God has promised to sustain us by his grace.
He has promised us the sustaining grace of forgiveness, so that we can stand before him unafraid. He has promised the sustaining grace of enablement, giving us the strength to do what he calls us to do. He has promised us the sustaining grace of protection, delivering us from evil. He has promised us the sustaining grace of wisdom, protecting us from our own foolishness. He has promised us the sustaining grace of perseverance, keeping us until the final enemy has been defeated. He has promised the sustaining grace of eternity, giving us the hope of a day when the struggle will be over.
“Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend!” (Song of Solomon 5:16)
Why does the world reject the Savior of the world? Why do they abhor Him who is altogether lovely, and hate Him who is the best Friend of mankind?
O men of the world! what good can you desire which is not in Christ? The excellencies of earth are but His footstool; the excellencies of heaven are but His throne! How excellent, then, must He himself be! His treasures are infinite–and open for you!
In Jesus are . . .
riches–if you are poor;
honor–if you are despised;
friendship–if you are forsaken;
help–if you are injured;
mercy–if you are miserable;
joy–if you are disconsolate;
protection–if you are in danger;
deliverance–if you are a captive;
life–if you are mortal;
and all things–if you have nothing at all.
Time and eternity are His! He can give you all the glorious things of eternity!
Moreover, He can deliver you . . .
from all your fears;
from sin–the worst of all evils;
from self–the most hurtful of all companions;
from death–the most dreadful of all changes;
from Satan–the most subtle of all enemies;
from hell–the most horrible of all prisons; and
from wrath–the most horrifying doom of all sinners!
Now, where will you find such a one as Jesus? Why, then, refuse life, and seek after death? All heaven is enamored with His beauty!
The longer we look on ‘created gaieties’, the leaner and less lovely they grow; so that, by the time we have viewed them forty, fifty, or sixty years–we see nothing but vanity in the creature! But when ten thousand ages are employed in beholding the perfection and beauty of Jesus–He still appears more and more lovely–even altogether lovely!
Alas! I can say nothing of His true excellencies! They overwhelm my laboring thought, and are too vast for my feeble conception to bring forth!
(from “Solitude Sweetened” by James Meikle, 1730-1799)
“The question can be answered in many ways, but the richest answer I know is that a Christian is one who has God as Father…Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption…The truth of our adoption gives us the deepest insights the New Testament affords into the greatness of God’s love. Were I asked to focus the New Testament message in three words, my proposal would be – adoption through propitiation.” J.I. Packer
“Observe, concerning the first advent, that the Lord was moving in it towards man. ‘When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son.’ We moved not towards the Lord, but the Lord towards us. I do not find that the world in repentance sought after its Maker. No, but the offended God himself in infinite compassion broke the silence, and came forth to bless his enemies. All good things begin with him.” Charles Spurgeon
“That justification-by which we mean God’s forgiveness of the past together with his acceptance for the future-is the primary and fundamental blessing of the gospel is not in question. Justification is the primary blessing, because it meets our primary spiritual need. We all stand by nature under God’s judgment; his law condemns us; guilt gnaws at us, making us restless, miserable and in our lucid moments afraid; we have no peace in ourselves because we have no peace with our Maker. So we need the forgiveness of our sins, and assurance of a restored relationship with God, more than we need anything else in the world; and this the gospel offers before it offers us anything else…But contrast this, now, with adoption. Adoption is a family idea, conceived in terms of love, and viewing God as father. In adoption, God takes us into his family and fellowship-he establishes us as his children and heirs. Closeness, affection and generosity are at the heart of the relationship. To be right with God the judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father is greater.” J.I. Packer
“I once knew a good woman who was the subject of many doubts, and when I got to the bottom of her doubt, it was this: she knew she loved Christ, but she was afraid he did not love her. ‘Oh!’ I said, ‘that is a doubt that will never trouble me; never, by any possibility, because I am sure of this, that the heart is so corrupt, naturally, that love to God never did get there without God putting it there.’ You may rest quite certain, that if you love God, it is a fruit, and not a root. It is the fruit of God’s love to you, and did not get there by any the force of any goodness in you. You may conclude, with absolute certainty, that God loves you if you love God.” Charles Spurgeon
Jean Valjean, my brother,
you no longer belong to evil.
