THE TREE OF LIFE by Octavius Winslow

Patience in Suffering, or He Was Led as a Lamb to the Slaughter

"Patient in tribulation." Romans 12:12

Doubtless, the preceding chapter, illustrating the "service of love," has found its way into many a sick and lone chamber. And as the suffering patient languidly turned over its leaves, the sad thought doubtless has risen in the mind- "alas! I am but a dry tree, a useless cumberer of the ground, exiled from the world, hidden from the Church, and, lying upon this couch of weakness, an anxiety and care to many, a helper and succourer to none! How can I offer to Jesus the service of love?"
  Suppress that desponding thought, hush that self-reflection, suffering child of God. Do you forget that there is a passive service of love, equally as an active service of love, for Christ? That, there are graces of the Spirit which only find their true development and culture in the very school of God in which He has now placed you? And that, in that darkened room, and upon that suffering couch, and from that lonely exile, you may render to God a service of love, and yield to Him a sacrifice of praise not less precious, acceptable, and glorifying than that of the most active servant in the vineyard, or the most valiant soldier of Christ upon the battle-field.
  To endeavor to allay this mental depression, and to remove this unjust and painful self-reflection, the subject of these pages invites your devout attention - the PATIENCE of SUFFERING. "He was led as a Lamb to the slaughter." There is probably no grace of the Spirit in the believer more underrated or overlooked than that of patience. And yet there is not one which presents a stronger evidence or a more lovely illustration of the Christian character than it. Like some of those flowers God has pencilled with beauty, and perfumed with sweetness, which unfold their tints and breathe their fragrance veiled from human eye, this lovely and lowly grace of patience is almost entirely lost sight of by those who are borne onward upon the sweeping tide of this ever-heaving, active age of the Christian Church.
  And just as those flowers are only to be found in turning aside from the beaten path and the excited multitudes who throng it, into some quiet, shaded nook, so those patient sufferers of Christ's Church- those precious plants of His garden, so dear to His heart and so beauteous in His eye- are only to be met in scenes of suffering and sorrow, sequestered and shaded from all but God. Thus, in this age of Christian service, of rapid thought and of earnest action, there is danger of overlooking the hidden flowers of Christ's garden; in other words, of forgetting that there are passive as well as active graces of the Christian character which are as much the fruit of the Spirit, and requiring equally as skillful and diligent culture, and are as pleasant and glorifying to God, as an apostle's zeal or a martyr's heroism.
  Let us, then, turn our attention to this hidden grace of the Spirit in the believer the grace of patience in the season of suffering. "Patient in tribulation." And what, in the first place, is the school in which the holy lesson of patience is learned, the sphere in which this precious grace of the Spirit is developed and exercised? It is God's school and sphere of suffering! The very existence of patience, or, in other words, a meek and quiet endurance of God's will, implies the existence of suffering and trial.
  The passive graces of the Christian character have a sphere of development peculiarly their own. Like the stars of heaven, they only shine forth when night robes the world in darkness. We know but little of the character of others, still less of our own, until adversity draws it forth. It is thus with the Christian. It is seen but in profile by others, still more partially by himself, until brought under the discipline of trial. Adversity gives symmetry and completeness to Christian character. A Christian man who is a stranger to affliction, a "vessel of mercy," who, though pencilled with the renewed image of God, has not yet passed through the fiery furnace which gives vividness and fixedness to the likeness- a child of God who, though a son, has yet to receive this unerring seal of his sonship, the chastening of a loving Father- must have much to pass through before his Christianity receives its full and most beauteous development.
  And when we ponder these wondrous words respecting our Lord - "Though He were a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered," "He was led as a Lamb to the slaughter," can it be to us a matter of surprise, or even of regret, that, claiming a relationship to Him as our Elder Brother, we, like Him, should be "made perfect through suffering"? If He, our Brother, partook of our nature, and thus proved He was not ashamed to call us brethren, shall it be considered by us a strange and humiliating thing if we should be called to partake of His afflictions, to bear His cross, and thus have fellowship with His sufferings?
