Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Crowded Kindnesses Of God

The late 19th and early 20th century pastor, Alexander Maclaren, once advised:  “Seek to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindnesses of God in your daily life” (cited in Randy Alcorn, Eternal Perspectives [Spring, 2015]). This is wise counsel. After all, the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 2:4, “God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance,” and then in Ephesians 2:7 he taught that one of God’s purposes in saving us is this: “so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” In other words, both in this present age and in the ages to come (without end) God is committed to displaying acts of kindness to his sons and daughters.

It is easy to think this is not the case. We focus upon the trials and suffering, the pain we experience, and it is easy to conclude that everything “stinks”! But even in these hard things God has promised to orchestrate them together along with other acts of providence he brings to us, coupled with what he teaches us in his Word and also with the ongoing work of his Spirit in us to bring about the good of conforming us to the image of his Son (Romans 8:28-29). So, we can even rejoice in trials since we know they are producing endurance and strength in us, as well as hope (Rom. 5:1-5; James 1:2-3). God is so committed to showing us the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness that he even turns the hardships into kindnesses.

But, more than this, there are so many acts of kindness he brings to us that we often take for granted: A kind word of a friend, the presence of a friend, the food we have to eat, our health, a breath-taking sunset, a smile-causing rainbow, a timely rain, the family of God who rallies around us when we are paralyzed by loss, time spent with a child or a grandchild, the Bible and its words of life, the gift of prayer, assurance of God’s love, fellowships with Christ, joy in the Holy Spirit, continual increase in God’s grace, and God’s preservation of us so that we can persevere in the faith.

This is merely scratching the surface, but hopefully it is enough to get us thinking and looking for not just a few, but for “the crowded kindnesses of God” we experience daily!