WHAT IS GOD UP TO WITH CORONA?

WHAT IS GOD UP TO WITH CORONA?

Erick Raymond

“God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.” (John Piper)

I appreciate this quote because it reminds us of our limited perspective. We simply cannot see all that God is doing. But even above blind spots, we have capacity issues. Not only is God doing more than we can see, but he is also doing more than we can fathom. Therefore the first steps in Christian humility have to be in the path revealed by God’s Word. In it, we are given a divine intel briefing that helps us to know what’s going on.

Take the current pandemic, for example. If I had a buck for every time someone postulated as to what God was doing in this situation, we’d be making our church budget. There are mysteries here that we simply do not know. But there are things revealed that we do know.

Amid this current trial, we don’t know all of the things God is doing (the 9,997 things, for example), but we do know of at least three. As you and I encounter various trials, we know that God is doing these three things in our lives. In James 1:2-4, we find how what a surprising servant trials are in the hand of God.

 GOD IS PURIFYING OUR FAITH

James writes that trials test our faith (James 1:3a). The testing here has to do with a purifying or proving process. The apostle Peter brings out the nuance of the Word with a bit more texture:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 1:6-7)

The parallel is clear, trials purify our faith like fire purifies gold or other metals. Doug Moo, in his commentary on James, writes, “The difficulties of life are intended by God to refine our faith: heating it in the crucible of suffering so that impurities might be refined away and so that it might become pure and valuable before the Lord.”

To make the point further, James’s point isn’t so much about verifying the presence of faith, but testing the already present faith and making it stronger. This is what trials do.

As we lift our eyes over the horizon of self-quarantines and our ears over the continuous news reports, we hear the Word of God speak personally and practically to us.

 What is God doing during the trial of the Coronavirus? He is purifying the faith of this people.

 GOD IS CREATING ENDURANCE

When we become a Christian, we aren’t instantly zapped with maturity. Instead, God uses the sweaty and painful work sanctification to mold and make us like Jesus. Trials then produce the spiritual fortitude, the endurance that God uses to make us persevere in him.

The other day I went out for a run. While I was motivated by getting outside, enjoying the sun, and getting some fresh air, my actual goal was to get some exercise. As I got going, I felt faster. I remember thinking that I’ve improved since my last run. Then I made a right and suddenly felt a bit slower. It was harder. What happened? I turned into the wind. What was previously at my back was now in my face.

This brings up a question: were the wind and hills good for me? I guess it depends on my objective. If I was trying not to sweat, then no, they weren’t. But, if I was trying to get faster and build endurance, then they most certainly were good. It depends on the objective.

This is like trials. God brings the stiff-headwinds of adversity and the hills of difficulty in our lives to build endurance. He aims to make us more and more like Jesus. This takes work. And it takes the shape of trials. Sanctification takes place in the context of pushing through adversity. Crushing the head of Satan under our feet is hard work (Rom. 16:20). God uses trials to make us more endure.

The current circumstances bring some stiff headwinds, don’t they? Most things in life are made more difficult. Plans are canceled. Finances are drying up. People are ill. Future plans are in doubt. Lifestyles are being restricted. Church ministry has radically changed. This is difficult.

 What is God doing in the midst of this trial? He is building endurance in his people.

GOD IS MATURING HIS PEOPLE

According to James, this brings about maturity. God uses these trials to make us more like Jesus. Think about it: perfection comes at the end. And God means to get his people to the end. So how does he do it? One tool in the divine toolbox is a trial. These various trials push us more and more into Christ.

In a couple of other passages in the New Testament, we see this reflected.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope (Rom. 5:3–4)

Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. (2 Thess. 1:4)

Notice how Paul pivots off the suffering to praise God. He is worshiping while they are suffering. This would be strange if we didn’t have this crucial piece of information: God is using difficulty for our good. Hard does not mean bad. In fact, in many cases, it means blessing.

 What is God doing in the midst of this trial? He is maturing his people.

WHEN GOD ANSWERS OUR PRAYERS WITH TRIALS

Sometimes we pray and ask God to grow us and make us more like Jesus. Then to our surprise, we find ourselves neck-deep in a trial. So we pray and ask God to take it away. But what if it was God who brought the trial as the answer to our prayer for growth? John Newton’s hymn I Asked the Lord is appropriate to consider here:

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?
“‘Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

God is not only doing more than we can see; he is doing more than we can fathom. But of the infinite number of things God is doing, we can be sure that amid trials, he is doing these three things in our lives: he is purifying our faith, creating endurance, and he’s maturing us. For this reason, we can count it all joy when we encounter various trials (James 1:2).

 

OUR EYES ARE UPON THEE O GOD

OUR EYES ARE UPON THEE O GOD

J.C. Philpot

 “O our God, wilt Thou not judge them? For we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee.” [2Chr 20:12]

Jehoshaphat did not know what to do; he was altogether at his wit’s end; and yet he took the wisest course a man could take.

This is the beauty of it; that when we are fools, then we are wise; when we are weak, then we are strong; when we know not what to do, then we do the only right thing. O had Jehoshaphat taken any other course; had he collected an army, sent through Judah, raised troops and forged swords and spears he would certainly have been defeated! But not knowing what to do, he did the very thing he should do. OUR EYES ARE UPON THEE.”

 “Thou must fight our battles; thou must take the matter into Thy own hands. Our eyes are upon Thee, waiting upon thee, looking up, and hoping in Thee; believing in Thy holy name, expecting help from Thee, from whom alone help can come.” But this is painful work to be brought to this point, “Our eyes are upon Thee,” implying there is no use looking to any other quarter. It assumes that the soul has looked, and looked, and looked elsewhere in vain, and then fixed its eyes upon God as knowing that from Him alone all help must come.

This I believe to be the distinctive mark of a Christian, that his eyes are upon God. On his bed by night; in his room by day; in business or at market, when his soul is in trouble, cast down, and perplexed, his eyes are UPON GOD. From Him alone all help must come; none else can reach his case. All other but the help of God is ineffectual; it leaves him where it found him; it does him no good. We are never safe except our eyes are upon God. Let our eyes be upon Him, we can walk safely; let our eyes be upon the creature, we are pretty sure to slip and stumble.

