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Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Part VII



Vol.3: Man in Adam and in Christ

Part V



Table of Contents

Chapter 1.   Where Hindrance is Help
Chapter 2.   Thy Rod Comforts Me?
Chapter 3.   A Thorn in the Flesh



Publishing history:
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 revisions)

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"All things work together for good to them that love God. . ."
 (Romans 8:28)

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

"This thing is from Me."
(1 Kings 12:24)


     pg.2 of 5     



      BOTH THE 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 dispersed.
     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

     pg.3 of 5     

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 free time.
     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,

     pg.4 of 5     

but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:8).
    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.

     pg.5 of 5     

Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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