Tag Archives: God’s Love
“Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said”:
“No, I will not abandon you as orphans, I will come to you.”John 14:18
Does the Christian’s path lie all the way through Beulah? No, he is forewarned it is to be one of “much tribulation.”
He has his Marahs as well as his Elims—his valleys of Baca as well as his grapes of Eschol.
Often is he left un-befriended to bear the brunt of the storm—his gourds fading when most needed—his sun going down while it is yet day—his happy home and happy heart darkened in a moment with sorrows with which a stranger (with which often a brother) cannot understand.
There is One Brother “born for adversity” who can.
How often has that voice broken with its silvery accents the muffled stillness of the sick-chamber!
“I will not leave you comfortless: the world may, friends may, the desolations of bereavement and death may; but I will not; you will be alone, yet not alone, for I your Savior and your God will be with you!”
Jesus seems to have a special love and affection for His orphaned and comfortless people. A father loves his sick and sorrowing child most; of all his household, that child occupies most of his thoughts.
Christ seems to delight to lavish His deepest sympathy on “him that has no helper.”
It is in the hour of sorrow His people have found Him most precious; it is in “the wilderness” He speaks most “comfortable unto them;” He gives them “their vineyards from thence”; in the places they least expected, wells of heavenly consolation break forth at their feet.
As Jonathan of old, when faint and weary, had his strength revived by the honey he found dropping in the tangled thicket; so the faint and woe-worn children of God find “honey in the wood”; everlasting consolation dropping from the tree of life, in the midst of the thorniest thickets of affliction.
Comfortless ones, be comforted! Jesus often makes you portionless here in this world, to drive you to Himself, the everlasting portion! He often dries every rill and fountain of earthly bliss, that He may lead you to say, “All my springs are in You.”
“He seems intend,” says one who could speak from experience, “to fill up every gap love has been forced to make; one of his errands from heaven was to bind up the broken-hearted.”
How beautifully in one amazing verse does He conjoin the depth and tenderness of his comfort with the certainty of it—“As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you, and you SHALL be comforted!”
Ah, how many would not have their wilderness-state altered, with all its trials, and gloom, and sorrow, just that they might enjoy the unutterable sympathy and love of this Comforter of the comfortless, one ray of whose approving smile can dispel the deepest earthly gloom!
As the clustering constellations shine with the most intense luster in the midnight sky, so these “words of Jesus” come out like ministering angels in the deep dark night of earthly sorrow. We may see no beauty in them when the world is sunny and bright; but He has laid them up in store for us for the dark and cloudy day.
“These things have I told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.”
by John MacDuff
This morning as I woke I noticed the pain I sleep with every night was a little worse. As I stood in front of the medicine cabinet downing my growing list of prescriptions I realized how little I think about dealing with a Chronic Illness from a spiritual perspective. I try to function as best as I can and get on with my day. I know people who suffer so much every day with so many more problems and pain than I do, so it’s not something I really think about very often unless it’s to be thankful to God that things are not worse.
Lately it’s been a huge battle for me, mentally and physically and the hardest part is having no one to talk to about it, or no one that understands. I have heard this same thing from so many folks in similar situations and it’s tough. “You don’t look sick” does not really make things feel better, even though the person saying that may not necessarily mean to be rude or insensitive, it’s not particularly helpful. I am learning that as a Christian I am so blessed to have a Lord and Savior who has been through every hurt, every overlooked emotion, every struggle and He cares for me. I am blessed beyond measure to know that He listens to me, and understands completely. In all my searching I could never find a friend that valuable. Our sermon at Church last night was such a blessing and it discussed these very topics, I hope to post it sometime this week but in the meantime J.C. Ryle shared his thoughts on the subject. They helped me so much this morning and I hope someone else is as blessed by his words as I am today.
Sickness is meant…
1. To make us think—to remind us that we have a soul as well as a body—an immortal soul—a soul that will live forever in happiness or in misery—and that if this soul is not saved we had better never have been born.
2. To teach us that there is a world beyond the grave—and that the world we now live in is only a training-place for another dwelling, where there will be no decay, no sorrow, no tears, no misery, and no sin.
3. To make us look at our past lives honestly, fairly, and conscientiously. Am I ready for my great change if I should not get better? Do I repent truly of my sins? Are my sins forgiven and washed away in Christ’s blood? Am I prepared to meet God?
4. To make us see the emptiness of the world and its utter inability to satisfy the highest and deepest needs of the soul.