5 LESSONS FROM SPURGEON’S MINISTRY IN A CHOLERA OUTBREAK

5 LESSONS FROM SPURGEON’S MINISTRY IN A CHOLERA OUTBREAK

Pastor Geoff Chang

As reports of the coronavirus spread around the world, pastors and church leaders are discussing how they should respond to the outbreak. Throughout church history, many pastors have worked through similar challenges. As a young village preacher, Charles Spurgeon admired the Puritan ministers who stayed behind to care for the sick and dying during the Great Plague of London in 1665.

In fall 1854, the newly called pastor of London’s New Park Street Chapel pastored the congregation amid a major cholera outbreak in the Broad Street neighborhood just across the river.

How did Spurgeon respond?

1. HE PRIORITIZED LOCAL MINISTRY.

Spurgeon wrote:

During that epidemic of cholera, though I had many engagements in the country, I gave them up that I might remain in London to visit the sick and the dying. I felt that it was my duty to be on the spot in such a time of disease and death and sorrow.

Spurgeon’s popularity had grown throughout the Fenland villages outside Cambridge during his pastorate at Waterbeach. Even after arriving in London, he continued to be invited to preach in those villages throughout the week. During the outbreak, however, Spurgeon recognized his responsibility to be present with the sick and dying. This was not a time to be an itinerant preacher; this was a time to focus on caring for his church and the community in which he lived. He would not outsource this task to his deacons or other church leaders, but remained in London in order to fulfill his duty.

2. HE ADJUSTED HIS MEETINGS, BUT CONTINUED MEETING.

The Broad Street Cholera Outbreak of 1854 occurred in August and September of that year, and its effects were felt in the weeks and months to come. The neighborhood where Spurgeon’s church met was not quarantined, so they were able to continue meeting throughout those months. Interestingly, no record of the sermons Spurgeon preached during those days remain. Perhaps the outbreak forced the congregation to adjust some of their previous practices, including the transcription of sermons. Additionally, Spurgeon was likely too busy in those days to edit sermons for publication.

Yet we know that the congregation continued meeting during those days, because the church’s minute books contain records of congregational meetings throughout fall 1854. In those books, amid all the pastoral challenges of the outbreak, Spurgeon and his deacons continued to receive new members, pursue inactive members, observe the Lord’s Supper, and practice all the other normal activities of a church. Not only that, but in retrospect it was particularly during this time, when news of death raged all around the city, that Spurgeon found Londoners most receptive to the gospel:

If there ever be a time when the mind is sensitive, it is when death is abroad. I recollect, when first I came to London, how anxiously people listened to the gospel, for the cholera was raging terribly. There was little scoffing then.

In other words, not only did Spurgeon gather his church amid the outbreak, but he saw in these gatherings a uniquely powerful opportunity for the gospel.

Given our current limitations, our greatest opportunities will likely come in the aftermath of the outbreak, when (in God’s mercy) the church is once again able to gather. Those gatherings of the church will not only be a sweet reunion of God’s people, but also a tremendous opportunity for preaching the gospel to those desperately looking for hope.

3. HE CARED FOR THE SICK.

As the pastor, Spurgeon not only continued to gather his church, but he also made himself available throughout the week, working tirelessly to visit the sick and grief-stricken:

In the year 1854, when I had scarcely been in London twelve months, the neighborhood in which I labored was visited by Asiatic cholera, and my congregation suffered from its inroads. Family after family summoned me to the bedside of the smitten, and almost every day I was called to visit the grave.

In these visits, Spurgeon prayed with the sick and grieving, and pointed them to the hope of the gospel. But more than just bringing gospel content, his presence communicated something of God’s comfort to his people. Though these visits were often full of fear and grief, there were also glorious occasions of faith and joy:

I went home, and was soon called away again; that time, to see a young woman. She also was in the last extremity, but it was a fair, fair sight. She was singing—though she knew she was dying—and talking to those round about her, telling her brothers and sisters to follow her to heaven, bidding goodbye to her father, and all the while smiling as if it had been her marriage day. She was happy and blessed.

While pastors are limited in their ability to be physically present with their people in the current outbreak, they must continue to remain in touch with their people, especially those who are must vulnerable. Through the use of technology and others means of communication, we have the responsibility to shepherd our people through this trial.

4. HE WAS OPEN TO NEW EVANGELISTIC OPPORTUNITIES.

Spurgeon did not limit himself merely to visiting members of his congregation, but was willing to visit “persons of all ranks and religions”:

All day, and sometimes all night long, I went about from house to house, and saw men and women dying, and, oh, how glad they were to see my face! When many were afraid to enter their houses lest they should catch the deadly disease, we who had no fear about such things found ourselves most gladly listened to when we spoke of Christ and of things divine.

On one occasion, at 3 a.m., Spurgeon was summoned to visit a dying man. Surprisingly, this was not a Christian, but someone who had opposed him:

That man, in his lifetime, had been wont to jeer at me. In strong language, he had often denounced me as a hypocrite. Yet he was no sooner smitten by the darts of death than he sought my presence and counsel, no doubt feeling in his heart that I was a servant of God, though he did not care to own it with his lips.

Spurgeon went right away, but by the time he arrived, there was little he could do.

I stood by his side, and spoke to him, but he gave me no answer. I spoke again; but the only consciousness he had was a foreboding of terror, mingled with the stupor of approaching death. Soon, even that was gone, for sense had fled, and I stood there, a few minutes, sighing with the poor woman who had watched over him, and altogether hopeless about his soul.

Not every evangelistic opportunity will result in dramatic conversions. But during times of disease, surprising opportunities may arise. Therefore, take advantage of any opportunities you have to preach the gospel to those who are afraid.

