For one reason or another I was recently revisiting Matthew Henry’s little book, The Communicant’s Companion. Talking about expecting a blessing from the Lord’s supper, Matthew Henry says this:
“Let us come to this ordinance with raised expectations. … The maker of the feast is God himself, who doth nothing little, nothing mean, but is able to do exceeding abundantly above what we are able to ask or think. When he gives, he gives like himself, gives like a king, gives like a God, all things richly to enjoy – considering not what it becomes such ungrateful wretches as we are to receive, but what it becomes such a bountiful benefactor as he is to give.”
The Lord’s Supper is a place where individual sin and unworthiness is brought into particular focus along with the undeserved mercy of the Lord: ungrateful and displeasing wretches receiving all sorts of riches of mercy.
But Henry’s line of argument can be extended to other areas of life too. If we only considered the messy horrible situations that exist all over the place – thinking particularly at the moment of the church itself, although it also applies to society at large and our individual circumstances – there would be nothing left apart from total depression and despair. But there is still help available, as long as we don’t expect it on account of the absence of problems on our side.
There’s no reason, in other words, to expect blessings for the church when it has all sorts of disasters and blots in its record. But other people have been in similar situations in the past, and they resorted to just this argument. “O my God, incline thine ear, and hear … for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercy.” Dan 9:18.
Keep your expectations low, incidentally, about how much activity you’ll see from me over the next several days. I’ll be parted from my laptop for even more extended periods than normal – E-Prime issues; be grateful if that doesn’t mean anything to you – and it’s going to be a busy week anyway.