Common Mercies

by James Smith, 1860
 

"Let us praise God for common mercies, for they prove to be uncommonly precious when they are once taken away!" Charles Spurgeon

Waking up from a good night's rest I feel exceedingly grateful for so great a mercy. What a refreshing thing is sleep. How many nights of good sleep I have enjoyed, for which I never prayed, and for which I never praised God.

But now I cannot sleep as I once did. Hour after hour I lay sometimes, and get no rest. I feel with job, that "wearisome nights are appointed to me." Sleep is valued now as a great blessing, though it was once looked upon as a common thing. Now I pray for sleep, and when I get it, I praise God.

How little praise God gets from us for his common mercies unless he deprives us of them. Then we prize them, pray for them, really enjoy them, and give God thanks. What we win by prayer we should wear with praise.

Nor do we sympathize as we should with the poor, who have not the blessings we enjoy. During a sleepless night, our thoughts will wander to the hospital, the sick room, and the dying chamber, and so sympathy is excited for others, and thanksgivings ascend to God. Not only so, we think of that glory land where sleep is no longer needed, where pain is no longer felt, where darkness never reigns; for there is no night there. Lord, teach me to enjoy the mercy of sleep, when I have it, with gratitude; and to improve a sleepless night when I have it not! Sleep is your gift, and an invaluable gift it is. May I enjoy it as your child, and improve the testimony of your Word, where I read that you "give your beloved sleep."

Not long ago, I was affected with a degree of deafness, so that much that was said I did not hear; never did I value the sense of hearing as then. It must be painful to be in a silent world. To hear no sweet sounds. To be unable to hold social fellowship. To know that others are communicating thoughts, and we cannot hear them. To see others intensely interested by them, and greatly enjoying them and ourselves shut out from that interest and enjoyment.

How many years I have been able to hear well, and how few praises has a gracious God ever received from me, for so great a favor. But I do feel grateful now; it is therefore well to lose our mercies in part for a time, if the restoration of them will fill us with devout thanksgivings to God. How painful to a child, to be unable to drink in the sweet sounds of a mother's voice; or to a wife to be unable to converse with the husband she loves. But how very painful it must be to the Christian, to attend the house of prayer, and be unable to hear the sound of the preacher's voice. Yet there are many who are suffering these privations, while millions who enjoy the gift of hearing never think of rendering thanks to the Lord, according to the value of the favor conferred. Blessed be God, that I could ever hear, that I have heard his holy Word, and have, I trust, heard it to good purpose. Blessed be God that I can hear now, and may he preserve me that blessing while life shall last.

The other day I mislaid my eye-glasses. I wanted to read a note which had been sent to me but I could not decipher a word. A reply was required but a written reply, I could not send. Never did I feel the value of eye-glasses as I did then. Never did I feel my ingratitude for not praising God for the good sight which I had enjoyed for so many years as I did then. O what a privation the loss of sight must be! To be in a beautiful world like this and be unable to see any of its beauties. Unable to look up and see the clear blue sky, or the sky studded with stars. Unable to see the sun in his glory, or the moon walking in brightness. Unable to look at the green fields, or admire the productions of the lovely garden. To be shut out from all that is beautiful in the world of nature, and to be deprived of feeding the mind by reading.

What would I do without my books, or power to read them! What should I do without my pen, or power to use it! How sweet I have found it, to feed on the thoughts of others; and how grateful I have felt, when I have ascertained that I have awakened good thoughts in the minds of my fellow Christians, and my fellow creatures! How sweet, how inexpressibly sweet, is the blessing of being useful; especially of being useful to the souls of men. Blessed be God that he ever gave me sight! Blessed be God, that he has continued my sight so long! Blessed be God, for the gift of eye-glasses to aid my sight, now that it has become weak and imperfect!

I used to walk well, and a good distance too; but now if the atmosphere is heavy, or the weather foggy; if the distance is long, or the road hilly I find my breathing affected, and get weary soon. This indicates that old age is creeping on me apace. But what a mercy it is that I am not confined to my house, to my room, to my bed. What a blessing I feel it, that in looking back, I see that I have not lived in vain; and in looking forward to believe that I have a house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens.

