Saturday, January 21, 2012

Biblical Comfort in Affliction

John Bunyan's wife, Elizabeth, has just found out that her sorrow over her husband's imprisonment is compounded by the loss of her newborn child.  She has been lamenting over her afflictions & her faith is sorely tested.  Her good neighbor, sister Harrow, strives to give biblical comfort to soothe her grieving heart.

"Well, shall we receive good at His hand & not evil?  But what has He promised, sister Bunyan?  Don't He say that all things shall work together for our good?  Think of this.  He don't say some things, or most things, but all things.  And if we are His children, we will believe what He says; we will not doubt His word; we cannot.  Look how He brought His poor old Job through all his afflictions, & made his last days his best ones.  Your troubles are not equal to his; he had everything taken from him - houses, lands, children, camels, & all his servants - & you know he had a good many, for he was a rich man.  And then he was afflicted in his own body - all covered with boils - the sorest things in the world. . . . Just think of him in all his distresses, & how God brought him through them all.  And then you will be willing to trust Him for yourself.  He was given to us as an example to follow."

"But Job was an upright man, sister Harrow, & I'm a poor, weak, sinful creature.  I don't deserve any good at God's hands.  I am so prone to forget Him.  I don't love Him as I ought to.  I don't serve Him as I should.  He ought to scourge me, I am so wicked."

"Ah, sister Bunyan, you don't think anybody deserves any good thing from God, do you?  Oh no; it is not for our good works that He loves us; it is all His own sovereign love & mercy.  Oh, I tell you we have nothing to commend us to His favor, as your dear good man said the last time he spoke at my house; & we can't do anything.  So much sin - so much sin always here in the heart - that God can't find anything in us to love us for.  It is only for Jesus' sake - only because He died.  There's our hope, sister Bunyan - nowhere else - no, no, nowhere else.  Jesus is all, all, sister Bunyan.  No merit but His.  Yes, blessed Jesus!  Thou art all, & in all; the beginning & the end . . . ."