Maid of God

I’m not enthused about foreign war history, so I guess I never paid enough attention to Joan of Arc’s story. I knew she believed she was called by God to fight for the French cause, and I admired her for following a cause she believed in even in the midst of opposition. I know now I actually missed the crux of her story.

When I saw the movie listed on Turner Classic Movies, I thought again – Do I really want to watch all that battle stuff? And yet the courage of this woman drew me in and inspired me.

Joan, called the Maid of God, came from a poor country family. Against all odds, she carried out the mission she believed God had laid on her heart. The Roman Catholic clergy in France examined her, could not find fault with her, and sent her on with their blessing. But after Charles VII was crowned, he betrayed the very person who believed in him and his role as king by taking bribe money from the English government to stop his troops from getting more of their land back.

Joan continued on in what she believed, but she was captured and delivered into the hand of the English. In front of a group of church officials who accused her of heresy, she was cruelly interrogated again and again. In between, she was shackled to a prison bed. But though becoming weak in body, she stood firm in her persuasion that God had spoken to her. When the clergy attempted to trick her and asked her if she believed she is in God’s grace, she replied, “If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me. I should be the saddest creature in the world if I knew I were not in His grace.”

Finally though, she came to a breaking point. At the promise of a church prison, she gave in to the judges. However, when they sent her to the same prison, she wept. About being sent back to such a cruel prison? No. She wept with a deep sorrow that she had denied God. But God graciously gave her peace by showing her His forgiveness.

After recanting her submission to the judges and standing firm again in her God, she was condemned to be burned at the stake. Her last words were, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”

Against all opposition, Joan followed her heart. She took action in what she believed God told her to do. But it wasn’t the French she died for. God had greater plans. In the end, she died for God and His glory. And only eternity will reveal how many souls have turned to God or how many Christians have been encouraged to stand firm in God because of her witness.

God’s Love Outweighs Our Troubles

A woman afflicted with brain cancer lies in a hospital bed. She smiles and holds two thumbs up. How can she possibly do that?

As long as we are on this earth, chronic or terminal illnesses will refuse to retreat, difficulties with family or friends will still induce pain, and losses will continue to cause heart-rending grief.

How can we possibly go through these dark valleys? How can we possibly give our burdens over into God’s hands? How can we possibly give God a two-thumbs up when circumstances around us “feel” like He has deserted us?

It’s about faith and trust. Do we believe we have a heavenly Father Who loves us so much that He only has our best interests at heart? Do we trust that God always has a plan to prosper us and not to harm us? That no matter what happens, He will always carry us through? Do we believe and trust that God will never allow anything to happen to us unless it is for our eternal welfare and our spiritual growth in Him?

Think of a balancing scale with burdens on one side and hope on the other. We are prone to fill up the BURDENS’ tray first. Clunk! Clunk! Clunk! Down to where the tray hits the bottom of gloom and doom. But wait… Let’s not forget the HOPE side. Cast in the everlasting love, endless compassion, and faithfulness of a heavenly Father Who has said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31) Sproing! And flip! There go the burdens.

Our troubles are nothing compared to the weight of God’s matchless, unconditional love – a love that knows what’s best for us and will always carry us through the tough spots. Two-Thumbs-Up to God! He knows what He is doing.

Soon the darkness will give way to morning light. “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (II Corinthians 4:17) Josh Wilson sings of this promise in “Before the Morning” – “Cause the pain that you’ve been feeling, it can’t compare to the joy that’s coming…”