Afflictions Are Limited

alone-boy-child-256658 (1)A Scripture Meditation by W. F. Bell (1948-2018)

“Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more.” Nahum 1:12

The entire human family, including God’s elect, will at times suffer various afflictions; however, our great and wise God, “according to the multitude of his mercies,” assures us that they are limited (see Lamentations 3:31-33). The rod does not last forever. Just as the prophet Nahum (“comfort”) gave a message of comfort to the nation of Judah in the seventh century B. C., revealing that Jehovah would eventually remove the Assyrian rod from their land, so too we are assured that the trials and sorrows of God’s people will one day come to an end: “Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more.” Thus we have this comforting promise to us in the New Testament:”Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9). Note, “receiving!” 

It was C. H. Spurgeon who once said, “Our Father in heaven takes away the rod when his design in using it is fully served.” Yes, whatever that “design” is, our merciful God will some day take it away. So, let us “be of good cheer,” looking to our Lord Jesus Christ alone, who knew all about afflictions of soul and body when hanging on the tree of Calvary as our Substitute. Dying for his people, “the just for the unjust,” he was identifying himself with us in all of our afflictions, according to 1 Peter 2:23-24; 3:18. What wondrous love, mercy, and condescension this was from our precious Savior!

Whatever trials we are facing today, let us learn anew that “in the faith” we must look beyond our present circumstances to a brighter day. Satan, our enemy and adversary, will not win in the end, so we are admonished: “Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:9-11).

“These inward trials I employ,
From self and pride to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st seek thy all in me.”
John Newton (Gadsby’s #295)

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Depression

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I’m living inside a book return
The door opens and in they come
But I can’t read them fast enough
Light appears and the door slams shut

A thousand books weigh on my brain
A million words calling me insane
Not one can help my soul explain
The depths of my numbness to pain

I suffer beneath a familiar face
Gagged by volumes about my case
Each page numbered with more disgrace
Bound in a box of no escape

No one will ever find me here
No words of hope can bring me cheer
I’m lost in a prank of polished steel
Trapped in the depths of vaulted fear

Behind the lines

“The mind can descend far lower than the body, for in it there are bottomless pits. The flesh can bear only a certain number of wounds and no more, but the soul can bleed in ten thousand ways, and die over and over again each hour.”
~C.H. Spurgeon

This poem was inspired by reading Zack Eswine’s book Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression.

 

Deliverance

I recently discovered the poetry of Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672), and thought I would share one of her poems that reminded me of a lament and psalm of David. From her Wikipedia page, Anne was a Puritan from Massachusetts and one of the most prominent early English poets of North America. She was also the first female writer in the British North American colonies to be published.

I like how she poignantly captures the struggle with her health and resolve to praise God in the midst of difficulty. Everyone will face sorrow, sickness, fits, and distress in this life. All of creation is groaning, but there is hope and deliverance in Christ, and the life to come. This reminds me of a Charles H. Spurgeon quote:

“Is there nothing to sing about today? Then borrow a song from tomorrow; sing of what is yet to be. Is this world dreary? Then think of the next.”

May you be comforted and encouraged to pour out your own lament before God, and may God, in His grace, turn it into praise.

Deliverance from Another Sore Fit

In my distress I sought the Lord,
When naught on earth could comfort give,
And when my soul these things abhorred,
Then, Lord, Thou said’st unto me, “Live.”

Thou knowest the sorrows that I felt;
My plaints and groans were heard of Thee,
And how in sweat I seemed to melt,
Thou help’st and Thou regardest me.

My wasted flesh Thou didst restore,
My feeble loins didst gird with strength,
Yea, when I was most low and poor,
I said I shall praise Thee at length.

What shall I render to my God,
For all His bounty showed to me?
Even for His mercies in His rod,
Where pity most of all I see.

My heart I wholly give to Thee;
O make it fruitful, faithful Lord.
My life shall dedicated be,
To praise in thought, in deed, in word.

Thou know’st no life I did require,
Longer than still Thy name to praise,
Nor ought on earth worthy desire,
In drawing out these wretched days.

Thy name and praise to celebrate,
O Lord, for aye is my request.
O grant I do it in this state,
And then with Thee, which is the best.

 

A Wedding Hymn

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I discovered this excellent wedding hymn by John Berridge (1716-93) after reading some of his other hymn lines quoted by C.H. Spurgeon in the devotional Morning & Evening.

If you’re searching for a hymn or poem to be read during your wedding, you can stop your search.

Since Jesus freely did appear,
To grace a marriage-feast,
O Lord, we ask Thy presence here;
Be Thou our glorious guest.

Upon the bridal pair look down,
Who now have plighted hands;
Their union with Thy favor crown,
And bless their nuptial bands.

With gifts of grace their hearts endow,
Of all rich dowries best:
Their substance bless, and peace bestow,
To sweeten all the rest.

In purest love their souls unite,
That they, with Christian care,
May make domestic burdens light,
By taking mutual share.

True helpers may they prove indeed,
In pray’r, and faith, and hope;
And see with joy a Godly seed
To build their household up.

An Isaac and Rebecca, give
A pattern chaste and kind;
So may this married couple live
And die in friendship joined.

On every soul assembled here,
O make Thy face to shine:
Thy goodness more our hearts can cheer,
Than richest food or wine.

Behind the lines

Spurgeon didn’t reference John Berridge’s name in Morning & Evening (the evening of July 12th), so I had to track it down. During my search, I found the hymn posted here. Spurgeon did cite Berridge in other sermons.

John Berridge’s Wikipedia page gives the following details of his life:

  • He preached up to twelve open-air sermons and traveled over 100 miles each week (by horseback).
  • C.H. Spurgeon included John Berridge on his list of Eccentric Preachers.
  • His first collection of hymns was published as A Collection of Divine Songs in the 1760s. In 1785, a collection of 342 hymns were published.

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