May I make a request of you?
Yesterday, our pastor wrapped up his series on contentment in the Christian life. (It is nothing short of excellent, so please listen if you have the time!) Of all the sermons and points he preached, I found myself continually going back to one application in particular: “the rhetoric of the Spirit.” It has already proven in these past three weeks to be an enormous grace during times of hardship, pain, and suffering.
Here is what Pastor Colin preached:
Make more of your joys than you do of your sorrows. Make more of your gains than you do of your losses. Do this in your thinking, in your speaking, and even in your praying, and you will grow in contentment. I’ve included praying here because of what Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6). If you do this, “the peace of God… will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (4:7).
So bring your requests to God. But if your prayers are only a long list of requests, your praying will not bring you peace. All you are doing is filling your mind with problems in the presence of God. Don’t let your prayers become an exercise in worrying on your knees! Bring to mind the blessings of God in your life. Give thanks for all Christ has done for you and for all that you are in him. Bring your requests to God, with thanksgiving, and the peace of God will guard your heart and mind.
Luther has a wonderful comment about “the rhetoric of the Spirit.” (Rhetoric relates to speaking, and so “the rhetoric of the Spirit” is Luther’s way of describing how the Holy Spirit speaks.) “If a cross comes, to make the cross but little, but if there is a mercy, to make the mercy great.”¹
The Devil has a different way of speaking, “If there is a cross, the Devil makes it greater than it is, and so brings discontent. And if there is a mercy, it is the rhetoric of the devil to make the mercy less. ‘Aye, indeed,’ [the Devil] says, ‘the thing is a good thing, but what is it? It is no big deal.’”²
When you are listening to music, you have some choices as to how it will sound. You can turn up the treble or you can turn up the bass. The music is the same, but it will sound quite different depending on the settings that you choose.
Turn up the ‘mercies’ in the music of your life. The rhetoric of the Spirit magnifies your mercies! A person who is filled with the Holy Spirit makes more of their blessings than they make of their sorrows.
 Cited in Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, p. 155, Banner of Truth, 1964.  Ibid., p. 156.
Let’s Start Something
Brothers and sisters, can we start something here today? Can we resolve to make more of our joys than we do of our sorrows? I’m envisioning a wave of mercy-filled thanksgiving that proclaims the greatness of God’s mercy, so that our struggles, sufferings, and pains become smaller in comparison.
So many of you are suffering. So this is for you, and for the body of Christ as a whole. Do this in the privacy of prayer, or add it to your social media feeds. Make the crosses in your life but little, but if there is a mercy, make the mercy great!
Here’s mine to start:
A great mercy is going shopping at the big grocery store, and making it through without pain! #MakingMercyGreat
A few practical ideas:
Take Pastor Colin’s suggestion, and don’t let your prayers become an exercise in worrying on your knees! Make God’s mercies great, especially as you commune with God in prayer.
2. Post on Social Media (#MakingMercyGreat)
For the sake of being encouraged by each other’s mercies, let’s call it #MakingMercyGreat on social media. Any time you see God’s mercy and desire to “turn up the ‘mercies’ in the music of your life,” use the hashtag to tell us what you are thankful for!
3. Send Me an Email
I really want to hear about how God’s mercies are making your crosses but little. Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. (If I can use your “mercy” on this blog, let me know. I might put together an article with a bunch of them listed.)