Songs in the Night Header for Blog
I write this less than two hours before Brazil’s game against Germany in the World Cup. In a matter of hours someone will go home (in Brazil’s case, stay home but out of the competition). In less than a week a new champion will be crowned (the reigning champs, Spain, bid farewell while still in the group phase). Four years from now, when the football greats gather in Russia, no one will remember who the semi-finalists were. Most people will only remember the winners, if that.

Such is the world we live in. We care about the heroics of the last one standing but the efforts of the vanquished, we conveniently ignore. In fact, the very word “hero” often only refers to those who got first place. Silver and bronze are not good enough, even if that puts you among the top three athletes in the world. And no one wants a dead hero.

But the Bible presents an entirely different picture. Believe it or not, there are heroes in the Bible who never came in first. If fact, some were cheated and even forcibly removed from the “competition.” Some heroes of Scripture never got to experience what they were hoping for. They were not delivered miraculously. They didn’t draw strength from afar. Their knight with shinning armor never arrived.

When I compare my life with the life of those heroes, I am forced to do like Job, who, after hearing a barrage of questions from God, humbly declared that from now on he would keep his mouth shut.

Hebrews 11 gives us a whole gallery of the heroes of faith, beginning with Abraham all the way to David and Samuel. Their exploits are listed with military precision. A celebratory tone ensues. We are inspired. Then we come to the middle of verse 35 and the little word “others” makes its appearance. Who are the “others,” I ask? They are other heroes, of course. But their stories couldn’t be more radically different, as the author tells us:

“… others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.” (Hebrews 11:35-38).

To make sure that we don’t miss the point, he goes on to say, “And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised…” (Hebrews 11:39).

Annie Flint Johnson was one of those “of whom the world was not worthy.” She was orphaned four times (two times from her biological parents, two from her adopted ones). Her dreams of becoming a concert pianist were shattered when she learned that she had a form of arthritis that would incapacitate her for the rest of her life. She was eventually unable to walk, bedridden for most of her 66 years here on earth, and when she died her body shrank to only about four feet. But in my book, she was a giant of the faith.

She tried and tried to attain healing from her condition until she came to the conclusion that God somehow wished to bring glory to His name through her. From then on she was willing to embrace her suffering and turn it into a testimony to God’s grace and love. The song we will be starting this Sunday explains her conviction:

He Giveth More Grace

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,

He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;

To added affliction He addeth His mercy,

To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

 

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,

When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,

When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,

Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

 

His love has no limit, His grace has no measure;

His power no boundary known unto men;

For out of His infinite riches in Jesus

He giveth and giveth and giveth again.

Annie Flint Johnson went on to become one of the most prolific poets of the 19th and early 20th Century, writing some of the deepest and most enduring words of comfort will find anywhere. Her life stands as a testimony that God can turn any tragedy into joy.

I hope you will join us this Sunday and learn about the life and poetry of this remarkable woman who has inspired millions through the years. I hope you will be motivated to transcend your own trials and turn them into triumphs.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Advertisements