  Such, then, is God's school- the school of all whom He is training for heaven. There are various classes or departments in this school of suffering, just as there are varied lessons that we learn, and different degrees of grace to which we attain. All do not suffer, all are not chastened, all are not afflicted, alike. There is a secret in every cross we carry, a loneliness in every path we tread. The believer is of all beings the most inexplicable. A mystery to others, he is a greater mystery to himself. "I am," says David, " a wonder unto many," but a far greater wonder must he have appeared in his own eyes.
  Perhaps, in nothing does this deep, impenetrable veiling more signally appear than in the discipline through which the Lord leads us. Why we should suffer- why the suffering should come from such a quarter- or why it should assume such a form- be so dark, intense, and painful is a profound in God's dealings which we cannot fathom. But, beloved, we shall never fully unravel this mystery of suffering until we arrive at that world where all the concealments of the present will be unveiled, where the mystery of suffering will then be found to have been but the mystery of love- love lovingly disguised- and when we shall know even as also we are known.
  It is this view of the concealment of suffering which invests it with a character so solemn and sacred. Nothing requires to be touched with a hand more gentle, nothing more delicately and partially unveiled, than sorrow. It would seem as if God alone had a right to do with grief, to enter within that most sacred of all human sanctuaries, the sanctuary of a heart which affliction has smitten, whose arteries are bleeding, whose fibers are quivering, whose tenderest sensibilities are crushed beneath a calamity God only can meet, a sorrow He only knows, as He only can comfort.
  But what are some of those forms of suffering in each of which we learn the lesson and exhibit the grace of a loving, patient, acquiescence in the will of God? in other words, in which we illustrate, not the service, but the patient waiting of love. "Patient in tribulation." We reach many a home, and touch many a heart, when we place in the foreground our sad picture the suffering of bodily ailment. The world is a vast hospital. It is a lazar house of disease. Sickness is a result of the Fall, a direct result and fruit of sin. This form of parental discipline embraces a large portion of the suffering Church of God, perhaps, the largest. Enter what abode we may- the palace or the cottage, the palatial mansion of the rich, or the lowly cot of the poor- each has its bed of sickness, its couch of suffering, or its chamber of death.
  This, beloved, may be your school of discipline- the sphere in which you are called of God to exercise not the active service, but the passive waiting, of love. You were, perhaps, once an entire stranger to disease, and you could scarcely imagine that a form so stately could bow, and a constitution so robust could yield, and a bloom so brilliant could fade at the touch of sickness. But it has come! The vigor, the elasticity, the flush of health are gone, and you lie prostrate upon that couch of suffering and weakness, the shadow, the wreck of your former self. And now, what gloomy thoughts and painful self-reflections crowd upon your mind! You take up the stirring narrative that lies upon your pillow of arduous, brilliant, successful service for Christ and His truth wrought by others, and contrasting it with your own helpless inactivity and apparent uselessness, you are ready to write hard and bitter things against yourself, if not even tempted to cherish hard and murmuring thoughts against your God.
  But be still, my brother, my sister! Yours is a high school, a noble realm, an honored sphere of love- love to God flowing forth and ascending to Him in a patient, cheerful, uncomplaining endurance of His will. What a witness for Christ and a teacher of men are you on that bed of paralyzed helplessness, that couch of unmitigated pain, that room of restless, ceaseless suffering! Superficial thinkers may imagine, and your own morbid feelings may suggest to your desponding mind the thought, that, because a child of God is confined to his room, or, in ordinary language, is laid aside, that therefore he has no duties to perform, no service to engage in, no testimony to bear for Christ. A great misconception is this, a lamentable error the result, in most cases, of the gloomy, distorting effect of disease acting upon the mental and spiritual of our nature.
