The Shepherd Calls


It’s a Paradox
As I dismounted from my vehicle, someone called my name, “Mr. Paris, Wade.” I turned to see a nice neighbor bringing a lovely vase of flowers. Vainly I assumed they were a gift but wondered what for. It was not my birthday or Easter, nor any holiday of which I was aware. As she put the lovely flowers into my hands, I stammered my pleasant surprise. “What on earth?”
“They are from my sister’s funeral,” she explained. Suddenly the flowers took a downward turn. I inquired about her sister. Was she an older or younger sister? Had she been sick, or was there an accident?
“There were so many flowers,” she explained. “I could not take them all home. I thought of you and your wife and hoped maybe you could enjoy them. My sister would have been pleased for you to have them.”
It is a paradox---a glad/sad experience. The flowers are lovely. We have enjoyed them for several days now. However, each time I see them, I think, “I have the flowers because someone died.”
Truth be told, many of our blessings come through the suffering of someone else. That is paradoxical. A paradox has two sides: (1) the receiver side where I am blessed through your pain and unselfishness; (2) and the side that demands I suffer so you can be blessed.
Christians find themselves on the receiving end of history’s greatest paradox. Through the suffering of Jesus, we have received eternal life. When people of character are blessed through the sacrifice of someone else, they find ways to express their thanks. For example, my wife was overwhelmed when she found the lovely bouquet in the living room. When I explained their source, she promptly got on the phone and thanked our neighbor.
Like I said earlier, we Christians are blessed beyond measure by the suffering of Jesus. In lieu of a phone call, you can breathe a prayer of thanksgiving. But there is more you can do. Jesus indicated the best thanks for His sacrificial blessings is for us to follow Him in sacrificial living. Don’t take my word for it; let the Lord tell you Himself, “In as much as you have done it unto the least persons, you have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)