This book can be purchased from Amazon, where I got the photo.
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig is one of my all-time favorite children's books. Written for an audience of 4-8 year olds, it tells of Sylvester, an amiable donkey, discovering that a shiny pebble he found had the capacity to give him what he was wishing for. Sylvester experimented by wishing for several different things before concluding that this was true, of course.
My favorite line in the book is, 'What a lucky day this is!' thought Sylvester. 'From now on I can have anything I want. My father and mother can have anything they want. My relatives, my friends, and anybody at all can have anything anybody wants!'
Unfortunately, this idea is not uncommonly found within the Christian community - that if we pray the prayer or walk the aisle, then, like Sylvester, anybody at all can have anything anybody wants!! or so we believe. Under that assumption, many then go out into the big cruel world to test 'the magic pebble.'
When things go wrong, as they certainly always will in this fallen world, those who've gotten sucked into 'magic pebble theology' become disappointed, discouraged, disillusioned, ready to throw their magic pebble god out the window. (a god of our own making - not to be confused with the sovereign God of the Universe, the God of the Bible.)
God never promised us a life exempt from suffering, grief, and loss. The Bible does talk about peace that passes all understanding. That would imply that we have peace amidst trials, certainly not that we can expect peaceful lives. Jesus said to take up our cross and follow Him. Scripture also says that 'all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.' Romans 8:28. That's the good and the bad things. God uses all of them to His glory.
Hebrews Chapter 11 tells us of the lives of the saints, sinners saved by grace, who've gone before:
'[They] 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.
And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.'
THEREFORE, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus said, These things I have spoken to you, so that in ME you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage - I have overcome the world. - John 16:34
I am so thankful for the real peace and joy and HOPE that a sovereign God gives the repentant sinner, His child, even in the midst of adversity.
This post is linked to Thankful Thursday.
Just for the Joy of It.