  The sick-room, the suffering-bed, has its peculiar and appropriate duties. Sermons are preached, truths are illustrated, lessons are taught there, heard from no pulpit and in no sanctuary in the land. To say nothing of the moral discipline to himself, of which sickness is instrumental- exercising and maturing the various graces of the Christian -what a testimony is borne from a sickbed to the sustaining power of Divine grace, to the preciousness of the Divine promises, to the love of God, and to the faithfulness, tenderness, and sympathy of the Savior!
  And, as we stand beside that sufferer, and silently gaze upon that beautiful quietness of godly submission, see the battle that is there waging between doubt and faith, despondency and hope, weakness and strength, fear and heroism, patience and irritability, and mark how the Christian shines, and how Christianity triumphs, surely there is a testimony borne in that sick, lonely, quiet chamber to the Divine nature, the sustaining, soothing, death-conquering religion of Christ found in no battle-field of the Christian strife, though strewn with the spoils and resounding with the shout of victory.
  Oh yes, you sick and suffering child of God, God has still lessons for you to learn, a work for you to do, and prizes for you to win! The lamp of life may burn long and sickly, but its dim and flickering flame may give light to some dark, bewildered soul feeling its way to Jesus; it may guide some wandering footstep back to God, may nerve some wavering faith, dispel some gloomy fear, and plant a gem in the Savior's diadem that shall sparkle in the sunlight of glory forever. Be patient, then, beloved, in this tribulation, for God is dealing well with you, you sick and suffering one, and yours is the patience of love.
  Adversity presents another illustration of the passive grace of patience. Life has its moral seasons as nature its physical. It is not always spring or summer with us- oftener it is winter. The cold, withering storms of adversity sweep over us, and we are ready to take up the language of the weeping prophet, and exclaim, "I am the man that has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath." "He has led me and brought me into darkness, but not into light. Surely against me is He turned; He turned His hand against me all the day."
  Thus, perhaps, God is dealing with you, my reader. Affliction has arrested you. You have met with a sad reverse. Your commercial affairs are embarrassed, your extensive investments are imperilled, your hard earnings are swallowed up, and your entire social position is changed. And now let patience have its perfect work, lacking nothing. All is not gone? The fruit may be blighted, the foliage may be scattered, the boughs may be broken, but the trunk and the root of the tree yet remain of spiritual life, of faith in God, of love to Christ, of integrity and uprightness, which no vicissitude of fortune can impair, no unruly blast of adversity destroy. All is not gone! God is still your Father, Christ is still your Friend, hope is still your anchor, and heaven still your home! Let the quiet spirit exclaim, "Your will, my God, be done!" Thus "in your patience shall you possess your soul."
  From the whirl, excitement, and snares of busy, active life, God is leading you into the quiet, reflective repose of comparative exile. He has purposes of wisdom and thoughts of love by this timely arrest. He has wisely, righteously interposed a check to a course, a curb to a spirit, that may have imperceptibly beguiled you on to an unseen and fearful precipice. Stand still and see His salvation; and learn from this holy lesson of your Christian life, that the patience of love, exhibited in your unswerving acquiescence, in your deadness to the world, and the closer drawing of your mind to divine things and eternal realities, may result in a richer blessing to yourself, and of greater glory to God, than the most successful enterprise in which your worldly interests were ever embarked. Hallowed discipline that yields such fruit, though it tear up and destroy, root and branch, every worldly gourd beneath whose grateful shade you sat.
  Not less beneath the correcting hand of God is this heaven-wrought grace of patient acquiescence beautifully exhibited. He greatly errs who interprets the Divine chastening as a mark and token of judicial displeasure. He has read that magnificent chapter, the twelfth of the Epistle to the Hebrews, but superficially who so construes its remarkable and consolatory teaching. Thus we read, "Whom the Lord LOVES He CHASTENS, and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons: for what son is he whom the Father chastens not? " I pause not, beloved reader, to inquire the cause of the Lord's present correction. It is a secret between Him and you, with which it behooves not a stranger to meddle. The Lord has made known His secret to you- for "His secret is with the righteous "-and you have committed yours to Him; and well will He keep it, for you have confided it to a loving and faithful heart.
