Extreme Thanks

The Cleft

The cleft of the Rock has been on my mind this week. Now I know why. I started this article a couple of days ago, and it stalled out. Now I know why.

Today, I tested positive for Covid-19, and that’s okay. It’s a thing. As such it is just one more thing to add to the list of “all things” for which I am thankful. (Just so you know, my symptoms are mild. It actually feels more like a bout of chronic allergic bronchitis, which I’ve dealt with off and on for 40+ years. If I had not also had a low grade fever, I would not have gone in for the test.)

What does that have to do with the cleft of the Rock? What does it mean when we sing “Rock of Ages, cleft for me?” Our Lord Jesus is the Rock, the Rock of Ages. The only “cleft”—cut, gash, crag, opening—in Him is the Cross of Calvary. It is our safe place. When Jesus began His healing ministry, in Matthew 8:17, the apostle writes “This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.'” That passage is from Isaiah 53, a prophecy of the suffering Servant and a clear prophecy of the cross. It was on the basis of His Cross that Jesus healed! In Matthew 8! Before the Cross!

The Cross is the focal point of history, and the focal point of the life of the believer. No. It doesn’t end there, it leads to the resurrection, which leads back to the cross, which leads to the resurrection: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Life always comes out of death.

Dying experiences. Suffering experiences. Hard experiences. Loss. If we approach these in the victory of the Cross, we will see them through to the victory of the Resurrection.

As I consider my Covid-19 diagnosis, I am eager to see what God’s going to do with it. One thing I know for sure is that on the basis of the Cross, this disease will be of no effect as a tool of Satan in my life. Hebrews 2:14—”Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.” “Render powerless” literally means “made of no effect,” or “made a non-work.” It’s a doing that doesn’t produce a deed. A working that doesn’t produce a result. Yes, I believe there are angels and demons. Yes, I believe there is a fallen angel, Satan, the accuser, who seeks to come between man and his Creator and to destroy our faith. And, that is what it’s all about from his perspective. He could care less if I am sick or healthy. He just wants me distracted. If he can do that with sickness, he’ll give it a shot. However, if it results in my turning in faith to my Creator and thanking Him for His faithfulness and claiming the victory of the Cross, then the enemy’s efforts failed to produce the intended results, and his works are of “no effect.” Even if I stay sick awhile. Even if I die. This isn’t a flesh and blood battle, and my victory is fixed and sure.

And, child of God, an “attitude of gratitude” isn’t going to accomplish this. I won’t knock it, because it is a starting place for many people in learning to be thankful. What is needed, though, is extreme gratitude and extreme thankfulness—always giving thanks for all things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.