Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Outstretched Arm of God - Day #6

The human arm is a window - a symbol through which we are reminded of God's strength.

Taking Comfort In the Strength of God
Tim gets the rough end of the stick every day - figuratively. He came out as a Christian, talking publicly about it, about three weeks ago. Since then his friends have stopped hanging out with him ("you're different now, man," one of them told him on the way to a party), his Atheist co-worker has started to take verbal jabs at his intelligence during breaks, and his history teacher has started devoting 15 minutes of every class to listing off the sins of Christian institutions during the medieval times leading up to colonization of North America. He gets trashed and belittled all the time. His girlfriend dumped him because she didn't want others to think that she was religious too. The yearbook and student newspaper dropped him because they thought that he might insert his own "fundamentalist biases" into the publications. And to top it all off, his family has become combative and demeaning as well.

Tim has a secret for dealing with all of the trouble in his life. In private prayer he holds up his right arm, stretching it out, and looks to it as he asks to God to fight on his behalf. Doing this reminds Tim of all the verses in the Bible that speak of God fighting for his people with an outstretched arm: "I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment," says God in Exodus 6.6; Isaiah the Prophet even asked Him to "Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble" (Isaiah 33.2).

The Image of God and the Arm of Man
This story is meant to show that God (in His infinite wisdom) created the human body in a certain way and for certain reasons to tell us something about Him: as people who are made in the image of God (Genesis 1.26), every part of our bodies represents Him in some way - see The Body and the Image - Day #3 for more info. In this case, the human arm represents God's strength. This is the case throughout the entire Bible, where "the arm of the LORD" means God's might, power, ongoing work in fighting for the cause of His people, etc. When you see your own arms in the mirror, or see someone using their arms for something like physical labour, mixed martial arts, weight lifting, or arm wrestling, think of how the arm is a symbol for strength and remind yourself that it speaks to the might of God, who is our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble. Let the human arm and its strength remind you that God is strong; let it remind you of "the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might" (Ephesians 1.19). Let it remind you that he fights on your behalf to make all things work together for your good. The arm is a window - a symbol through which we are reminded of the strength of God.

Reflection Passage
Read Psalm 89.13-21 and think about how the protection of God's "arm" inspires the writer to worship God with "a festive shout." Since God is invisible and spiritual and does not have a body (see "Our Invisible God and His Image - Day #4" for more information), think about how the human arm tells us something about who God is and what He is like.

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