  All that we know is, that you are now the subject of His loving, wise, and holy discipline, and that as such we are desirous to aid you in the culture of that most attractive grace of the chastened child, which, while it will bring sweet repose to your own spirit, will result in a rich tribute of glory to Him, "even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is of great price." Take God's servant David, as uttering the true language of a corrected yet patient and submissive child. He had been guilty of complicated crimes, and the heavy correction of a righteous Father was upon him. But mark his humble demeanor beneath the chastening rod- "And the king said to Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into the city. If I shall find favor in the eyes of the Lord, He will bring me again, and show me both it and His habitation. But if He thus say, I have no delight in you, behold here am I, let Him do to me as seems good unto Him." What remarkable language is this! How does this beauteous gem of patience in tribulation shine in this dark night of sorrow! Calm be your carriage, beloved, under the chastening hand of God.
  "Why does a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sin?" Hushed be every murmur, quiet every rebellious feeling. Be patient, silent, even cheerfully acquiescent, behaving and quieting yourself even as a child that is weaned of its mother. Oh, sweet correction that embitters sin, endears the Savior, unseals a new spring of love in my Father's heart, and gives me to see that infinite wisdom, rectitude, and goodness maintain His throne and guard all my interests!
  Patience in bearing the cross of Jesus is one of the fairest flowers blooming beneath its life-giving shadow. We have all, as Christ's followers, a common cross to bear after Jesus, and each bearer has a cross peculiar to himself. For the most part it is hidden. We but imperfectly know ourselves, and others, especially those who are the most eager to vault into the judgment-seat, know us still less.
  How little do men know the concealed cross that daily chafes and crushes us! In our home circle, in our avocations in life, in our Church-relations, in our social position, the spirit droops and faints beneath the pressure of a trial which we can lay upon no heart but Christ's. Still heavier and more chafing, perhaps, the cross of our own irascible temper, murmuring, and fretfulness, our constitutional tendency to look always at the somber shadings of the picture, the dark hues of the cloud spreading above us to interpret as combining and working against us the varied providences of our God.
  Oh, what a heavy and sore cross lies deeply veiled in the heart of many a child of God! But what, beloved, is the most sure remedy? what the emollient which softens, soothes, and heals? It is the patience of love. To be ready to carry the heavy yet sacred wood for Jesus, willing to bear reproach and contumely for His truth, willing to take the low place in His kingdom, to be set lightly by and considered as secondary, perchance to be laid entirely aside from His service altogether, oh, here is the patience and faith of the true saint and disciple of Christ, and rich the glory it brings to His great name!
  But, probably, there is not a more impressive illustration of this elevating grace of Christian patience in the endurance of suffering than is supplied by a season of bereaved sorrow. "There is no sorrow," we are tempted in its first bitterness to exclaim, "like this." At least at the moment we feel that it is the greatest. When God takes from us affluence, we feel that by honest and persevering industry we may possibly regain it. When He deprives us of health, we hope that skill and science may restore it. Or, if the venomed tongue of slander has sought to poison and taint our reputation, we are conscious that time and holy living will confound our foe and bring forth our innocence as the noon-day sun.
  But when God enters our domestic garden to gather His lilies, breaks this strong stem, plucks that beauteous flower, fells this stately cedar or that strong oak; or, to speak without a figure, when He justly takes the loved one that was but His, yet condescendingly asks it as if it were all our own- transferring to Himself the being we had felt was more than half ourselves, whose love seemed essential to our very existence, and if then we bow meekly the head and exclaim, "I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because You did it," oh this, this is indeed patience in suffering, the luster of which adds a new beam to the splendor of Christ's grace!
  The mute Christian in bereavement presents one of the finest specimens of the power of real religion recorded in its history. God said to the prophet Ezekiel, "Son of man, behold I take away from you the desire of your eyes with a stroke; yet neither shall you mourn nor weep, neither shall dry tears run down. Forbear to cry (be silent) because I have set you for a sign to the house of Israel." What stupendous grace is this which can raise a man above himself and above the sorest affliction of his life, sealing his lips in silence, or, if permitted to speak, extracting the utterances of the most filial, uncomplaining submission to God's will. "It is the Lord; let Him do what seems to Him good."
