This morning, I would like to share with you two writings on the topic of suffering in the Christian life. One from Charles Spurgeon (English Pastor in 1800s) and another one from Samuel Rutherford (Scottish Pastor in 1600s). They help us keep a biblical perspective on the trials and sorrows that we experience as we follow the Lord and seek to honor him. As painful as trials are, we know that through them we live closer to Christ and are conformed more to His image. I pray that you will abound in hope as you trust the Lord and His gracious promises.
Charles Spurgeon writes the following devotional thoughts from 1 Peter 1:7, "The tested genuineness of your faith"
- Faith untried may be true faith, but it is sure to be little faith, and it is likely to remain dwarfish so long as it is without trials. Faith never prospers so well as when all things are against her: tempests are her trainers, and lightnings are her illuminators. When a calm reigns on the sea, spread the sails as you will, the ship moves not to its harbour; for on a slumbering ocean the keel sleeps too. Let the winds rush howling forth, and let the waters lift up themselves, then, though the vessel may rock, and her deck may be washed with waves, and her mast may creak under the pressure of the full and swelling sail, it is then that she makes headway towards her desired haven. No flowers wear so lovely a blue as those which grow at the foot of the frozen glacier; no stars gleam so brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky; no water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand; and no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity. Tried faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own weakness had you not been compelled to pass through the rivers; and you would never have known God's strength had you not been supported amid the water-floods. Faith increases in solidity, assurance, and intensity, the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and its trial is precious too. Let not this, however, discourage those who are young in faith. You will have trials enough without seeking them: the full portion will be measured out to you in due season. Meanwhile, if you cannot yet claim the result of long experience, thank God for what grace you have; praise him for that degree of holy confidence whereunto you have attained: walk according to that rule, and you shall yet have more and more of the blessing of God, till your faith shall remove mountains and conquer impossibilities.
Samuel Rutherford wrote the following thoughts in a letter during a time of intense suffering for the faith:
- If your Lord calls you to suffering, do not be dismayed, for He will provide a deeper portion of Christ in your suffering. The softest pillow will be placed on your head, though you must set your bare feet among thorns. Do not be afraid at suffering for Christ, for He has a sweet peace for a sufferer. For God has called you to Christ’s side. And if the wind is now in His face, you cannot expect to rest on the sheltered side of the hill. You cannot be above your Master who received many an innocent stroke. The greatest temptation out of hell is to live without trials. A pool of standing water will turn stagnant. You cannot sneak quietly into heaven without a cross. Crosses form us into His image. They cut away pieces of our corruption. Lord cut, carve, wound! Lord, do anything to perfect Your image in us and make us fit for glory! We need winnowing before we enter the Kingdom of God. Oh, what I owe to the file, hammer, and furnace. Why should I be surprised at the plow that makes such deep furrows in my soul? Whatever direction the wind blows, it will blow to the Lord. His hand will direct us safely to the heavenly shore to find the weight of eternal glory. As we look back to our pain and suffering, we shall see that suffering is not worthy to be compared to our first night’s welcome home in heaven. If we could smell of heaven, and our country above, our crosses would not bite us. Lay all your loads by faith on Christ. Ease yourself, and let Him bear all. He can. He does. And He will bear you. Whether God comes with a rod or a crown, He comes with Himself. “Have courage! I am your salvation.” Welcome, welcome Jesus.