5. To send us to our Bibles. That blessed Book, in the days of health, is too often left on the shelf, becomes the safest place in which to put a bank-note, and is never opened from January to December. But sickness often brings it down from the shelf and throws new light on its pages.
6. To make us pray. Too many, I fear, never pray at all, or they only rattle over a few hurried words morning and evening without thinking what they do. But prayer often becomes a reality when the valley of the shadow of death is in sight.
7. To make us repent and break off our sins. If we will not hear the voice of mercies, God sometimes makes us “hear the rod.”
8. To draw us to Christ. Naturally we do not see the full value of that blessed Savior. We secretly imagine that our prayers, good deeds, and sacrament-receiving will save our souls. But when flesh begins to fail, the absolute necessity of a Redeemer, a Mediator, and an Advocate with the Father, stands out before men’s eyes like fire, and makes them understand those words, “Simply to Your cross I cling,” as they never did before. Sickness has done this for many—they have found Christ in the sick room.
9. To make us feeling and sympathizing towards others. By nature we are all far below our blessed Master’s example, who had not only a hand to help all, but a heart to feel for all. None, I suspect, are so unable to sympathize as those who have never had trouble themselves—and none are so able to feel as those who have drunk most deeply the cup of pain and sorrow.
Summary: Beware of fretting, murmuring, complaining, and giving way to an impatient spirit. Regard your sickness as a blessing in disguise—a good and not an evil—a friend and not an enemy. No doubt we should all prefer to learn spiritual lessons in the school of ease and not under the rod. But rest assured that God knows better than we do how to teach us. The light of the last day will show you that there was a meaning and a “need be” in all your bodily ailments. The lessons that we learn on a sick-bed, when we are shut out from the world, are often lessons which we should never learn elsewhere.
~ J.C. Ryle
Tract: Christ in the Sick Room
The trials of life can often discourage even the strongest and most mature Christian. Disturbing news, illness and all sorts of human suffering can cause us to long for our heavenly home and sometimes overlook the blessings we have here on planet earth. God in His mercy and love has promised to meet our needs on our sometimes trying journey home.
I believe one of our greatest blessings is the love and joy of walking that path with our fellow pilgrims. God has blessed me with the friendship of Godly Christian bloggers, who are not only my Sisters in Christ, but they have become like Sisters in real life too. Love, laughter and the joy of sweet fellowship can ease the stress of many burdens. One of my precious Sisters in Christ, Diana Lovegrove has the most uplifting post this morning on her blog “Waiting for our blessed Hope” Read it here: http://waitingforourblessedhope.blogspot.com/2011/06/love-laughter-and-friends.html
I know Diana’s post will bless you, and for some more words of wisdom on the subject of laughter I have shared the writings of J.R. Miller below. Love and blessings to you today dear reader, may God grant you peace, joy and a good dose of laughter today on your journey!
The Duty of Laughter
J. R. Miller
They tell us that laughter is dying out among men. If so, it is a pity. The Wise Man says that “there is a time to laugh.” That is, there is a time when laughter is right, when it is a duty—and when it would be wrong not to laugh. Perhaps we have not been accustomed to think of laughter in this way. We regard it as an agreeable exercise—but are not apt to class it among duties, like honesty or kindness.
It would be a sad thing, however, if laughter should be altogether crowded out of life. There are other exercises, which we could much better afford to lose. Think of a world of human beings with no laughter—men and women always wearing grave, serious, solemn faces; with no relaxing of the sternness on any occasion. Think of the laughter of childhood departing from the world, and the laughter of youth—how dull and dreary life would be!
Laughter has its place in every wholesome, healthy, holy life. A man who never smiles—is morbid. He has lost the joy chords out of his life. He has trained himself to think only of unpleasant things, to look only and always at the dark side. He has accustomed himself so long to sadness—that the muscles of his face have become set in hard, fixed lines and cannot relax themselves. His thoughts of life are gloomy, and the gloom has entered his soul and darkened his eyes!
All this is wrong. It is abnormal, unnatural. True, most of us are busy and burdened. Our life is full of serious tasks which fill every moment and give us little time for unbending. Yet hard work should never drive laughter out of the soul. We should keep a happy heart amid the severest toil. We should sing at our work. We will work better and far more effectively if we keep the music always ringing within our breast. “A sad heart tires in a mile” runs the old song. “The joy of the Lord is your strength,” said Nehemiah to the people, as he urged them to rejoicing. Joy of spirit makes burdens seem lighter and tasks easier. It is probably necessary to require silence in certain establishments where people work together—but it is not the natural way. It would ad much to the value of labor if the strokes of toil could be the time beats of joyous music.