  Be patient, then, beloved, under this sore bereavement. "Himself has done it " who loves you as He loves Himself. "Am I not better to you than ten husbands, or wife, or child, or friend? Have I divorced you from myself? Have I cast you off? Have I taken your all? Am I not still yours, all yours, forever yours?" "Yes," faith responds, "You, Lord, are mine, and through blinding tears I can now see how much better, far better, that the earthly treasure of my heart should be removed thus to prepare a wider, holier temple for Yourself.
  Let "patience," then, beloved, in this season of crushing grief, "have her perfect work "that is, give to it full play and development. Let it not be hindered, suppressed, or paralyzed by fretfulness, murmuring, or rebellion. "That you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing"- that is, that there may be nothing lacking essential to the symmetry of your Christian character; that it may be, as the original expresses it, whole in every part, nothing missing.
  What apparently beautiful and perfect Christian characters we sometimes meet in the bright sunshine of prosperity; but when affliction comes, the elements and principles of their piety are not fully carried out, and the incompleteness of their Christianity becomes strikingly and painfully evident. There is opposition to God's will, a questioning of the wisdom and love of His procedure, a restiveness and restlessness which at once show that Christian patience, in other words, meek, silent submission to God, has not had her perfect work.
  This thought suggests the closing observations of the present chapter- What are we to understand more fully by patience in suffering? It is decidedly a Christian grace, wrought in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We must distinguish it from natural apathy and in difference. Apathy implies a lack of sensibility; but Christian patience, in the midst of the deepest feeling, enables the sufferer to bear the weight of his affliction without a single murmur. It is often found in alliance with the acutest sensibility; yes, it is from the depth of the deepest feeling that the truest patience often springs up the purest and most sparkling. There may exist in the unregenerate a self-control, under circumstances of the greatest provocation, strongly resembling the patience of the believer, which we must be careful not to identify with the Christian grace.
  An incident in the life of Sir Walter Raleigh will illustrate this idea. On one occasion, when insulted by a young officer at court, he placed his hand upon his sword, and calmly said, "Young man, could I wipe your blood from my sword as easily as I can your spittle from my face, I would pierce you to the heart." This, after all, was but a striking instance of natural self-command. But listen to the language and behold the patience of a greater man and of a more wounded sensibility than his. God had swept from Job all his wealth, had bereaved him of all his children, and had afflicted his body with a loathsome disease; the affection of his wife was alienated, and his "inward friends abhorred him, and those whom he loved were turned against him;" and the agony of his soul found vent in these exquisitely touching words, "Have pity upon one, have pity upon me, O my friends; for the hand of God has touched me." But how did he behave himself before God? Did he fly in His face, dispute His right, impeach His goodness? Listen to his words- "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord."
  Sublime repose! magnificent faith! God-glorifying patience! "You have heard of the patience of Job." Study it, pray over it, transcribe it, until it becomes, as it were, a part of your own moral being, you tried believer, you chastened saint of God. Was, then, this grace of patience in suffering peculiar to the patriarch? No, beloved, the feeblest saint who kisses God's rod, who falls in the dust beneath its stroke, as the wheat beneath the flail falls down at the feet of the thresher, and who lies there chastened, yet subdued, sorrowful, yet silent, afflicted, yet submissive, possesses like precious faith with job, and presents a spectacle of moral sublimity scarcely less magnificent and instructive than his.
  Can you bless God for all His dealings with you? Can you honestly bless Him for sickness? bless Him for bereavement? bless Him for poverty? bless Him for the spring He has dried, for the sun He has shaded, for the cloud-veil He has drawn over life's sweet landscape? Then you are enrolled among God's nobility; your "witness is in heaven, and your record is on high," and Jehovah looks down upon you with ineffable delight.