5. HE ENTRUSTED HIS LIFE TO GOD.

As Spurgeon gave himself to this pastoral work, he soon grew physically and mentally exhausted. He also began to fear for his own safety. Amid his fears, though, he learned to entrust himself to God and to his faithfulness:

At first, I gave myself up with youthful ardor to the visitation of the sick, and was sent for from all corners of the district by persons of all ranks and religions; but, soon, I became weary in body, and sick at heart. My friends seemed falling one by one, and I felt or fancied that I was sickening like those around me. A little more work and weeping would have laid me low among the rest; I felt that my burden was heavier than I could bear, and I was ready to sink under it.

I was returning mournfully home from a funeral, when, as God would have it, my curiosity led me to read a paper which was wafered up in a shoemaker’s window in the Great Dover Road. It did not look like a trade announcement, nor was it, for it bore, in a good bold handwriting, these words: “Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.”

The effect upon my heart was immediate. Faith appropriated the passage as her own. I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality. I went on with my visitation of the dying, in a calm and peaceful spirit; I felt no fear of evil, and I suffered no harm. The Providence which moved the tradesman to place those verses in his window, I gratefully acknowledge; and in the remembrance of its marvelous power, I adore the Lord my God.

Here, Spurgeon does not promise that no Christian will ever die of sickness. Rather, the Christian “[need] not dread [sickness], for he has nothing to lose, but everything to gain, by death.”

Once again, pastors must exercise wisdom and take appropriate precautions as they care for the sick. At the same time, our security cannot finally be in those precautions; it must be in God. As we entrust our lives to him and faithfully carry out our responsibilities, we have an opportunity to demonstrate what hope and peace look like in the midst of death.

ORDINARY MINISTRY IN EXTRAORDINARY TIMES

In many ways, Spurgeon’s example during the cholera outbreak of 1854 follows the pattern of normal pastoral ministry on every occasion. Pastors are to be present with their people, care for the suffering, be faithful in evangelism, and model trust in God through it all. The main difference is that during an outbreak, there is a heightened reality of suffering and death. Therefore, the work becomes more intense and urgent, and the opportunities for the gospel multiply.

Certainly, our task in looking to church history is not simply to copy all that was done before. This coronavirus outbreak presents unique challenges that previous pastors did not face. We need to exercise wisdom appropriate to our current day. But the core of our ministry remains: preach the gospel.

Speaking in 1866, amid another cholera outbreak, Spurgeon gave this charge to pastors and all other Christians:

And now, again, is the minister’s time; and now is the time for all of you who love souls. You may see men more alarmed than they are already; and if they should be, mind that you avail yourselves of the opportunity of doing them good. You have the Balm of Gilead; when their wounds smart, pour it in. You know of Him who died to save; tell them of Him. Lift high the cross before their eyes. Tell them that God became man that man might be lifted to God. Tell them of Calvary, and its groans, and cries, and sweat of blood. Tell them of Jesus hanging on the cross to save sinners. Tell them that: “There is life for a look at the Crucified One.”

Tell them that he is able to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by him. Tell them that he is able to save even at the eleventh hour, and to say to the dying thief, “Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise!”

 

ONLY GOD CAN TRULY RESTORE OUR LOSSES 

ONLY GOD CAN TRULY RESTORE OUR LOSSES

C.H. Spurgeon

“And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.” (Joel 2:25)

Yes, those wasted years over which we sigh shall be restored to us. God can give us such plentiful grace that we shall crowd into the remainder of our days as much of service as will be some recompense for those years of unregeneracy over which we mourn in humble penitence. The locusts of backsliding, worldliness, lukewarmness, are now viewed by us as a terrible plague.

Oh, that they had never come near us! The Lord in mercy has now taken them away, and we are full of zeal to serve Him. Blessed be His name, we can raise such harvests of spiritual graces as shall make our former barrenness to disappear. Through rich grace we can turn to account our bitter experience and use it to warn others. We can become the more rooted in humility, childlike dependence, and penitent spirituality by reason of our former shortcomings. If we are the more watchful, zealous, and tender, we shall gain by our lamentable losses.

The wasted years, by a miracle of love, can be restored. Does it seem too great a boon? Let us believe for it and live for it, and we may yet realize it, even as Peter became all the more useful a man after his presumption was cured by his discovered weakness. Lord, aid us by Thy grace. [Amen! M.J.]

THE PESTILENCE – IT SHALL NOT COME NIGH THEE!

THE PESTILENCE – IT SHALL NOT COME NIGH THEE!

Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

For He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust: His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee! [Psalm 91]

Praise the LORD! 

TIMES OF SOUL-DISTRESS, SPIRITUAL DARKNESS, AND CONFLICT ARE IN GOD’S HAND

TIMES OF SOUL-DISTRESS, SPIRITUAL DARKNESS, AND CONFLICT ARE IN GOD’S HAND

Octavius Winslow (1808-1878)

edited and rearranged by Michael Jeshurun 

“My Times are in Thy Hand.” [Psalm 31:15]

What confirmation would the precious truth contained in these words derive from the personal experience of the man of God who penned them? Reviewing the past of his eventful history, he would trace the guiding and overshadowing hand of his heavenly Father in all the circumstances of the checkered and diversified scene; and as memory thus recalled the strange and momentous events of his life, with what overpowering solemnity would the conviction force itself upon his mind, that for the form and complexion of that life how little was it indebted to himself!

Circumstances which chance could not originate, events which human sagacity could, not foresee, and results which finite experience could not determine, would at once lift his grateful and adoring thoughts to that God of infinite foreknowledge and love, whose overruling providence had guarded with a sleepless eye each circumstance, and whose infinite goodness had guided with a skillful hand each step. With this retrospect before him, with what intensity of feeling would the aged king exclaim: “My Times Are in Thy Hand.”

But if David felt this truth- that all his interests were in God’s keeping, and under His supreme direction- so consolatory, as life drew near its close, how much more cheering may it be to US just entering upon a new year of life, all whose history is, to our view, wisely and beneficently enshrouded in obscurity, and all whose events, from the least to the greatest, are happily beyond our control. “My times are in Thy hand.” Who can give us the heartfelt, soothing influence of this precious truth but the Holy Spirit by whose divine inspiration it was uttered? May He now unfold and apply with His sanctifying, comforting power this portion of his own Holy Word to the reader’s heart!