Where I am going the inhabitants are never sick, and all the people there are forgiven of all their iniquities. There are no asthmas there, no failing of sight there, no weary limbs there. Perfect health, perpetual day, and unsullied holiness characterize the place. Thanks be to God that ever I could walk, and thanks be to God that I can walk now, though not so well as I could once. Thanks be to God that I am not always suffering but have many profitable hours, pleasant days, and refreshing nights.

Yes, yes, the lines have fallen unto me in pleasant places, and I have a goodly heritage. May I never complain, when there are so many thousands suffering more, and after having enjoyed so many mercies for so many years. Rather let me say with the Psalmist, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits." Gratitude befits me but complaining or repining would be altogether out of place. I have had my trials, and I have them still, but . . .
what are my trials compared to my mercies;
what my privations compared to my privileges;
what my present pains compared to my future prospects?

A short time ago, I was called to suffer severe pain of body and who ever forgets pain? We may forget months and years of ease but one week's severe pain is not soon forgotten. There can be no doubt but pain is beneficial. I am persuaded that it has done me good. But nature does not like medicine, especially when it is bitter, and given in large doses. How suffering seems to lengthen time; one hour's pain, appears longer than two hours pleasure. How it changes the appearance of temporal things, and seems to lessen their value. How it prompts us to look forward to the time, and upward to the place where there shall be no more pain or suffering.

Having had so many months and years of ease I ought not to shrink from a few weeks of pain. I ought at least to bear it with patience. But philosophy is of little use in suffering. I find that prayer is more soothing. If I am to suffer as a Christian, if I am to glorify God in the fires I must ask the Lord who sends the pain, to send special grace with it.

What a wonderful thing is grace! It makes . . .
the impatient, patient;
the ungrateful, grateful;
the complaining, contented;
and the polluted, holy.

Lord, give me more grace give me much grace, that so I may bear pain, improve pleasure, and serve my generation according to your will.

Blessed be God, for freedom from excruciating pain!
Blessed be God, for freedom from constant pain!
Blessed be God, for freedom from unsanctified pain!
Blessed be God, above all, for the assurance, that I shall never taste the bitter pains of eternal damnation!

O Savior, how much it cost you of pain, anguish, and sorrow of heart to procure my exemption from eternal torment; and the sanctification of all I suffer here below!

Reader, how are you affected upon these points?

Do you ever pass sleepless nights? I seldom did once, though trouble and sorrow, as well as irritation and pain have at times chased away sleep from my eyes. If you can sleep soundly and sweetly thank God. Thousands cannot. If sleep could be purchased, how much would some give for one night's sound sleep.

Is your hearing quick and correct? Thank God, and pity the poor deaf who are around you. Your ears may yet become dull of hearing.

Is your sight good? Prize it, and make good use of it while you have it.

Is your general health strong and robust? You have one of the greatest earthly blessings. Better be strong enough to walk, than be feeble, and have a carriage to ride in.

Are you in general free from pain? Remember it is more than you deserve, and many, perhaps more exemplary people than you are seldom know what it is to have an hour's freedom from suffering.

Be grateful, be grateful for all you enjoy, and for the freedom from the ten thousand evils to which you are exposed.

Above all, make sure of a saving interest in Christ, of a title to a place in that happy land, where sorrow and sighing are perfect strangers. Store your mind with the promises of God's most holy book, seek the enjoyment of much of the communion of the Holy Spirit, and you will have something to . . .
soothe your pains,
solace you in sorrow, and
to turn the shadow of death into the morning.

Gracious God, help us to dwell on our mercies, to prize our privileges, and to improve our sufferings. And may we so pass through the sufferings, sorrows, and pleasures of time as to secure a hearty welcome into your presence, when time with us shall be no more!

"Let us praise God for common mercies, for they prove to be uncommonly precious when they are once taken away!" Charles Spurgeon