With this silver I have bought your soul.
I have ransomed you from fear and hatred
Now I give you back to God. (Victor Hugo)
They are the happiest Christians, who have the lowest thoughts of themselves, and in whose eyes Jesus is most glorious and precious. John Newton
“Unto you who believe He is precious.” 1 Peter 2:7
“The love of God is spelled out on the cross and nowhere else. The only basis for which God can forgive me is the cross of Christ.” J. Oswald Chambers
“Forgiveness wasn’t free or easy. It was hard. It was costly. It was painful. We can’t fully comprehend the agony Christ suffered on our behalf. But it was required to rescue you and me.
We’re called to forgive as we’ve been forgiven. That means when we’re hurt deeply, when forgiveness seems impossible—we accept the suffering forgiveness requires.
If forgiveness seems out of the question in one of your relationships, you have a great opportunity to be like Jesus and forgive.” Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering but in being weary of joy. G. K. Chesterton
When ours are interrupted, his are not. His plans are proceeding exactly as scheduled, moving us always (including those minutes or hours or years which seem most useless or wasted or unendurable) “toward the goal of true maturity” (Rom 12:2). E. Elliott
When you and I hurt deeply, what we really need is not an explanation from God but a revelation of God. We need to see how great God is; we need to recover our lost perspective on life., Things get out of proportion when we are suffering, and it takes a vision of something bigger than ourselves to get life’s dimensions adjusted again. W. Wiersbe
The “Why?” becomes unimportant when we believe that God can and will redeem the pain for our good and his glory…. When I put the sovereignty of God beside his unfailing love, my heart can rest. Verdell Davis
Where does your security lie? Is God your refuge, your hiding place, your stronghold, your shepherd, your counselor, your friend, your redeemer, your saviour, your guide? If He is, you don’t need to search any further for security. E. Elliott
In a way I wish I could take to heaven my old, tattered Everest and Jennings wheelchair. I would point to the empty seat and say, “Lord, for decades I was paralyzed in this chair. But it showed me how paralyzed You must have felt to be nailed to Your Cross. My limitations taught me something about the limitations You endured when You laid aside your robes of state and put on the indignity of human flesh.” At that point, with my strong and glorified body, I might sit in it, rub the armrests with my hands, look up at Jesus, and add, “The weaker I felt in this chair, the harder I leaned on You. And the harder I leaned, the more I discovered how strong You are. Thank you, Jesus for learning obedience in your suffering…You gave me grace to learn obedience in mine.” Joni Eareckson Tada
So many times we say that we can’t serve God because we aren’t whatever is needed. We’re not talented enough or smart enough or whatever. But if you are in covenant with Jesus Christ, He is responsible for covering your weaknesses, for being your strength. He will give you His abilities for your disabilities! Kay Arthur
Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God. Robert Schuller
The fact that disabled people hang in there does something for Christians. It’s not about being an inspiration for others, it more than that…. it’s a mystery. God somehow strengthens others by their faithfulness. They may feel like a burden to others, but God thinks the opposite. He thinks its necessary for others to take care of the disabled… they do more for one’s spiritual well being than can be imagined. What’s more is that it’s all being credited to the disabled person’s account, per Phillipians 1:25-26. Joni Eareckson Tada
Let your mind be renewed by this: God cannot lie. God is love…. “The steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.” Do you know why the Bible tells us things like that? its because we’re tempted to think that it hasn’t endured… that it doesn’t reach me in 2009 in this situation. So God keeps speaking to us and telling us “no! it does! it endures forever. It lasts forever. It is for you… God gave up His own Son to death to save you from sin. And He points to that to show you how deeply he cares for you.