The declaration that “our times are in the Lord’s hand,” implies that the future of our history is impenetrably and mysteriously veiled from our sight. We live in a world of mysteries. They meet our eye, awaken our inquiry, and baffle our investigation at every step. Nature is a vast arcade of mysteries. Science is a mystery, truth is a mystery, religion is a mystery, our existence is a mystery, the future of our being is a mystery. And God, who alone can explain all mysteries, is the greatest mystery of all. How little do we understand of the inexplicable wonders of a wonder-working God, “whose thoughts are a great deep,” (Psa 36:6) and “whose ways are past finding out!” [Rom 11:33]

To God NOTHING is mysterious! In purpose, nothing is unfixed; in forethought, nothing is unknown; in providence, nothing is contingent. His glance pierces the future as vividly as it beholds the past. “He knows the end, from the beginning.” (Isa 46:10) All His doings are parts of a divine, eternal, and harmonious plan. He may make ”darkness His secret place; His pavilion round about Him dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies, and to human vision His dispensations may appear gloomy, discrepant, and confused; yet is He, “working all things after the counsel of His own will,” and “at the brightness that is before Him, His thick clouds pass.” and all is transparent and harmonious to His eye.

And WHY this obscurity thus investing all our future? Would it not make for our present well-being; would it not be a satisfaction and a blessing, could we pull back the mystic veil, and gaze with a farseeing and undimmed eye upon “our times,” yet awaiting us this side the grave? Remembering the past, you are, perhaps, ready to say: “Could I but have foreseen, I would have fore-arranged. Had I anticipated the result of such a step, or have known the issue of such a movement, or have safely calculated the consequences of such a measure, I might have pursued an opposite course, and have averted the evil I now deplore, and have spared me the misery I now feel.” But hush this vain reasoning! God, your God, O believer has in wisdom, faithfulness, and love, hidden all the future from your view!

“You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you these forty years.” How has He guided, counseled, and upheld you! He has led you by a right way. In perplexity He has directed you- in sorrow He has comforted you- in slippery paths His mercy has held you up, and when fallen He has raised you again. From seeming evil He has educed (brought out) positive good. The mistakes you have made and the follies you have committed in the blindness of your path, and in the sinfulness of your heart, have but led you to a closer acquaintance with, and to a stronger confidence in God. They have opened up to you new and more glorious views of His character and His government; while in leading you closer to the feet of Jesus in self-knowledge and self abhorrence, they have unlocked to you spring of spiritual blessings, fresh, sanctifying, and, unspeakable.

Beloved, God has placed us in a school in which He is teaching us to lay our blind reason at His feet, to cease from our own wisdom and guidance, and lean upon and confide in Him as children with a parent. The goodness of God to us, combined with a jealous regard to His own glory, constrains Him to conceal the path along which He conducts us. His promise is, “And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them” (Isa 42:16)…Dear child of God, your afflictions, your trials, your crosses, your losses, your sorrows – all – ALL are in your heavenly Father’s hand. They cannot come until sent by Him. Bow that stricken heart, yield that tempest-tossed soul to His sovereign disposal, to His calm, righteous sway, in the submissive spirit and language of your suffering Savior, “Not my will, but Thine, be done (Luk 22:42)!

My times of sadness and of grief are in Thy hand.”

TIMES OF SOUL-DISTRESS, SPIRITUAL DARKNESS, AND CONFLICT ARE IN HIS HAND. Many such are there in the experience of the true saints of God. Many the hard-fought battle, the fiery dart, the desperate wound, the momentary defeat in the Christian’s life…But it is in the Lord’s hand. No spiritual cloud shades, no mental distress depresses, no fiery dart is launched that is not by Him permitted, and for which there is not a provision by Him arranged. There is nothing that the Lord has taken more entirely and exclusively into His keeping than the redeemed, sanctified souls of His people. All their interests for eternity are exclusively in His hand. In the infinite fullness of Jesus, in the inexhaustible supply of the covenant, in the exceeding great and precious promises of His Word, He has anticipated every spiritual exigency of the believer.

How precious is your soul to Him Who bore all its sins, Who exhausted all its curse, Who travailed for it in ignominy and suffering, and Who ransomed it with His own most precious blood. Guarded, also, by His indwelling Spirit is His kingdom of righteousness, joy, and peace within you. Oh, endeavor to realize that, whatever be your mental exercises, spiritual conflicts, doubts and fears, your “times” of soul despondency are in the Lord’s hand.

Lodged there, safe are your spiritual interests. “All His saints are in His hand” (cf. Deu 33:3). And He to Whose care you have confided your redeemed soul has pledged Himself for its eternal security. Of His own sheep He says, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all: and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John10:28-29). With like precious faith and humble assurance, you are privileged to exclaim with Paul, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that Day!” (2Ti 1:12).

Ah! As soon shall Christ Himself perish, as one bought with His blood. No member of His body, insignificant though it may be, shall be dissevered. No temple of the Holy Spirit, frail and imperfect though it is, shall be destroyed. Not a soul to whom the divine image has been restored and the divine nature has been imparted, upon whose heart the name of Jesus has been carved, shall be involved in the final and eternal destruction of the wicked. Nothing shall perish but the earthly and the sensual. Not one grain of precious faith shall be lost, not one spark of divine light shall be extinguished, not one pulsation of spiritual life shall die!

Oh, think of this, you who have fled all sinful and trembling to Jesus, you who cling to Him…as the ivy to the oak: NEVER shall you lose that hold of faith you have on Christ, and never will Christ lose that hold of love He has on you. (see Jer 32:40) You and Jesus are one, indivisibly and eternally one. Nothing shall separate you from His love, nor sever you from His care, nor exclude you from His sympathy, nor banish you from His heaven of eternal blessedness. YOU are in Christ, the subject of His grace; and CHRIST is in you, the hope of glory (Col 1:27). All your cares are Christ’s care, all your sorrows are Christ’s sorrow, all your need is Christ’s supply, all your sicknesses are Christ’s cure, all your crosses are Christ’s burden. Your life—temporal, spiritual, eternal—is “hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:3).