Laughter is a token of a good heart and a good conscience. Shakespeare said some quite uncomplimentary things about the man who has no music in his soul. Where there is no laughter—all evils nest. Demons do not laugh—unless it is the laugh of wicked exultation over the mischief they have wrought, or the laughing sneer at goodness and virtue. Nothing on earth is more beautiful than the merry laugh of childhood. It is the bubbling up of the fountain of innocence and simplicity in the child’s heart. It tells of a spirit yet unspoiled by sin, unhurt by the world’s evil. Spontaneous, holy laughter tells always of godliness. The man who never laughs, must not blame his fellows if they think there is something wrong with his life, something dark within. If the streams which flow out are only bitter—the fountain cannot be sweet!
Even trouble should not quench laughter. Sorrow often rolls like a dark flood over human lives, and it may sometimes seem as if there could be no gladness in the heart thereafter. But however great the grief—joy should live through it. Christian joy does not have its source on the earth—but in heaven, in the everlasting hills. People who live in the valleys amid great mountains, have water even in the driest, hottest summer, because they receive their supply from springs which flow out of the mountains and are unaffected by heat or drought. The Christian’s springs of joy are perennial, because they flow from under the throne of God. No matter what goes wrong—we should still sing and be glad.
Along the shore one sometimes comes upon fresh water springs which bubble up on the edge of the salt sea. The tides roll over them and bury them out of sight for the time—but when the brackish floods ebb again—the springs are found sweet as ever. Just so, after the deepest sorrow—should the heart’s fountains of joy be found, still pouring out their streams of gladness. Christ says much about his people having his joy—a joy which the world can neither give nor take away. He says, too, that their sorrow shall be turned into joy, meaning that the deepest joy in this world is transformed sorrow, and not the joy which has never known pain.
If, therefore, we are Christians—grief should not crush laughter out of our life. Some people seem to think that it would be disloyalty to their friends who are gone—for them ever to be happy again. But this is not true. Of course, there is a sense in which we never get over sorrow. Our life is never the same after sore bereavement. We carry the marks forever. But they should not be marks of sorrow. There is a beatitude of the Master’s which pronounces those who mourn—blessed or happy, because they have God’s comfort. God’s comfort is heaven’s joy entering into the human soul. It is a blessing which transmutes pain into joy and loss—into gain. Sorrow healed by God’s wise, skillful treatment, leaves no ugly scars, no bleeding wounds. Nothing beautiful is lost—in the grief which Christ comforts. The sweetest songs sung on earth—are those learned in the darkened room of trial.
The true problem of living is to pass unhurt in our real character through the greatest trials, and to have our life softened, enriched, and refined—by every trouble we endure. Therefore, we have not met grief aright—if we come out of it with a loss of joyousness. Our songs should be sweeter and our laughter should be gladder, if less hilarious, for a baptism of pain.
There is a mission for humor. The man who can make others laugh may be a great blessing to his fellows. There are times in one’s experience when a bit of fun is better, more a means of grace, than a serious sermon would be. There are times when the best help we can give to a friend—is to make him laugh. The Wise Man says:
“A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:13
“A cheerful heart has a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:15
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
A hearty laugh would cure many a sickly feeling, driving away the blues, and changing the whole aspect of life for a man. The gift of bright, cheerful humor is one to be envied. The man who can keep people laughing at the table—is both a promoter of health and a dispenser of happiness.
We may set laughter down, therefore, among Christian duties. Nor is it one of the minor duties. There may be no commandment in the Decalogue, saying: “You shall laugh,” but Christ certainly taught that joy is a duty, one of the virtues which every Christian should cultivate. No one now believes the old tradition that Jesus never smiled—but always wept. He must have been a happy hearted man. Paul also makes it very clear in his teachings that we should rejoice always, and that joy is a fruit of the Spirit, an essential quality of the complete Christian life.
It is not hard for young people to laugh; it comes naturally to them. They should cultivate laughter as a Christian grace, never losing the art, nor allowing it to fall into disuse. They should seek always to be cheerful. Living near the heart of Christ, faithfully following his commandment, and obeying conscience, their lives may be always full of gladness and song. Of course they will find thorns in their path and the sun will not always shine. But there will be ten times more gladness than sorrow in their life, and even the clouds will bring rain with its blessing, and pain will make the song sweeter, if softer.
As “fair flowers bloom upon rough stalks,” so many of the fairest flowers of human life, grow upon the rough stalks of suffering.
