Amanda Barber

Stories, songs, and thoughts on life.

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Severe Mercy

17 October 2013

I cannot tell you how extremely pleasant it is to sit at home in front of my computer, typing away with a cup of coffee close at hand, my most favorite Christopher Parkening CD playing, and rain drops falling against my window. I am the consummate home body, and any day I can spend in part or entirely at home doing homey things like cooking or cleaning something, is a very good day. This particularly morning, I have been working on a new movie script idea, the story line of which I am not at liberty to divulge at the moment! Sorry. Suffice it to say that it will be the next film project for Duke Street Productions and will be a full length feature film. The story is dear to my heart, and to a certain degree captures a small portion of my life—that most painful portion called adolescence.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand why people go on and on about youth like it’s the most carefree part of life. Youth, especially adolescence is when you realize that life isn’t rosy, that the expectations for a good life in which you assumed that everything around the corner was a new delight waiting to happen, fall crashing to the ground. As my main character will say at a certain point in the story, “I hate expectations. They come unconsciously when you’re little, and they’re always rosy. But when you grow up, they just kind of fade away and all you’re left with is reality.” I believe a great deal depends on how an individual responds to the reality of failed expectations at that point in life. Adolescence is the training ground for adult character, whether good or bad.

Growing up, especially as a Christian, means realizing that those things you wish hadn’t happened were the good things. “God’s severe mercies” is what the Puritans called them, a term which has all but faded out of the modern evangelical vocabulary. “All the afflictions that attend the people of God turn out to their profit and advantage. They are God’s furnace to cleanse and preserve his people,” said Puritan Thomas Brook approximately three hundred years ago. And he was right. All the miserable things that have happened to me have been the best experiences of my life. If nothing else, they’ve shown me what a weak, miserable, selfish person I am and how much I need Christ to do anything good.

And so go the meditations of my head today. Thanks for stopping by.

Satan seeks to draw the soul into sin by presenting the sufferings that daily attend those who walk in holiness. But all the afflictions that attend the people of God turn out to their profit and glorious advantage. Afflictions are a looking glass that show the ugly face of sin. They are God’s furnace to cleanse and preserve His people. Saints thrive most internally when they are most afflicted. Manasseh’s chain was more profitable to him than his crown. Luther could not understand some Scriptures until he was in affliction. God’s house of correction is his school of instruction. Afflictions lift up the soul to a fuller enjoyment of God, and more sweet and full enjoyment of his blessed self. They keep the heart humble and tender, and by experience saints find that they can embrace the cross as others do the world’s crown. Afflictions inflame love that is cold, quicken decaying faith, and put life into withering hope. The more the saints are beaten with the hammer of affliction, the more they trumpet God’s praises.

Adversities abate the loveliness of the world that entices us and the lusts that incite us. They afflict, but never harm. They are momentary; sorrow may abide for a night, but joy comes in the morning. This short storm will end in an everlasting calm. We must measure afflictions by their outcome, not how they hurt. (from Voices from the Past, p. 288)

Thomas Brooks