Oh, the unutterable blessings that spring from a vital union with the Lord Jesus! The believer can exultingly say, “Christ and I are one! One in nature, one in affection, one in sympathy, one in fellowship, and one through the countless ages of eternity! The life I live is a life of faith in Him (Gal 2:20). I fly to Him in the confidence of a loving friend, in the simplicity of a little child, and I reveal to Him my secret sorrow. I confess to Him my hidden sin. I acknowledge my heart backsliding. I make known to Him my needs, my sufferings, my fears. I tell Him how chilled my affection is, how reserved my obedience is, how imperfect my service is, and yet how I long to love Him more ardently, to follow Him more closely, to serve Him more devotedly, to be more wholly and holily His. And how does He meet me? With a hearkening ear, with a beaming eye, with a gracious word, with an out-stretched hand with benignity and gentleness all like Himself.” Confide, then, dear reader, your spiritual and deathless interests in the Lord’s hand…

To those who, depressed with a painful foreboding at their final dissolution, are all their lifetime subject to bondage, how consolatory is the reflection that the time of the believer’s death is peculiarly in the Lord’s hand. It is solemnly true that there is a “time to die” (Ecc 3:2). Ah! Affecting thought—“a time to die!”—a time when this mortal conflict will be over; when this heart will cease to feel, alike insensible to joy or sorrow; when this head will ache and these eyes will weep no more! [It will be the] best and holiest of all: a time “when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality” (1Co 15:54), and “we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1Jo 3:2)…If this be so, then, O Christian, why this anxious, trembling fear? Your time of death, with all its attendant circumstances, is in the Lord’s hand. All is appointed and arranged by Him Who loves you and Who redeemed you—infinite goodness, wisdom, and faithfulness consulting your highest happiness in each circumstance of your departure. The final sickness cannot come, the “last enemy” cannot strike until He bids it.

All is in His hand. Then calmly, confidingly leave life’s closing scene with Him. YOU CANNOT DIE AWAY FROM JESUS! Whether your spirit wings its flight at home or abroad, amid strangers or friends, by a lingering process or by a sudden stroke, in brightness or in gloom, Jesus will be with you! Upheld by His grace and cheered with His presence, you shall triumphantly exclaim, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me!” (Psa 23:4), bearing your dying testimony to the faithfulness of God and the preciousness of His promises.

“My time to die is in your hand, O Lord, and there I calmly leave it”…In WHOSE hand are the believer’s times? In a Father’s hand. Be those times what they may, times of trial, times of temptation, times of suffering, times of peril, times of sunshine or of gloom, of life or death— THEY ARE IN A PARENT’S HAND. Is your present path lonely and dreary? Has the Lord seen fit to recall some fond blessing, to deny some earnest request, or painfully to discipline your heart? All this springs from a Father’s love as fully as though He had unlocked His treasury and poured its costliest gifts at your feet…

In a Redeemer’s hand, also, are our times. That same Redeemer Who carried our sorrows in His heart, our curse and transgressions on His soul, our cross on His shoulder, Who died, Who rose again, Who lives and intercedes for us, and Who will gather all His ransomed around Him in glory is your Guardian and your Guide. Can you not cheerfully confide all your earthly concerns, all your spiritual interests to His keeping and control? “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” (1Pe 5:7)? “Oh, yes!” faith replies, “in that hand that still bears in its palm the print of the nail are all my times. ‘I will trust, and not be afraid’! (Isa 12:2)

 Let us, in conclusion, trace the practical influence that this truth should exert upon our minds…Let this precious truth, “My times are in Thy hand,” divest your mind of all needless, anxious care for the present or the future. Exercising simple faith in God…“Be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb 13:5). Learn to be content with your present lot, with God’s dealings with and His disposal of you.

You are just where His providence has, in its [mysterious] but all-wise and righteous decision, placed you. It may be a painful, irksome, trying position, BUT IT IS RIGHT. Oh, yes! It is right! Only aim to glorify Him in it. Wherever you are placed, God has a work for you to do, a purpose through you to be accomplished, in which He blends your happiness with His glory. And when you have learned the lessons of His love, He will transfer you to another and a wider sphere…

 STRIVE, THEN [BY FAITH], TO LIVE A LIFE OF DAILY DEPENDENCE UPON GOD. Oh, it is a sweet and holy life! It saves from many a desponding feeling, from many a corroding care, from many an anxious thought, from many a sleepless night, from many a tearful eye, and from many an imprudent and sinful scheme…Oh, yes! beloved reader, thank God that your times, your interests, your salvation, are all out of your hands, and out of the hands of all creatures, supremely and safely in His. Forward in the path of duty, of labor, and of suffering. Aim to resemble Christ more closely in your disposition, your spirit, your whole life. Soon will it be said, “The Master is come, and calleth for thee” (John 11:28)…Patient in endurance, submissive in suffering, content with God’s allotment, zealous, prayerful, and watchful—be found standing in “thy lot at the end of the days” (Dan 12:13).

TRUST GOD IMPLICITLY FOR THE FUTURE! No sorrow comes but shall open some sweet spring of comfort…No affliction befalls but shall be attended with the Savior’s tenderest sympathy…Let your constant prayer be “Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe” (Psa 119:17). Let your daily precept be “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” (1Pe 5:7). And then leave God to fulfill, as most faithfully He will, His own gracious, precious promise, “As thy days, so shall thy strength be” (Deu 33:25). Thus walking with God through this valley of tears until you exchange sorrow for joy, suffering for ease, sin for purity, labor for rest, conflict for victory, and all earth’s checkered, gloomy scenes for the changeless, cloudless happiness and glory of heaven. Amen!

Praise the LORD!

STONE OR BREAD, FISH OR SERPENT?

STONE OR BREAD, FISH OR SERPENT?