  Oh, what moral grandeur invests this patient and unreserved surrender of your being, your way, your entire history to God! How must angelic students study this spectacle of grace! How must it deepen the joy of glorified spirits! How must heaven grow brighter and its music sweeter by this and every other conquest of Divine grace, power, and love in the saints on earth, redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb! May this simple and entire surrender, my reader, be yours.
  Suffering child of God, "you have need of patience," and Christ can give, and His grace can sustain it, and its exercise shall be an unceasing source of praise to our great Jehovah's name. If this be so, your willing heart responds, "Then, Lord, not my way, nor will, nor pleasure, but Yours, and Yours alone."
  Again, the Christian grace of patience is to be carefully distinguished from the sullen, stoical indifference of the man who recognizes not God in his affliction. The essential difference of the two characters is this: the unregenerate man looks upon his affliction as coming forth from the dust; while the Christian man traces it to God, accepting it as a Heaven-born, God-sent dispensation. The one is sullen and morose because he regards his reverse as the result of a misjudged step, or of cruel fate; the other is joyous and praiseful because he sees the hand of a loving Father in the discipline. Hence the language of the apostle- "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into diverse trials, knowing that the trying of your faith works PATIENCE."
  The same apostle, referring to himself, says, "I am exceedingly JOYFUL in all our tribulation." And again, writing to the Colossian saints, he speaks of their being "strengthened to patience with joyfulness." Thus cheerfulness is an essential element of true Christian patience, as distinct from the petulant and gloomy spirit of the unregenerate mind, which is not resigned to God's will, because it rejoices not in His sovereignty, but reluctantly and churlishly submits to His government, because it is too impotent to resist His power. Oh, what a high attainment in our spiritual education for heaven is patience in tribulation!
  But turn we to that signal and illustrious instance of patience in suffering presented by our adorable Lord Jesus. As there never was suffering like unto His, nowhere shall we find such a perfect exhibition of Lamblike, uncomplaining endurance. His infinite intelligence, His perfect sinlessness, and exquisite human sensibility, rendered Him all the more acutely alive to the extreme baptism of suffering through Which He passed.
  Suffering to Christ was a school. "Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered." He learned experimentally. Until our Lord came under the obligation of the law, and took upon Him sin, the path of obedience and suffering must necessarily have been to Him an untrodden path. It was necessary, therefore, that He should be an experimental Savior. "He learned obedience" -He learned experimentally the nature of obedience, as also the difficulty and the blessings of obedience. He learned, too, the nature and the bitterness of suffering "by the things which He suffered." He derived not His knowledge of obedience and suffering from His own intuitive consciousness, neither did He receive it through the predictions and writings of the prophets. He would accept nothing that was merely notional or theoretical. He would know it all, understand it all, and pass through it all by a personal experience of what it was.
  Thus our Lord Jesus becomes our perfect Pattern in this one particular of His life- His patient endurance of suffering. "He opened not His mouth" to murmur or complain. He repined not, fretted not, rebelled not; but when reviled of man He reviled not again, and when afflicted of God He bowed His head and exclaimed, "Your will, not mine, be done."
 Suffering believer, come and learn how to suffer from your suffering Savior. Admire His patience in suffering; nor stop at admiration, but imitate it, transcribe it, and make it your own, for "He has left us an example that we should follow His steps."
"Perfect through suffering; may it be,
Savior, made perfect thus for me!
I love to kiss the rod
That brings me nearer to my God.
"Perfect through suffering; be Your cross
The crucible to purge my dross!
Welcome for that its pangs, its scorns,
Its scourge, its nails, its crown of thorns.
"Perfect through suffering; heap the fire,
And pile the sacrificial pyre;
But spare each loved and loving one,
And let me feed the flames alone.
"Perfect through suffering; urge the blast,
More free, more full, more fierce, more fast;
It reeks not where the dust be trod,
So the flame waft my soul to God." (Bishop Doane)
  These pages are necessarily limited to a consideration of patience in suffering; yet would I not overlook a class, a large class, who, in all probability, will scan them, who, like the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda, have been long and patiently waiting the moving of the healing waters. But why this waiting? Unlike that mystic fount, the waters of salvation are ever healing, and the atoning blood of Jesus is ever-cleansing, come when and where and how the poor, miserable, sin-burdened, guilt-oppressed soul may. Have you been long in this state of conscious sinfulness? Has no one helped you to believe in Jesus?
