steve Bly, was uber-creative. Steve had a special knack for writing Christian Western fiction. He could constantly spin characters and stories out of his head that were, at the same time, incredible yet fully believable.
One of Steve’s fun things to…
Today’s Bible Reading: Acts 2:29–35
God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. -Acts 2:32
When I was a boy, I saw the film The Greatest Story Ever Told—a cinematic retelling of the life of Christ. The movie boasted an all-star cast that included Charlton Heston as John the Baptist, David McCallum as Judas Iscariot, John Wayne as…
Today’s Bible Reading: Acts 2:14–28
God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. -Acts 2:24
In William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, two “star-crossed” (negatively destined) lovers from rival families are drawn irresistibly to one another. But events conspire against them, first to inspire their love and its…