“What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? — [Matt 7:9,10]

No loving father would give a stone or a snake to his hungry son if he asked for a piece of bread or a fish. Jesus used the absurdity of that analogy in Matthew 7 to underscore the heavenly Father’s readiness to give good things to His children when they ask Him. He wanted them to have complete confidence in the Father’s provision for their spiritual needs.

Sometimes, however, it may seem as if the Lord has given us “stones” instead of “bread.” But in His wisdom, He actually is working through our circumstances to give us something far better than what we requested. An unknown author expressed it this way:

I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked God for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn to obey.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power and the praise of men;
I was given weakness to sense my need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing I asked for but everything I hoped for;
In spite of myself, my prayers were answered—
I am among all men most richly blessed.

Yes, God always gives us what’s best for us.

We ask amiss, but God answers aright!

Praise the Lord!

THE GOD WHO FEEDS HIS CHILDREN ALL THEIR LIVES

THE GOD WHO FEEDS HIS CHILDREN ALL THEIR LIVES

C.H. Spurgeon

The old man’s voice faltered as he said, “The God which fed me all my life long.” The translation would be better if it ran, “The God which shepherded me all my life long.”

He spoke of the Lord as his Shepherd. Jacob had been a shepherd and, therefore, he knew what shepherding included—the figure is full of meaning. There had been a good deal of Jacob about Jacob and he had tried to shepherd himself. Poor sheep that he was, while under his own guidance he had been caught in many thorns and had wandered in many wildernesses. Because he would be so much a shepherd to himself, he had been hard put to it. But over all, despite his wilfulness, the shepherding of the Covenant God had been exercised towards him and he acknowledged it.

O dear saints of God, you to whom years are being multiplied, give praise to your God for having been your Shepherd! You delight in the 23rd Psalm—sing it sometimes with variations by using the past tense—”The Lord has been my Shepherd and I have known no need. He has made me to lie down in green pastures; He has led me beside the still waters. Yes, though I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death in times of great darkness, yet I have feared no evil: for He has been with me, His rod and His staff have comforted me.” Bear your witness to the shepherding of God, for this may lead others to become the sheep of His pasture.

This shepherding had been perfect. Our version rightly says that the Lord had fed Jacob all his life long. Take that sense of it and you who have a daily struggle for subsistence will see much beauty in it. Jacob had a large family and yet they were fed. Some of you say, “It is all very well of you to talk of Providence when you have few to provide for.” I answer, it is better, still, to talk of Providence where a large household requires large provision! Remember Jacob had 13 children, yet his God provided them bread to eat and clothes to put on. None of that large company were left to starve.

You think, perhaps, that Jacob was a man of large estate. He was not so when he began life. He was only a working man—a shepherd. When he left his father’s house he had no attendants with camels and tents. I suppose he carried his little bit of provision in a handkerchief and when he laid down that night to sleep, with a stone for his pillow, the hedges for curtains, the heavens for his canopy, and the earth for his bed, he had no fear of being robbed.

God was with him, but apart from that, he had nothing to begin life with but his own hands. Whatever he received from his father Isaac afterwards, he had at first to fight his own way—but he knew no lack either at the beginning or at the end, for he could speak of the great Elohim as, “the God which fed me all my life long.” Hundreds of us can say the same! I remember one who came to be wealthy who used to show me with great pleasure the tree axle of the truck in which he used to wheel his goods through the streets when he began in business—I liked to see him mindful of his original.

Mind you do not go and say, “See how I have got on by my own talents and industry!” Talk not so proudly, but say, “GOD HAS FED ME.” Mercies are all the sweeter when seen to come from the hand of God.
But besides being FED, Jacob had been LED, even as sheep are guided by the shepherd who goes before them. His journeys, for that period, had been unusually long, perilous and frequent. He had fled from home to Padanaram. After long years he had come back to Canaan and had met his brother, Esau. And after that, in his old age he had journeyed into Egypt. To go to California or New Zealand in these times is nothing at all compared to those journeys in Jacob’s day! But he says, “God has shepherded me all my life long” and he means that the great changes of his life had been wisely ordered. At home and in exile, in Canaan and in Goshen, God had been a shepherd to him. He sees the good hand of God upon him in all his wanderings, until he now finds himself sitting up on his bed and blessing Joseph through his sons.

Oh that the Holy Spirit may make you feel that you need God with you with wealth as much as your fathers needed God without wealth! You may yet come to beggary with all your inheritance if you cast off the fear of the Lord and fall into sin. You who begin life with nothing but your own brains and hands, trusting in your father’s God, shall yet have to sing as your fathers sang, “the God which fed me all my life long.”

Young men and young women beginning life, I charge you seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness! It is not life to live without God—you miss the kernel, the cream, the crown of life if you miss the Presence of God! Life is but a bubble blown up of toil and trouble without God! Life ends in blighted hope if you have not hope in God. But with God you are as a sheep with a Shepherd—cared for, guided, guarded, fed, led—and your end shall be peace without end!

GEORGE MUELLER THE CALVINIST

GEORGE MUELLER THE CALVINIST

Most people only know George Mueller as someone who cared for Orphans and educated them and had great testimonies of God’s miraculous supply for his ministry. But few know that what influenced Mueller to be the man he was and do the ministry he did was his conversion to the Doctrines of Grace which goes by the nickname ‘Calvinism’.

For the benefit of those who are new to the Faith and may not have heard of George Mueller, we must start with some introduction –

George Mueller was a native German (a Prussian). He was born in Kroppenstaedt on September 27, 1805 and lived almost the entire nineteenth century. He died March 10, 1898 at the age of 92. He saw the great awakening of 1859 which he said “led to the conversion of hundreds of thousands.” He did follow up work for D. L. Moody, preached for Charles Spurgeon, and inspired the missionary faith of Hudson Taylor.

He had read his Bible from end to end almost 200 times. He had prayed in millions of dollars (in today’s currency) for the Orphans and never asked anyone directly for money. He never took a salary in the last 68 years of his ministry, but trusted God to put in people’s hearts to send him what he needed. He never took out a loan or went into debt. And neither he nor the orphans were ever hungry.

