The Poor Man's Course and Comfort
James Smith, 1865
It is no uncommon thing for a poor man to be in trouble — for man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward. The single man has some troubles, the married often more. Lack of work — lack of health — lack of skill — lack of proper remuneration for his work — all these are at times sources of trouble. Hard times — hard masters — hard work — hard speeches — these also add to his troubles. There is trouble at the factory, trouble at the mill, trouble in the shop, and trouble in the field. Some troubles come from God — but more are the consequence of our own folly. However, trouble is trouble, come from whatever cause or quarter it may; and the great thing is to know what to do with it, and how to get rid of it.
Well, we are going to look at a poor man in trouble, to point out what he did with his trouble, and how he got rid of it. He lived many years ago, his witness is in Heaven, and his record is in God's book. Hear it! "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles" (Psalm 34:6). No doubt but he had temporal troubles, perhaps just such as yours:
A large family — and a small income.
Hard work — and a weak body.
Little employment — and many demands.
Providence seemed to frown upon him — and many things to go wrong with him.
Then he had spiritual troubles. A hard heart, a bad memory, a bitter enemy, many fears, distressing doubts, perplexing cogitations, and violent temptations — separate or combined, at times troubled him.
God hid his face.
Unbelief gained strength.
Satan suggested hard thoughts.
His own heart bothered him.
He looked back with regret — and forward with foreboding.
He looked within with alarm — and upward without confidence.
A cloud covered him, he imagined all things were against him, and he drooped and hung down his head. He felt that he was a poor man. He had no stock in hand. He had nothing of his own with which he could be pleased, or in which he could trust. Tried in body and in mind — tried in his family and in his circumstances. Yet he did not lie down in despair, he did not give way to despondency.
What did he do?
"He cried unto the Lord!" This was the very best, the wisest thing that he could do. Had he cried to creatures — they might have been destitute of sympathy, or unable or unwilling to help. He cried unto the Lord, his father's God, and his own God. He cried unto the Lord, who is full of pity, plenteous in mercy, and pledged to answer prayer. He cried unto the Lord, who is accessible at all times, and in all places. He cried unto the Lord, who had heard millions of poor souls in trouble, and had never refused to deliver one. He cried unto the Lord, who sent or permitted the trouble, to furnish him with a message, give him an occasion, and compel him to apply at his throne.
He cried unto the Lord — he cried from his heart, he cried with his voice. His prayer was simple, earnest, importunate, and therefore successful. He carried his trouble to the Lord — he told his Heavenly Father all about it, and he left it at his throne. He went with all his fears, cares, and sorrows. He opened his heart, he unburdened his soul, he relieved his mind. He cried as one in distress. He cried to one who could help. He cried as one who hoped to be heard and answered. He went again, and again, and again — until he obtained relief. He cried in trouble, he cried because of trouble, he cried to be delivered from trouble, nor did he cry in vain.
Dear reader, are you poor? Are you in trouble? Is your trouble great? Is it spiritual or temporal — or both? Carry it to the Lord! Do as this poor man did. He is set before you as an example. This verse was written on purpose to encourage, comfort, and direct you. Say not that you know not what to do. Cry unto the Lord. Say not that you know not what will be the end. Cry unto the Lord — and he will deliver you from all your troubles.
You have a friend at God's right hand. Jesus is there. He knows what trouble is. He knows what are the effects of trouble on the soul, the spirits, and the animal frame. He has been tried like you are. He was made our High Priest, because he can have compassion on the ignorant, and those who are out of the way. God will hear you — for his sake. He will answer you — when you plead his dear name.
Imitate this poor man, and in doing so, remember that the Lord, "Saved him out of all his troubles." They were numerous. They were painful. Perhaps some of them had been long-continued. They required . . .
an omnipotent helper,
an all-wise deliverer,
a present God!
And prayer brought the power, wisdom, and presence of God — o bear upon the poor man's circumstances, and he was saved out of all his troubles!
God loves to save us from our troubles — as well as our sins. He saved Israel from Egypt, David from all his foes, and Jeremiah from the dungeon; he is saving many from trouble now, and he will save us. Many are this day singing their songs of deliverance, to the praise of his glorious grace; and he is saying to us, "Call upon me in the day of trouble — I will deliver you; and you shall glorify me."
Let us not, then, nurse our troubles, encourage our fears, or give way to our foes; but let us go to our God by prayer, let us go in faith, and let us expect that as this poor man cried and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles, so he will hear, appear for, and deliver us. We have the same promises as he had; our claim upon God is as good as his was; and we have more to plead than he could have — for we have the dear name, precious blood, finished work, and constant intercession of Jesus, the High Priest of our profession!
Poor, tried, tempted, troubled, tempest-tossed soul — look up! Yield no longer to your fears, listen no longer to Satan, that enemy to God and man; think not of sinking under your load — but "roll your burden on the Lord — and he shall sustain you!" "Cast all your care upon him — for he cares for you!" Cry day and night unto God, this will prove your election and secure your deliverance. Hear what your Savior says, "And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly" (Luke 18:7, 8).
That trouble will never hurt you — which leads you to the Lord; the pain it causes is beneficial, and the energy it awakens does you good. Carry all your troubles to your God, plead with him to sanctify them to you, and then remove them from you; but seek their sanctification first, and let their removal be a secondary consideration.
Be jealous lest you should lose the benefit of an affliction, for no trouble is sent — but with a special object in view, and if the present trouble does not accomplish that object, another and perhaps a heavier trouble may be sent.
Reader, do you know the God of Israel, who delivered this poor man? Has he ever delivered you? We know of no more pitiable object, than a sinner in trouble with no God to go to, no promise to cheer him, no blessed Spirit to soothe and comfort him. We do not wonder that some fly to strong drink, and others to self-destruction. My dear friend, seek the poor man's God, look to the poor man's Savior, read the poor man's book, pray for the poor man's comforter (the Holy Spirit) — and so will you arrive safely at the poor man's home — where toil, trouble, disappointment, perplexity, sin, or sorrow, can never come!