Warned, Admonished and Encouraged
James Smith, 1861
"In the world, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." John 16:33
How apt we are to look for peace and prosperity here below! As constantly as we are disappointed--we nevertheless think that when we have overcome this difficulty, conquered this foe, or turned this corner in our journey--that things will change and we shall have rest. But this world is no place of rest for a Christian. It is an enemy's land, and is ruled by one who is a sworn foe to him and to his Lord, and therefore he must not expect to be left long undisturbed. Of this his Lord has forewarned him, for he said, "In the world, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
The Warning."You shall have many trials and sorrows." We must not expect rest in the world. It is under the curse. It crucified our Lord. It is enmity against God. It will not submit to his law, nor believe his gospel, therefore, we cannot expect it to be on good terms with us.
Yet our troubles are limited to time, and are confined to this world. We shall not carry them with us where we are going, nor will any new ones meet us there. While here on earth, we shall have many trials and sorrows--but there we shall enjoy perfect, perpetual rest.
God sends trials and sorrows in love--to correct us,
wean us from earth, and fit us for glory. Man produces it out of
hatred to us, to injure and distress us. Let us not look so much at what man
does, as at God's appointing, working, and overruling. Our enemies may be in
power and rule, as Pharaoh and the Egyptians over Israel; as the Jews and
Romans over the apostles and primitive believers. We may have cruel mockings,
bitter persecutions, the loss of liberty, the lack of ordinances, bodily
pains, and sore oppression. Any, or the whole of these may come upon us, and
are included in the many trials and sorrows. Let us not then be
surprised at trials, troubles, griefs, and vexation--for they are all
included in our lot.
The Admonition."Take heart!" Do not be depressed or down-hearted. Do not give way to sorrow or sadness. But, take heart! Your sins are pardoned, your afflictions therefore are not punishments; they are only a fire to consume your dross, or a rod to correct your follies. Your person is accepted in Jesus, God therefore approves of you, though he permits these troubles to come upon you. Your redemption draws near, when you will be completely and eternally delivered, from every pain, and every cause of pain, and will enter into the joy of your Lord. As pardoned, as accepted of God, as near upon the year of Jubilee, you may well take heart.
Be confident. You may be confident of the truth of the
Savior's words, for every promise he has made is as firm as the pillars of
God's throne. Heaven and earth may pass away--but his word shall not
pass away. You may be confident of his presence and strength, for he will
never leave you, or neglect or forget to impart strength unto you. In the
Lord you have righteousness and strength. You may be confident of success in
his cause, for his word shall not return unto him void, nor can your labor
be in vain in the Lord. You may be confident that he will be faithful unto
you, for he will not fail you--but will make good in your experience, all
the sweet promises of his word. You may be confident that all will end
well; your life is insured, your inheritance is certain, and even now,
as difficult as things may be--all things are working together for your
good. To you therefore Jesus says, "Let not your hearts be troubled, you
have confidence in God, have confidence in me."
The Encouragement."I have overcome the world." Jesus overcame the prince of this world, first in single combat in the wilderness, where he battled with him forty days; and afterwards on his cross, when he was accompanied by all the hosts of Hell. The god of this world is your Savior's slave, nor can he act without his permission.
Jesus overcame the trials of the world. He faced them all. He passed through them all. He was affected and afflicted by them all. He was tried in all points like as we are. He suffered being tried. He knows what pain of body, trouble of mind, anguish of spirit, and intense agony of soul are. As the man of sorrows, he became experimentally acquainted with all we are passing through, or can pass through--therefore he is able to support us in our trials.
He overcame the enmity of the world. He braved it. He endured it. He died from it--but he overcame it.
It is for us therefore to look upon the world as a conquered foe. Jesus overcame the world, by faith in God, so must we. Jesus overcame the world, by exercising kindness to men, even his bitterest foes, so must we. Jesus overcame the world, by direct, determined, and constant opposition to sin, so must we. Jesus overcame the world, by acquiescence in the will of God, and resignation to his lot, and so must we. Let us therefore, exercise a steady confidence in God our Heavenly Father, and in Jesus our beloved Savior; let us manifest kindness, self-denying kindness, to all about us; let as resist, oppose, and strive against sin, all sin; and let us endeavor, with the apostle, to learn the important lesson, in whatever state we are therewith to be content.
In the world we must expect many trials and sorrows--but in Jesus we may have peace. In union with his person, and living in communion and fellowship with him, we may enjoy repose of soul, whatever may bo our outward circumstances. Faith in Jesus, resting on the word of Jesus, and looking for the coming of Jesus--will keep us calm, quiet, and subdued; and though all around us are in confusion and excitement--we shall enjoy heavenly peace.
He who overcame the world for us, will overcome the world within us, and will overcome the world by us. The conquests and triumphs of Jesus, lays the foundation of ours. As one with him, as sustained and supplied by him, as comforted by him--we may meet all the trials of the wilderness, all the troubles of the way, hopefully looking forward to the rest, and the inheritance promised us. In our greatest trials we may enjoy composure--for Jesus has provided an antidote; we may be confident, for Jesus is with us, and for us; and we may be courageous, because greater is he who is for us, than all those who are against us.
Let not the worldling boast over the tried believer, for in the midst of his sufferings, he has inward consolations, secret comforts, invisible supports. Not only so, his troubles will not last long, for "The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment." The world passes away--but he who does the will of God abides forever. Weeping may endure for a night--but joy comes in the morning. If we go down to the grave weeping--we shall return with singing unto Zion; we shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away!
Our Savior says to us, to comfort us, "Blessed are you that weep now; for you shall laugh. Woe unto you that laugh now! for you shall mourn and weep." Holy Spirit, lead us to make use of the warning which Jesus gives, to attend to the loving admonition he delivers, and to take the encouragement which he places before us! May we often dwell with profit on his words, "In the world, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."