Straight Strokes with Crooked Sticks

For the faithful, trouble produces a crop. Thomas Watson said “He can make a straight stroke with a crooked sick”, and we can add that God makes a particular point of drawing this way. Call it a divine nouveau. This is counterintuitive because whenever we face hardships and sorrow, we feel like our faith and joy in the gospel is threatened, and in a sense it is–we have to grow to overcome it. But these are precisely the things God uses to draw us near to him and to further his kingdom. Moses notes Pharaoh’s plan to oppress the Jews: “Come, let us deal wisely with them,lest they multiply” (Ex. 1:10) And what resulted? “The more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad” (Ex. 1:12). I can imagine being a husband with newly pregnant wife just as the latest round of oppression came down the government pike. “Cheers Yahweh! Just what we need.” But it turns out, that’s exactly what they needed, more people to walk through the Red Sea and into the land. Many have heard Tertulian’s famous saying “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Julian the Apostate’s is less known: “The showers of blood have made her more fruitful.” We should be nervous if we never have any problems.

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