Sympathy with Sufferers
by James Smith, 1860
We can never form a correct opinion as to who are the Lord's people, by the dispensations of Divine providence — as the same events happen to all. The difference between them and the world, lies rather in the comforts and supports they receive, than in any outward difference. Indeed, the saints often have the worst of it, as far as temporal things are concerned — for the present is to them a state of discipline and trial.
But of this, a good use may be made, for the sufferings of believers should awaken our sympathies, and call forth our aid and our prayers. As Asaph prayed of old, when the Lord s people were sorely tried, so should we, "let not the oppressed return ashamed; let the poor and needy praise your name." Psalm 74:21.
Look at the SUFFERERS:
They are OPPRESSED.Sometimes human laws are often oppressive, and have filled prisons with believers, and burnt the best of men at the stake! The landlord will oppress the tenant, the employer the mechanic, the tradesman his customers, the rich the poor, the parent the child, the husband the wife, and the mistress her servant. Petty oppression is very common, even in the present day.
But many believers are oppressed . . .
by a load of cares — which they should turn into prayers;
or by fears — which they ought not to encourage;
or by lowness of spirits from physical debility — which perhaps they cannot remove;
or from the temptations of the prince of darkness.
Any one, or more, of these causes — will often sink the spirits, burden the mind, and bring an oppressive weight on the soul.
They are POOR, perhaps in temporals, for many of God's people are; if not they are spiritually poor, for this is the case with all. They are stripped of all their supposed excellency, everything like goodness is removed from them, so that they have not a rag to hide their shame, nor a penny to procure their release. Christ must clothe them — or they are naked; and Christ must supply them — or they are destitute and undone.
Nor are they only stripped — but having lost all, they are so weak, that they cannot work for more. They have no strength left — Jesus therefore must be their strength, as well as their righteousness, or they perish. They feel themselves also unworthy of God's notice, and of the least of his mercies. Empty of good, weak and unable to procure any, they feel that they lie at the feet of God's mercy, and that if ever they are saved — he must do it for them, work all within them, and confer all upon them.
They are NEEDY.Indeed they appear sometimes to need everything, and to possess nothing that is really good. They are all needs, and forget where to look for their supplies.
They feel that they need the patience of God to bear with them — they are so perverse, obstinate, and depraved!
They need the mercy of God to pardon them — their sins are so numerous, aggravated and horrible.
They need the strength of God to sustain them —
they are so weak,
their burdens are so heavy,
the road is so difficult, and
their enemies are so numerous and strong.
They need the grace of God to save them — for if they are not saved by grace, entirely of grace, they know that they cannot be saved at all.
They need the love of God to satisfy them — for their capabilities are so vast, their cravings are so strong, and their desires are so painful, that nothing less can make them happy.
They feel that they need a whole Christ, and all that is in Christ — and blessed be his holy name, Christ is theirs, and God in Christ is theirs too.
Look at the SYMPATHY expressed in the prayer:"Let not the oppressed return ashamed." Satan tempts them to believe they shall be ashamed. If they go to the Word for comfort, to the throne for grace, or to the sanctuary for help, the temptation follows them — that there is neither comfort, nor grace, nor help for them. If they exercise a little hope in God, or confidence in Jesus, they are still pursued with the thought — that it is unwarranted, and they will be ashamed of it in the end. But if ever they open their mouth for God, or in seasons of enjoyment make their boast in the Lord — then especially are they harassed with this tormenting suggestion. But they shall not be ashamed who hope in God, confide in Jesus, and make their boast in the Lord.
"Let the poor and needy praise your name." Give them cause to do so by appearing for them, manifesting yourself unto them, and bestowing choice blessings upon them. Give them occasion or opportunity to do so, by shining upon them when in company with your people, or when in the house of prayer. Give them grace to do so, for it often requires courage, and confidence, and boldness to do so. Let the poor, being enriched by your grace — let the needy, being supplied by your providence and Spirit, praise your name.
Let us beware of judging rashly, or according to appearances — the poor, the oppressed, the despised may be the Lord's. Let us pray for those who suffer, so did Asaph, so did David, and so did Jesus. God lives to hear us intercede for others. Yes, so does he love intercession, that he has constituted his beloved Son, the great Intercessor, and the leader of all who intercede at his throne. Let the poor hope in God, let the needy look to Jesus, and let the oppressed look to the Most High.
Many prayers are gone up for them, and many are going up now. Deliverance is at hand. Supplies are provided. Support will be given. They are God's people, poor, needy, and oppressed as they are, and they shall never be ashamed. But with the ransomed of the Lord, they shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads, they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
O Savior, help me when I feel my poverty, realize my need, or groan under oppression — to look to you, and may I have faith to believe that you are interceding for me!
Dangers of every shape and name
Attend the followers of the Lamb!
Who leave the world's deceitful shore,
And leave it to return no more.
O Lord, the pilot's part perform,
And guide and guard me through the storm;
Defend me from each threatening ill —
Control the waves, say, "Peace! be still."
Amidst the roaring of the sea,
My soul still hangs her hopes on thee;
Your constant love, your faithful care,
Is all that saves me from despair!