Lent 25 (2012)–Frail Grasp on the Big Picture

Luke 16:19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table….22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.

Our journey’s discipleship lesson from Psalm 127 (the eighth Song of Ascents) is that God is the One from Whom All Blessings Flow.  We live in a culture where people don’t quite get that.  Or maybe we don’t want to get it because it would require us to make choices differently.  The danger with ignoring this discipleship lesson is that we can overlook the plight of those who haven’t been similarly blessed.  Such is the lesson from the Rich Man spoken of in today’s passage.

The irony of this story is that whether God has blessed us with riches … or with afflictions, the humble spirit will recognize that—in a strange sense—both are blessings from God. 

The Beatitudes from Matthew 5:3-12 contain plentiful references to the strange blessing of humble suffering and no acknowledgement of the kind of finery enjoyed by the Rich Man.  Lazarus was the one truly blessed, laid at the gate of the Rich Man, to be an opportunity for the Rich Man to discover the blessing of serving more than just himself.

It’s been a long road for me to see the suffering in my life as blessing.  Suffering is a peculiar mustard seed of blessing.  It can become strong faith and eternal joy—invisible blessings revealed in the end.  Did I want the tiny seed of cancer?  No.  But planted in hope, it has become a ministry to people at a hospital.  A tiny seed of my stillborn daughter, planted in the hands of God has become theological training and an Internet ministry of comfort to others.

But when riches come our way and we think somehow that we get the glory, God can easily show us that we can’t take it with us.  Such is the lesson from the Rich Man.

There are no do-overs once we die.  Such is the lesson from the Rich Man who wanted to be in heaven.  Luke 16:25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.”

The Rich Man’s problem was not that he was rich!  His problem was that he was living the lyrics of a Glenn Frey song, he had a “Frail grasp on the big picture, light fading, and the fog is getting thicker.”  The more we focus on ourselves as both the source and the ultimate consumer of riches, the light fades; the fog gets thicker; and we have a frail grasp on the big picture that God is the One from Whom All Blessings Flow.  Such is the Lesson from the Rich Man.


Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on March 21, 2012

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