GEORGE MULLER’S REGENERATION

His father was an unbeliever and George grew up a liar and a thief, by his own testimony. His mother died when he was 14, and he records no impact that this loss had on him except that while she was dying he was roving the streets with his friends “half intoxicated.” He went on living a bawdy life, and then found himself in prison for stealing when he was 16 years old. His father paid to get him out, beat him, and took him to live in another town (Schoenbeck). Mueller used his academic skills to make money by tutoring in Latin, French, and mathematics. Finally his father sent him to the University of Halle to study divinity and prepare for the ministry because that would be a good living. Neither he nor George had any spiritual aspirations. Of the 900 divinity students in Halle, Mueller later estimated that maybe nine feared the Lord.

Then on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of November, 1825, when Mueller was 20 years old, he was invited to a Bible study and, by the grace of God, felt the desire to go. “It was to me as if I had found something after which I had been seeking all my life long. I immediately wished to go.” “They read the Bible, sang, prayed, and read a printed sermon.” To his amazement Mueller said, “The whole made a deep impression on me. I was happy; though, if I had been asked, why I was happy I could not have clearly explained it. “I have not the least doubt, that on that evening, [God] began a work of grace in me. . . . That evening was the turning point in my life.”

That’s true. But there was another turning point four years later that the biographies do not open for the reader, but which for Mueller was absolutely decisive in shaping the way he viewed God and the way he did ministry.

GEORGE MULLER’S CONVERSION TO THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE

He came to England in the hope of being a missionary with the London Missionary Society. Soon he found his theology and ministry convictions turning away from the LMS, until there was a break. In the meantime, a momentous encounter happened.

Mueller became sick (thank God for providential sickness!) and in the summer of 1829 he went for recovery to a town called Teignmouth. There in a little chapel called Ebenezer at least two crucial discoveries were made: the preciousness of reading and meditating on the word of God, and the truth of the doctrines of grace. For ten days Mueller lived with a nameless man who changed his life forever. Mueller said, “Through the instrumentality of this brother the Lord bestowed a great blessing upon me, for which I shall have cause to thank Him throughout eternity.

Before this period I had been much opposed to the doctrines of election, particular redemption, and final persevering grace; so much so that, a few days after my arrival at Teignmouth, I called election a devilish doctrine. . . I knew nothing about the choice of God’s people, and did not believe that the child of God, when once made so, was safe for ever. . . . But now I was brought to examine these precious truths by the word of God.”

He was led to embrace the doctrines of grace—the robust, mission-minded, soul-winning, orphan-loving Calvinism that marked William Carey, who died in 1834, and that would mark Charles Spurgeon, who was born in 1834. About forty years later, in 1870, Mueller spoke to some young believers about the importance of what had happened to him at Teignmouth. He said that his preaching had been fruitless for four years from 1825 to 1829 in Germany, but then he came to England and was taught the doctrines of grace.

“In the course of time I came to this country, and it pleased God then to show to me the doctrines of grace in a way in which I had not seen them before. At first I hated them, “If this were true I could do nothing at all in the conversion of sinners, as all would depend upon God and the working of His Spirit.” But when it pleased God to reveal these truths to me, and my heart was brought to such a state that I could say, “I am not only content simply to be a hammer, an axe, or a saw, in God’s hands; but I shall count it an honor to be taken up and used by Him in any way; and if sinners are converted through my instrumentality, from my inmost soul I will give Him all the glory; the Lord gave me to see fruit; the Lord gave me to see fruit in abundance; sinners were converted by scores; and ever since God has used me in one way or other in His service.”

This discovery of the all-encompassing sovereignty of God became the foundation of Mueller’s confidence in God to answer his prayers for money. He gave up his regular salary. He refused to ask people directly for money. He prayed and published his reports about the goodness of God and the answers to his prayer. These yearly reports were circulated around the world, and they clearly had a huge effect in motivating people to give to the orphan work. Mueller knew that God used means. In fact, he loved to say, “Work with all your might; but trust not in the least in your work.” But he also insisted that his hope was in God alone, not his exertions and not the published reports. These means could not account for the remarkable answers that he received.

Mueller’s faith that his prayers for money would be answered was rooted in the sovereignty of God. When faced with a crisis in having the means to pay a bill he would say, “How the means are to come, I know not; but I know that God is almighty, that the hearts of all are in His hands, and that, if He pleaseth to influence persons, they will send help.” That is the root of his confidence: God is almighty, the hearts of all men are in his hands, and when God chooses to influence their hearts they will give.

He had come to know and love this absolute sovereignty of God in the context of the doctrines of grace, and therefore he cherished it mainly as sovereign goodness. This gave him a way to maintain a personal peace beyond human understanding in the midst of tremendous stress and occasional tragedy. “The Lord never lays more on us,” he said, “in the way of chastisement, than our state of heart makes needful; so that whilst He smites with the one hand, He supports with the other.” In the face of painful circumstances he says, “I bow, I am satisfied with the will of my Heavenly Father, I seek by perfect submission to His holy will to glorify Him, I kiss continually the hand that has thus afflicted me.”

And when he is about to lose a piece of property that he wants for the next orphan house, he says, “If the Lord were to take this piece of land from me, it would be only for the purpose of giving me a still better one; for our Heavenly Father never takes any earthly thing from His children except He means to give them something better instead.” This is what I mean by confidence in God’s sovereign goodness. This is the root of Mueller’s faith and ministry.

When he was 71 years old, Mueller spoke to younger believers:

“I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the word of God, and to meditation on it. . . . What is the food of the inner man? Not prayer, but the word of God; and . . . not the simple reading of the word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts.”

Which brings us back now the satisfaction of Mueller’s soul at the death of his wife, Mary. He said, “My heart was at rest. I was satisfied with God. And all this springs, as I have often said before, from taking God at his word, believing what he says.”