He asks you to measure His faithfulness and His love by the cross. If He would do that for me, how much more will he meet me when I’m growing weary in my sickness, when I’m wishing I had that relationship, when I don’t know what tomorrow holds. How much more is God going to care for me. God’s Word tells us that His arm is not too short to save. He is able to meet us in any circumstance… Look back on your life. Not ONE of God’s promises has failed. That doesn’t mean you haven’t faced disappointment. But look back. All of God’s promises to be with you and to be faithful… not one has failed. Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart. Not a partial trust.
SO here’s the idea I want you to think about … this kind of leaning (lean not on your own understanding) leaves us vulnerable. If this thing I’m leaning on were to go away I would fall flat on my face. And that leaves me off balance… this is a little scary. I’m trusting in something else. Leaning on the Lord leaves us off balance and we don’t like to feel off balance. A lot of us spend our entire Christian lives running away from the feeling of being off balance. That feeling of being vulnerable… of being held up by God… this is exactly where God created us to live…and that is exactly where we are the most secure than we’ve ever been.” Exceprt by Joshua Harris from sermon at CovLife on 8/9/09: Total Trust.
“If Christ calls me to suffer, he will strengthen me to suffer in such a way that God is glorified.” J. Burroughs.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. All the works of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness. In faithfulness you have afflicted me… that Christ may be glorified in my body, whether by life or by death. We are pressed on every side but not crushed, persecuted but not forsaken, cast down but not destroyed. For I am convinced that nothing can separate me from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. I am poor and needy—yet the Lord thinks upon me! He only is my Rock, my Fortress. I shall not be shaken.
Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on them in their sorrow. They will be radiant because of the many gifts the Lord has given them—the good crops of wheat, wine, and oil, and the healthy flocks and herds. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs, where pools of blessing collect after the rains! Their life will be like a watered garden, and all their sorrows will be gone.
I will never leave you or forsake you. I will not leave you as orphans. I, even I, am the one who comforts you. Cast all your cares upon Me, for I care for you. I will provide for your needs according to my riches and glory.
“Beloved, it is well. It is good to be afflicted. Our days of suffering here we call days of darkness; hereafter they will seem our brightest and fairest. In eternity we shall praise Jehovah, most of all for our sorrows and tears. So blessed shall they then seem to us, that we shall wonder how we could ever have wept and sighed.” (Horatius Bonar)
(by Joshua Harris)
In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read “Girls I Have Liked”. I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.
And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn’t match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.
A file named “Friends” was next to one marked “Friends I Have Betrayed”. The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. “Books I Have Read”, “Lies I Have Told”, “Comfort I Have Given”, “Jokes I Have Laughed At”. Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: “Things I’ve Yelled at My Brothers.” Others I couldn’t laugh at: “Things I Have Done in My Anger”, “Things I Have muttered Under My Breath at My Parents”. I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped.
I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my 16 years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature. When I pulled out the file marked “Songs I Have Listened To”, I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn’t found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.
When I came to a file marked “Lustful Thoughts”, I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.
An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: “No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!” In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn’t matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.
Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore “People I Have Shared the Gospel With”. The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand. And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that the hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.
But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn’t bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?
Finally, He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn’t anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn’t say a word. He just cried with me.
Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. “No!” I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was “No, no,” as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn’t be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, “It is finished.” I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.
“Why am I so blessed? I am blessed because, in the most painful moment in human history, Jesus willingly subjected himself to the rejection of his Father. He took on my sin and allowed himself to be rejected. In this unthinkable moment of substitution, the Trinity was torn apart as the Father turned away the Son. Here is what you and I have to understand: Jesus was willing to suffer the horrible rejection of his Father so that you and I would never, ever have to experience it ourselves.”
– Paul David Tripp, A Shelter in the Time of Storm (Wheaton, IL; Crossway Books, 2009), 92.