(J. R. Miller, “The Beatitude for the Unsuccessful” 1892)
“The Lord is near the broken-hearted.” Psalm 34:18
The God of the Bible, is the God of the broken-hearted. The world cares little for the broken hearts. Indeed, people oftentimes break hearts by their cruelty, their falseness, their injustice, their coldness–and then move on as heedlessly as if they had trodden only on a worm! But God cares. Broken-heartedness attracts Him. The plaint of grief on earth–draws Him down from heaven.
Physicians in their rounds, do not stop at the homes of the well–but of the sick. So it is with God in His movements through this world. It is not to the whole and the well–but to the wounded and stricken, that He comes with sweetest tenderness! Jesus said of His mission: “He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted.” Isaiah 61:1
We look upon trouble as misfortune. We say that the life is being destroyed, which is passing through adversity. But the truth which we find in the Bible, does not so represent suffering. God is a repairer and restorer of the hurt and ruined life. He takes the bruised reed–and by His gentle skill makes it whole again, until it grows into fairest beauty. The love, pity, and grace of God, minister sweet blessing of comfort and healing–to restore the broken and wounded hearts of His people.
Much of the most beautiful life in this world, comes out of sorrow. As “fair flowers bloom upon rough stalks,” so many of the fairest flowers of human life, grow upon the rough stalks of suffering. We see that those who in heaven wear the whitest robes, and sing the loudest songs of victory–are those who have come out of great tribulation. Heaven’s highest places are filling, not from earth’s homes of glad festivity and tearless joy–but from its chambers of pain; its valleys of struggle where the battle is hard; and its scenes of sorrow, where pale cheeks are wet with tears, and where hearts are broken. The God of the Bible–is the God of the bowed down–whom He lifts up into His strength.
God is the God of those who fail. Not that He loves those who stumble and fall, better than those who walk erect without stumbling; but He helps them more. The weak believers get more of His grace–than those who are strong believers. There is a special divine promise, which says, “My divine power is made perfect in weakness.” When we are conscious of our own insufficiency, then we are ready to receive of the divine sufficiency. Thus our very weakness is an element of strength. Our weakness is an empty cup–which God fills with His own strength.
You may think that your weakness unfits you for noble, strong, beautiful living–or for sweet, gentle, helpful serving. You wish you could get clear of it. It seems to burden you–an ugly spiritual deformity. But really it is something which–if you give it to Christ–He can transform into a blessing, a source of His power. The friend by your side, whom you envy because he seems so much stronger than you are–does not get so much of Christ’s strength as you do. You are weaker than him–but your weakness draws to you divine power, and makes you strong.
“He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
I have been thinking about Love a lot lately.
With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, it seems thoughts of love are on the minds of many people. I have seen magazine articles and blog posts about romantic love, read facebook updates from single friends about love lost or love’s disappointments. Warm, thoughtful posts by newlyweds and flirty posts by folks who are looking in all the wrong places cover the walls of some of my facebook friends. This is the month that most Americans celebrate romantic love, whatever that might mean to them. Every human being needs love and companionship and I understand the need to express that but there is a love much greater and far deeper than anything that could be expressed with a candy heart or a box of chocolate.
Over the years I have had to make a few adjustments in how I view true love. It’s wonderful to see a married couple who love each other and stand by that union, the love we express for our family members, children, pets and friends is wonderful and is a blessed gift that we often take for granted. As a Christian it’s taken me a long walk down the road of maturity in Christ to learn exactly what Christian love is, or should be all about. For many years growing up I was well aware that my home life was not the source of much love on my behalf. This lack of love led me down all sorts of wrong paths, wrought with false hopes and many tears. I learned that Mom’s don’t always love their Daughters. Brother’s and Sisters are often not close. Men leave, friends can be fickle and that ultimately no one really owes you anything, let alone kindness or love. I learned that love comes in many forms, but the only love that is lasting is God’s love. For many years of my young adult hood I helped take care of my Father who had a Major stroke and suffered eventually from Dementia. It was a long tough road and romantic love, though it showed up in my life a few times, never quite had the strength to weather my choice in loving my Dad through his illness.
I learned that loving people is much harder than receiving it. Not until I was saved did I totally understand God’s sacrifice of His one and only begotten Son, and I am still coming to terms with how monumental that sacrifice was, and how as a Christian I am called to love people with that same Agape love that God showed a sinner like me. Love that has no strings, no rewards or even personal satisfaction. This is not a love that tolerates sin or heresy, but a love that in Christ calls me to love even my enemies. That’s a pretty tall order, and one that I am just beginning to understand. I may never have warm fuzzy feelings about someone who hurts or is mean to me, but I have to give them the same patience and mercy that God has given me and that’s tough.
