But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.’ Luke 16:25
At first sight it may seem that Jesus is saying here that the rich man went to hell for being rich and the poor man (Lazarus) went to heaven for being poor. The truth is that both were judged on the basis of their attitude to the hand of God in their lives. Faith creates a submissive attitude that honours God by the way we live. The rich man hardened his heart to the cry of the poor, and never reflected on the goodness of God in his circumstances. It never occurred to him to share what he had. Though nothing is known about Lazarus’ faith, the implication is that suffering had brought him to a brokenness and trust in God in his helpless condition. The balances of God weigh human hearts, both in this life and in the next. Should pain and hardship bring us to our senses, the day will come when we will thank God for it. Should blessing and wealth dull us to our spiritual debt to God, then the day will come when we may wish we had never seen them. Pain and luxury, poverty and riches are all tests. It is God who knows whom He will test – some this way and some that. It is vital to reflect on how God is challenging us by things He has placed in our lives. We cry to God to speak to us, and He answers with a hand that carves our circumstances. At one point in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, the intrepid children are searching for some writing, and spend hours walking through deep trenches that are in fact the words themselves, carved in the mountainside, and that can only be read from an elevated position. We are walking through God’s word to us, carved out in the circumstances through which we tread.
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