|Vol. 16 No. 1 January 2014||
Many times during the course of my 85 years, I have come face to face with seemingly insurmountable difficulties. Some of these turned out to be imaginary; some of them were very real. Some of them passed into oblivion quickly, and some of them endured for great lengths of time. In parallel, I’m reminded of the two old country boys who were trying to impress each other with their vast storehouse of knowledge about girls. One of them observed, “Now, pretty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone. Pretty is sure to pass away, but that old ugly just keeps hanging on.” In a remote but comparative way, that’s how troubles and treasures come into, and abide in our lives. Some are fleeting, some are steadfast. Some bring happiness and others bring tears.
In the annals of recorded history, I would dare say there have been few people who ever confronted more or harder trials than the apostle Paul. Consider, “…In labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft” (2 Corinthians 11:23). He then continued to relate a staggering account of tragic abuses. ‘Beaten by the Jews five times with 39 stripes. Beaten with rods three times. Stoned once. In three ship wrecks. A day and a night in the deep. In endless journeys.’ Listen to his next words: “In perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by my own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness…the daily care of all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).
“This I know – if all men should take their troubles to market, to barter with their neighbors, not one of them, when he had seen the troubles of other men, but would be glad to carry his own back home again.” (Herodotus: History VII)
A reasonable summary of all the above data will leave us with the understanding that we are not alone when it comes to having difficulty in our lives. Some appear to weather the storms of life with ease, while others founder and grow more and more despondent. Is there an explanation for such? I believe there is! Some have evidently read and observed what Peter said about such, “…casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Those who do this are not struggling alone with their burdens, but they face them with the sustaining arms of eternal God. The same problems without God’s help would certainly be a formidable and daunting task for anyone.
If our reasoning was tempered with the same degree or righteousness that typified the apostle Paul, we could more easily understand his statement: “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Another of his revealing statements reads, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Then, finally, note, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
No doubt, we’ll have troubles in this life! If we confronted the one responsible for most of them, however, and gave him a swift kick, we might have trouble sitting down comfortably for the next few days! Insurmountable troubles? Hardly! Face all of them with God’s sustaining arms.
We get used to seeing blood at an early age. When a little one scrapes a knee, cuts a finger, etc., the blood oozes. As one gets older, more severe injuries occur and the blood sometimes flows freely from a body. The dictionary describes blood as “the liquid in veins, arteries and capillaries of vertebrates. Blood is circulated by the heart and carries oxygen and digested food to all parts of the body and takes away waste materials.” From this definition, we understand that blood is essential to maintaining life.
I myself am a living phenomenon. On October 8, 2005, I suffered a ruptured abdominal aorta aneurysm and I “bled out.” An average-size man’s body contains approximately 10-12 pints of blood and I was given 33 units to get me going again. Statistics show that only about 10% of people who have an “aaa” survive, so I understand how close I came to losing physical life and know how very much God has blessed me. Yet, that’s not the intent of this recap; the aim is to help us understand how very vital blood is to life.
This was so from the beginning of time. The first mention of blood in the Bible is in Genesis 4:9. “The Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel your brother? …The Lord said to Cain, What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries to Me from the ground.” These words were spoken following the act of Cain killing Abel.
Then, we have the proven texts from God that show that He meant for blood to sustain life: “Flesh with the life of it, which is the blood, you shall not eat” (Genesis 9:4). This was stated again in Deuteronomy 12:23, “Be sure that you don’t eat the blood for the blood is the life.” We can’t misunderstand that God put blood in physical bodies to give them life.
We have been discussing blood in relation to the physical body and know that it is absolutely necessary to maintain life. There is another way that life is in the blood and that is our spiritual being. Every person who has ever lived to an accountable age has sinned. Sin is described as “All unrighteousness is sin” (1 John 5:17). Anything that a person does that is not godly (that is, righteous) is sin (that is, unrighteous), and that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2).
There is a progression of sin in one’s life. Listen to James as he penned, “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed. Then, when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death” (1:14ff). Sin which is not covered or forgiven by the blood of Christ brings death to the spiritual soul just as lack of blood in the body brings physical death.
When all the blood is gone from a physical body as mine was, death is knocking at the door unless something is done quickly to rejuvenate the blood and get it flowing again. Likewise, when we sin, eternal spiritual death is at the door unless Christ’s blood is applied. “We have redemption through His [Christ’s] blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). “You know that you were not redeemed with corruptible thing…but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18ff). God provided a plan for man to be forgiven for his sins, and the only way that will happen is through the blood of Christ who died for the redemption of man’s sins for all time.
How appropriate that God planned this for men’s spiritual life! Because men understand the value of blood to physical life, so they can easily understand the value of blood to spiritual life. The fact is that in either case there is no life without blood. The body itself will die without life-sustaining blood, and the spiritual soul will die without the redemption we can receive through the blood of Christ.