While I studied scripture and pondered these things I found two really great sermons from my Church and I have included the links below for you to listen if you choose. I also included an amazing story of courage and sacrifice about a Christian Brother named Dirk Willems. I cannot imagine the sacrifice he was called to make, but his life was a stunning example of true love. The drawing at the top of the page is about him and his story.
Late in the winter of 1569, Dirk Willems of Holland was discovered as an Anabaptist, and a thief catcher came to arrest him at the village of Asperen.
Running for his life, Dirk came to a body of water still coated with ice. After making his way across in great peril, he realised his pursuer had fallen through into the freezing water.1
Turning back, Dirk ran to the struggling man and dragged him safely to shore. The thief catcher wanted to release Dirk, but a burgomaster – having appeared on the scene – reminded the man he was under oath to deliver criminals to justice. Dirk was bound off to prison, interrogated, and tortured in an unsuccessful effort to make him renounce his faith. He was tried and found guilty of having been rebaptised, of holding secret meetings in his home, and of allowing baptism there – all of which he freely confessed.
“Persisting obstinately in his opinion”, Dirk was sentenced to execution by fire. On the day of execution, a strong east wind blew the flames away from his upper body so that death was long delayed. The same wind carried his voice to the next town, where people heard him cry more than seventy times, “O my Lord; my God”. The judge present was “finally filled with sorrow and regret”. Wheeling his horse around so he saw no more, he ordered the executioner, “Dispatch the man with a quick death.”
“If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn’t love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would be of no value whatsoever. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever. There are three things that will endure—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13
by A W Tozer
Most of the world’s great souls have been lonely.
Loneliness seems to be one price the saint must pay for his saintliness.
In the morning of the world (or should we say, in that strange darkness that came soon after the dawn of man’s creation), that pious soul, Enoch, walked with God and was not, for God took him; and while it is not stated in so many words, a fair inference is that Enoch walked a path quite apart from his contemporaries.
Another lonely man was Noah who, of all the antediluvians, found grace in the sight of God; and every shred of evidence points to the aloneness of his life even while surrounded by his people.
Again, Abraham had Sarah and Lot, as well as many servants and herdsmen, but who can read his story and the apostolic comment upon it without sensing instantly that he was a man “whose soul was alike a star and dwelt apart”? As far as we know not one word did God ever speak to him in the company of men. Face down he communed with his God, and the innate dignity of the man forbade that he assume this posture in the presence of others. How sweet and solemn was the scene that night of the sacrifice when he saw the lamps of fire moving between the pieces of offering. There, alone with a horror of great darkness upon him, he heard the voice of God and knew that he was a man marked for divine favor.
Moses also was a man apart. While yet attached to the court of Pharaoh he took long walks alone, and during one of these walks while far removed from the crowds he saw an Egyptian and a Hebrew fighting and came to the rescue of his countryman. After the resultant break with Egypt he dwelt in almost complete seclusion in the desert. There, while he watched his sheep alone, the wonder of the burning bush appeared to him, and later on the peak of Sinai he crouched alone to gaze in fascinated awe at the Presence, partly hidden, partly disclosed, within the cloud and fire.
The prophets of pre-Christian times differed widely from each other, but one mark they bore in common was their enforced loneliness. They loved their people and gloried in the religion of the fathers, but their loyalty to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their zeal for the welfare of the nation of Israel drove them away from the crowd and into long periods of heaviness. “I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children,” cried one and unwittingly spoke for all the rest.
Most revealing of all is the sight of that One of whom Moses and all the prophets did write, treading His lonely way to the cross. His deep loneliness was unrelieved by the presence of the multitudes.
He died alone in the darkness hidden from the sight of mortal man and no one saw Him when He arose triumphant and walked out of the tomb, though many saw Him afterward and bore witness to what they saw. There are some things too sacred for any eye but God’s to look upon. The curiosity, the clamor, the well-meant but blundering effort to help can only hinder the waiting soul and make unlikely if not impossible the communication of the secret message of God to the worshiping heart.
Sometimes we react by a kind of religious reflex and repeat dutifully the proper words and phrases even though they fail to express our real feelings and lack the authenticity of personal experience. Right now is such a time. A certain conventional loyalty may lead some who hear this unfamiliar truth expressed for the first time to say brightly, “Oh, I am never lonely. Christ said, `I will never leave you nor forsake you,’ and `Lo, I am with you alway.’ How can I be lonely when Jesus is with me?”
