Sunday, April 18, 2010
The Fragrant Sacrifice of Praise through Pain
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him” (II Corinthians 2:14).
I recently re-read the New Testament story of Mary of Bethany (John 12:8), who annointed Jesus with expensive perfume before His death. I began thinking of how much I wanted to offer a gift to the Lord that would be as touchingly beautiful and fragrant as Mary’s was.
I thought of Mary’s gift. It was a sacrifice in several respects. The expense alone was worth a year’s salary. I imagine she had to give up some wants and perhaps even some needs to pay for it. Although our giving may not be of great monetary value, those of us with chronic health problems are continually giving up activities, hopes, desires, and dreams. We can give them up grudgingly and despairingly, or we can yield them willingly and gladly, even though our hearts are breaking in the process.
Mary also faced criticism and misunderstanding from those around her for her extravagant gift. We sometimes face the insensitivities and criticisms of those who do not understand our limitations. We do not need to feel guilty for what we cannot give. God knows our limitations. Praying for others, keeping positive attitudes, and having thankful hearts even as we are suffering are as honoring and significant to Him as the physical acts of service that healthier people may give.
When Mary poured out the fragrant perfume, the aroma spread to all those present. As we offer our willingness and perseverance to praise God through our pain, the fragrance of that sacrifice can reach others. They are able to see God’s faithfulness to His children through all circumstances as the mighty power of His Spirit works in us, bringing us comfort, peace, and strength. Pouring out our lives of suffering as a gift of love to the Lord may be as sacrificial to Him as the gift Mary gave.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, give me a willing heart to offer my sacrifice of praise through pain. May it become the fragrance of Christ to those around me. Amen.