The aim of George Mueller’s life was to glorify God by helping people take God at his word. To that end he saturated his soul with the word of God. At one point he said that he reads the Bible five or ten times more than he reads any other books. His aim was to see God in Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead in order that he might maintain the happiness of his soul in God. By this deep satisfaction in God George Mueller was set free from the fears and lusts of the world. And in this freedom of love he chose a strategy of ministry and style of life that put the reality and trustworthiness and beauty of God on display. To use his own words, his life became a “visible proof to the unchangeable faithfulness of the Lord.

He was sustained in this extraordinary life by his deep convictions that God is sovereign over the human heart and can turn it where he wills in answer to prayer; and that God is sovereign over life and death; and that God is good in his sovereignty and withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly.

George Mueller wrote –
“I had not before seen from the Scriptures that the Father chose us before the foundation of the world; that in Him that wonderful plan of our redemption originated, and that He also appointed all the means by which it was to be brought about…

Before this period I had been much opposed to the doctrines of election, particular redemption, and final persevering grace: so much so that, a few days after my arrival at Teignmouth I called election a devilish doctrine. I did not believe that I had brought myself to the Lord, for that was too manifestly false; but yet I held, that I might have resisted finally. And further, I knew nothing about the choice of God’s people, and did not believe that the child of God, when once made so; was safe for ever. In my fleshly mind I had repeatedly said, “If once I could prove that I am a child of God for ever, I might go back into the world for a year or two, and then return to the Lord, and at last be saved”.

But now I was brought to examine these precious truths by the word of God. Being made willing to have no glory of my own in the conversion of sinners, but to consider myself merely as an instrument; and being made willing to receive what the Scriptures said; I went to the Word, reading the New Testament from the beginning, with a particular reference to these truths. To my great astonishment I found that the passages which speak decidedly for election and persevering grace were about four times as many as those which speak apparently against these truths; and even those few, shortly after, when I had examined and understood them, served to confirm me in the above doctrines. As to the effect which my belief in these doctrines had on me, I am constrained to state, for God’s glory, that though I am still exceedingly weak, and by no means so dead to the lusts of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, as I might and as I ought to be, yet, by the grace of God, I have walked more closely with Him since that period.

My life has not been so variable, and I may say that I have lived much more for God than before. And for this have I been strengthened by the Lord, in a great measure, through the instrumentality of these truths. For in the time of temptation, I have been repeatedly led to say: “Should I thus sin? I should only bring misery into my soul for a time, and dishonour God; for, being a son of God for ever, I should have to be brought back again, though it might be in the way of severe chastisement”.

Thus, I say, the electing love of God in Christ (when I have been able to realize it) has often been, the means of producing holiness, instead of leading me into sin. It is only the notional apprehension of such truths, the want of having them in the heart, whilst they are in the head, which is dangerous.”

[Quoted from the Biography of George Mueller by John Piper and a few others]

SOMETIMES THERE IS JUST NOTHING TO SAY

SOMETIMES THERE IS JUST NOTHING TO SAY

Gina Kemp

Sometimes there is just nothing to say. There are some things that happen in life that words won’t heal.

There are some things that take our breath away that only silence can breathe life back into our lungs.

They are the things of life that are beyond someone giving a kind word, a positive hopeful thought, a story of so and so who went through this and that and made it through, a good sermon, an uplifting song. I mean don’t get me wrong, these things help especially when they are blanketed by the truth of God’s word but somewhere a midst the things of life that exceed the realm of platitudes there are just some things that happen that can’t be healed by us and our feeble human attempts.

I think of Job, I think of all he suffered, loss of family, loss of things, loss of identity, loss of hope. I think of how his body betrayed him and words fell flat. Have you been here? Have you been in this place? The place where your bones ache? The place where your mind craves hope against hope and there seems to be none? Have you been here?

Job was here. He was tired. He was weak. He was emptied out. We are familiar with the story and of how his friends abused his soul by contributing nothing but awful platitudes and assumptions of his deserving this, crushing him further into his pain. Job’s friends made some poor choices. While perhaps they intended to help they inflicted more pain, they would have done him well to continue in the manner they started with when they first came to offer their condolences:

Silence.

In silence they sat with him. In silence they listened to his pain. In silence they nodded to his pangs of sour grapes and allowed him to borrow their comfort without words being spoken.

“So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.” [Job 2:13]

They didn’t offer great explanations for why this happened. They didn’t say “God has a plan for your life”
They didn’t say “Well maybe if you prayed more”
They didn’t say “Well maybe it was to teach you a lesson”
They didn’t say “God has a great testimony for you out of this pain”

All of those things are quite possibly true in some of our stories. God does use our pain. God does have plans. After all…He is God. But there are some circumstances in which saying these things doesn’t mend our severed hope.

Maybe it makes us feel like we are helping…
Maybe it’s our way of hoping…
Maybe we feel like it’s the right thing to say because it’s the only thing we know to say…

But sometimes the offering of just being there is enough and sometimes it is better.

I can think of times in my life when my heart was so sad I just couldn’t cry. I just sat and let myself be what I was. I think of the friends in my life who didn’t have words but sat with me and let me be and were just with me.

Sometimes when someone suffers we say nothing and skip over it, changing the subject. This is not the kind of silence I’m referring to. If you have ever opened your heart to someone about your pain and they said nothing as though you said nothing you know the damage this creates. Saying nothing while being with the person in this place of needing to be silent is the kind of saying nothing I’m referring to. The kind that says “I can’t fix this but I’m here”, “I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but I’m here”, “I am here.”

Henri Nouwen has one of the best quotes regarding silence, friendship, and comfort:
“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.”

Perhaps it’s just being there that speaks louder than words in times like these. When there is nothing to say, sometimes saying nothing and just being is saying more than you could ever imagine.

I need to remember this, sometimes being a person of many words and wanting to fix, help, cure, it might be in my own silence that God can speak even louder to those who need comfort. I can think of a few people in my life right now who are going through circumstances that my words can’t fix, but maybe my just being there is part of healing.

If you are in a place of needing comfort, I pray that God will speak to you in your silence. Where words fail, I pray that His perfect word would speak into places that no human ever could.

“Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”. [Psalm 119:105]

“Thou, which hast showed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth. Thou shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side”. [Psalm 71:20-21]