Table of Contents
Vol.3: Man in Adam and in Christ
THE PLACE OF HANDICAPS IN HUMAN ACHIEVEMENT
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Where
Hindrance is Help
Chapter 2. Thy Rod
Chapter 3. A Thorn in the
1 of 5
1971: Doorway Paper No. 57, published privately by Arthur C. Custance
1977: Part V in Man in Adam and in Christ, vol.3 in The
Doorway Papers Series, Zondervan Publishing Company
1997: Arthur Custance Online Library (html)
2001 2nd Online Edition (corrections, design
"All things work
together for good to them that love God. . ."
"In every thing give thanks:
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
"This thing is from Me."
BIBLE and the astronomers tell us that in due course the world
will come to an end. The Bible promises a new heaven and a new
earth. Astronomers merely say that in the very nature of things
the universe must run down. They call it a heat death, though
it might better be referred to as a death from cold. For it is
to signal the total dissipation of all useful energy, a condition
of maximum entropy. It will perish of old age, all its resources
Philosophers, like Bertrand Russell,
building on this rather depressing picture, are quite certain
that this scene of great hopes and sad disappointments, of laughter
and pain, this blessed vale of tears, will all come to nought
in the end. Anyone who builds his life on any other view of things
is doomed to disappointment. We have merely been permitted to
view it all as in the light of a match struck for a moment in
the darkness and then blown out. Ultimately, the darkness will
prevail and all aspirations will then come to nothing.
If there were to be a giant tombstone
erected somewhere to the memory of man, it would have but two
words upon it, if only. For such is the summation of human
aspiration: a record of near success, always marred by some odd
bent in our nature which defeats our best intentions and in the
end brings so many of our grand designs to nought. Philosophers
attribute this to a fault in the mechanism of evolution, that
could conceivably correct itself at some distant time, but little
hope is held out for the immediate future. The Bible attributes
this to man's basic fallen nature -- an unpopular doctrine, but
surely stamped with the hallmark of truth in the private conscience
of each one of us personally.
We feel that there is always some
excuse external to ourselves, which accounts for our failure.
Some hindrance for which we are not really responsible mars the
great expectations which we have for our life. If only this or
that handicap could be removed, we could achieve
what other men achieve,
and more. We feel hedged-in in crucial ways, denied the opportunity
or the means, the absence of which seems to be all that keeps
us from doing great things for mankind -- and even for God.
Job felt this way. He asked, in
effect, Why should we be given life and understanding which enable
us to see the possibilities for our lives, if at the same time
we are prevented in one way or another from achieving these things?
"Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and
whom God hath hedged in?" (Job 3: 23). Why should we be
tantalized in this way, allowed to dream dreams and be given
visions, while at the same time the wherewithal to achieve them
is denied us, and all too often we look around and see others
given those very opportunities and yet making no use of them?
So often it seems that we are handicapped in ways which God could
so easily change by giving us more money or more energy or more
But hedges have several
purposes. They may serve to keep in, it is true; but they may
also serve as a protective device, to keep out. The hedge that
Job viewed from inside as a barrier to his own freedom of aspiration
was seen from the outside by a powerful enemy of his as a protection
against attack. Satan wished to challenge Job's integrity, but
he found that Job had a divinely appointed fence around him.
And so he complained to the Lord, "Hast Thou not made an
hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath
on every side?" (Job 1:10).
Of course not all our hedgings-in
are of God's appointing, for some of them are due to the sinfulness
of our own lives. But I'm convinced that in many of them, and
indeed in the ones which seem to us most frustrating, God's hand
is at work. They are part of God's appointment to protect us
from dangers we do not see, even dangers which stem from our
own skill and strength. The truth is that pride is such a
terribly destructive thing that success in any direction is hard
for most of us to sustain with grace. The Lord knows how much
we can achieve without being spoiled by that very achievement.
And He has determined for us not that we should become successful
as the world counts success and, unhappily, as Christian people
all too often count it, but rather that our character should
be molded, made sweeter, more gracious, and more Christ-like.
And for this, achievement of another kind is in view,
namely, the ability to respond with humility and resignation
to mediocre performance if necessary, to accomplishment of a
less dramatic order. God's goal is the making of saints, not
highly successful people. For what does God really require of
us, His children,
but to do justly, and
to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:8).
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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For myself, I have again and again had
occasion to see that God's way is best, that prevention can be
a blessing, hindrance can be help, that lack of physical health
can be the key to spiritual well being, that wealth can mean
poverty, to be poor can mean being rich, that it can be more
blessed to lose than to win.
Yet though I have often rationalized
it all in this way until I have been entirely convinced that
God's way is best by far, I still question His goodness when
once again my best aspirations come to nought, especially when
the goal seems to be so completely in accordance with His will.
And I have learned that there are times when although the Lord
has given us clear instructions to go forward, He may nevertheless
not only make it difficult to start on the way but may actually
prevent us from going as far as it seemed clear we should go.
It is well for us to study Scripture for light upon circumstances
such as these, for light is to be found there. And it helps us
to take stock, every little while, of the meaning and purpose
of these hindrances which God seems to allow and sometimes to
appoint as part of our lot in life. And that is what this
Paper is all about.