THE TREE OF LIFE by
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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."