Now I do not want to reflect on the sincerity of any Christian soul, but this stock testimony is too neat to be real. It is obviously what the speaker thinks should be true rather than what he has proved to be true by the test of experience. This cheerful denial of loneliness proves only that the speaker has never walked with God without the support and encouragement afforded him by society. The sense of companionship which he mistakenly attributes to the presence of Christ may and probably does arise from the presence of friendly people. Always remember: you cannot carry a cross in company. Though a man were surrounded by a vast crowd, his cross is his alone and his carrying of it marks him as a man apart. Society has turned against him; otherwise he would have no cross. No one is a friend to the man with a cross. “They all forsook Him, and fled.”
The pain of loneliness arises from the constitution of our nature. God made us for each other. The desire for human companionship is completely natural and right. The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians as well as from that of the unregenerate world. His God-given instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in the love of Christ; and because within his circle of friends there are so few who share inner experiences, he is forced to walk alone. The unsatisfied longings of the prophets for human understanding caused them to cry out in their complaint, and even our Lord Himself suffered in the same way.
The man who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual inner experience will not find many who understand him. A certain amount of social fellowship will of course be his as he mingles with religious persons in the regular activities of the church, but true spiritual fellowship will be hard to find. But he should not expect things to be otherwise. After all he is a stranger and a pilgrim, and the journey he takes is not on his feet but in his heart. He walks with God in the garden of his own soul – and who but God can walk there with him? He is of another spirit from the multitudes that tread the courts of the Lord’s house. He has seen that of which they have only heard, and he walks among them somewhat as Zacharias walked after his return from the altar when the people whispered, “He has seen a vision.”
The truly spiritual man is indeed something of an oddity. He lives not for himself but to promote the interests of Another. He seeks to persuade people to give all to his Lord and asks no portion or share for himself. He delights not to be honored but to see his Savior glorified in the eyes of men. His joy is to see his Lord promoted and himself neglected. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and overserious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens. He searches for friends upon whose garments he can detect the smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, and finding few or none, he, like Mary of old, keeps these things in his heart.
It is this very loneliness that throws him back upon God. “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else. He learns in inner solitude what he could not have learned in the crowd – that Christ is All in All, that He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that in Him we have and possess life’s summum bonum.
Two things remain to be said. One, that the lonely man of whom we speak is not a haughty man, nor is he the holier-than-thou, austere saint so bitterly satirized in popular literature. He is likely to feel that he is the least of all men and is sure to blame himself for his very loneliness. He wants to share his feelings with others and to open his heart to some like-minded soul who will understand him, but the spiritual climate around him does not encourage it, so he remains silent and tells his griefs to God alone.
The second thing is that the lonely saint is not the withdrawn man who hardens himself against human suffering and spends his days contemplating the heavens. Just the opposite is true. His loneliness makes him sympathetic to the approach of the brokenhearted and the fallen and the sin-bruised. Because he is detached from the world, he is all the more able to help it. Meister Eckhart taught his followers that if they should find themselves in prayer and happen to remember that a poor widow needed food, they should break off the prayer instantly and go care for the widow. “God will not suffer you to lose anything by it,” he told them. “You can take up again in prayer where you left off and the Lord will make it up to you.” This is typical of the great mystics and masters of the interior life from Paul to the present day.
The weakness of so many modern Christians is that they feel too much at home in the world. In their effort to achieve restful “adjustment” to unregenerate society they have lost their pilgrim character and become an essential part of the very moral order against which they are sent to protest. The world recognizes them and accepts them for what they are. And this is the saddest thing that can be said about them. They are not lonely, but neither are they saints.
I have had a hard time lately just living.
It’s been a bit of a struggle, in all areas of my life for some reason, illness, financial issues, and assorted hurts and buffets abound but God in his amazing, unmerited mercy has supported me with great preaching and teaching and He’s blessed me so abundantly by just being there for me, there is so much evidence of His strength in my weakness. He is my rock and my fortress and the harder and tougher life is it seems the stronger the hold of His mighty hand! I love him so much and as I sat in my office trying to find some comfort in his word, I stumbled upon these two sermons. These are so good that I sat, in my office and sobbed into my paperwork. He is our Risen Savior and even in the most seemingly unimportant personal stuff, He cares for us. I hope these are encouraging to you. They sure were to me.
In Love and Faith in Jesus Christ, Mrs. B.
The Power and Pity of Jesus part 1