  Behold, Jesus Himself now passes by! He sees you, knows you, compassionates you, you sin-distressed soul, and is ready to make you whole. Your patient waiting for Christ alone to speak words of comfort, and to assure you with His own tender accents of love that you are saved, shall not be all in vain. Believe but in Jesus, believe in Him now, simply, only believe, and all the chimes of heaven will announce and celebrate the event of your soul new-born into Christ's kingdom. With joy you may now draw water from the wells of salvation, and henceforth that living stream shall be in you a well of water springing up into everlasting life. Come without preparation, believe without demur, accept without price, and God will throw around you the paternal arms of His reconciled love.
  The blessings that flow from patience in suffering are many and precious. Patience is more than half the removal of the cup, the unclasping of the burden, the healing of the wound. It brings with it peace and joy, and hope passing all understanding. The moment you cease to fret against the Lord, and assert your own will, to kick against His dealings, and to refuse to bow the neck to His yoke, that moment peace, sweet peace, lights upon you as a heaven-descending dove, and enfolds around your spirit her loving wings.
  Deeply sanctifying, too, is this grace of Christian patience in suffering. There can be no hallowed results of the Divine discipline while the heart is in a state of rebellion against God. The recipe can avail us nothing as a cure while we resist the hand that compounds and administers it. But let faith accept what reason cannot fully understand; let love interpret what sense cannot perfectly decipher; let the heart obey what the judgment cannot wholly grasp in the providential and gracious dealings, revelations, and commandments, of our Heavenly Father, and you are more perfectly conformed to His holiness.
  Patience in tribulation will not only bring you into more perfect fellowship with Christ in His suffering, but also into greater nearness to, and a holier fellowship with, the "God of all comfort." You need comfort, you crave comfort, you ask for comfort; and who can grant it you but God? Into what heart does He the most delight to pour the deepest, richest streams of consolation? Is it not the heart of the meek and patient sufferer? Listen to His words, "For thus says the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is holy; I dwell in the high and holy place with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite one." Take your place, then, low at His feet, suffering child of God, drinking meekly the cup He has given you, and your peace shall flow as a river, and your righteousness as the waves of the sea. "I, even I, am He that comforts you."
  Have I then, with God's blessing, chased one gloomy shadow from your brow, or quelled one trembling fear in your heart, suffering Christian? Then give to Him thanksgiving. Paralyzed and bed-ridden, you have deemed your life a blank, no, more, a lost life, and have wondered God has not expelled you from His Church, or removed you from the world. Be still! Remember Him who commended the thoughtful, quiet spirit of Mary above that of the active, bustling Martha, and recall to mind the expressive words of the blind poet sublime, "They also serve who only wait." Oh, no! you are not in Christ's garden a sapless tree, a fruitless branch, a withered, scentless flower. Your lowly chamber has its teaching, your suffering couch its mission; and a more Christ-exalting and God-glorifying sermon never woke the rapture of a listening throng than you by your patient endurance, simple faith, peaceful love, and fervent prayer, may preach to all who shall glorify God in you. You have thought that you could glorify Christ more by the service of love -He sees that you can best glorify Him by the patience of love.
  And now, by a "meek and quiet spirit," by exhibiting the strength of Divine grace in sustaining, and the power of covenant love in soothing the mind in the season of sorrow and weakness, you may scatter golden seeds of truth and comfort along your sad and suffering pathway, which, when the fashion of this world shall forever have passed away, and the music of its harp and violin and tambourine shall be hushed in the wailings of endless despair, will yield to you a harvest of thanksgiving and joy, and to God a revenue of glory and praise holy as His being and lasting as eternity. "You have need of patience, that after you have done the will of God you may receive the promise."