Morning Exercises; for Every Day in the Year, by Reverend William Jay (Sprinkle Publications; Harrisonburg, Virginia), 1998.
“I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.” Psa. 55:8.
“Such was the language of David; and it may be the language of any other good man, in the depths of distress. But is it allowable and proper? There is no perfection here; and there is nothing concerning which we should indulge more tenderness of censure than hasty expressions, uttered under the pressure of pain or grief. Perhaps it was to prevent our severity here that the cases of Job and Jeremiah are recorded, both of whom, though eminent in piety, cursed the day of their birth. The Scripture is not harsh upon them; and it is observable, that when James refers to one of these bitterly complaining sufferers, he only says, ‘Ye have heard of the patience of Job.’ They who have never been in a state of peculiar distress, know little of the feelings of human nature under it. But there are others who can respond to the invitation of sympathy: ‘Pity me , pity me, O ye my friends, for the hand of God hath touched me.’ And the Father of mercies knows our frame, and remembers that we are dust. We are not required to choose suffering for its own sake, or to be indifferent to ease and deliverance. Our Savior himself had not that fortitude which mocks at pain, but that which felt deeply, and yet submitted. With strong cryings and tears he prayed, ‘Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.’
“But what allows of excuse, truth does not require us to commend. It was his infirmity that induced David to long for death, to hasten his escape from the stormy wind and tempest: and an old writer tells us it would have been more honorable for him to have asked for the strength of an ox to bear his trials, than for the wings of a dove to flee from them. Is not such language unworthy and ungrateful? Should we overlook and forget all our comforts? Have not these been great and numerous? And did we then long to flee away? Yea, are they not many and various even now? And shall we only dwell on the dark side? Let us examine again, and let truth and thankfulness stand by. And may they not yet be many and great? Afflictions are not immutable dispensations. What changes often take place, to the surprise as well as joy of desponding sufferers.
‘The Lord can change the darkest skies—
Can give us day for night;
Make drops of sacred sorrow rise
To rivers of delight.’
“And is there no unbelief in the case? You are afraid of all your sorrows; and not only of their continuance and increase, but of their influence and effects. You dread lest you should not bear them properly, so as to glorify God; but sink in the day of adversity. Yet, O thou of little faith, wherefore dost thou doubt? Is not he able to preserve and support and comfort thee? And has he not engaged to do it? Has he not said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee? ‘When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.’ And has not his conduct always accorded with this assurance, both with regard to others and with regard to thyself?
‘Did trouble ever yet befall,
And he refuse to hear they call?
And has he not his promise passed,
That thou shalt overcome at last?’
More than once you have been appalled in the prospect of a trial; but when the evil day came, there came with it mercy and grace to help. Perhaps you even gloried in tribulation. Perhaps you would not refuse to pass through some of those distressing exercises again, to enjoy the same peace and comfort.
“Is there not much ignorance and inconsideration in this impatience? How do you know that it is better to escape from these troubles than to bear them? Not one of them has befallen you by chance. May you not infer the righteousness of them all from their very author? Is not his work perfect? Are not his ways judgment? He doth all things well. Does he detain you in distress because he does not love you? Yea, he loved you with an everlasting love; and withheld not his own Son from you. You may therefore entirely confide in him, assured that if he does not release you, it is because he waits to be gracious; and also equally assured, that blessed are all they that wait for him; for it is good for a man not only to hope, but quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.
“First, your own welfare may require the process. The Saviour was made perfect through suffering; and the character of every Christian is more formed and improved from his afflictions than his enjoyments. What would some of you have lost, had you fled away before such a trying dispensation enriched your faith and hope. How much of your happiness in heaven will arise from a review of your present conflicts on earth. The very trial of your faith is precious; and the crown of life is promised, not to him that escapes, but to him that endureth temptation. Afflictions are heavenly agents, and work for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
“Secondly, the welfare of others may require it also. We are detained here to be useful, and we are often most useful in our trials. Nothing strikes like facts. The passive graces are the most impressive. They are better than a thousand sermons; better to arrest the careless, to instruct the ignorant, to encourage the timid, to comfort the desponding. It was well Bunyan did not escape from the prison at Bedford, or we should not have had his Pilgrim’s Progress, and his Holy War. Paul was a prisoner, and knew to depart and be with Christ was far better; nevertheless, because it was more needful for the Philippians, he was willing to abide in the flesh, and acquiesced in the adjournment of his deliverance and bliss. And here you also may be wanted. Perhaps you have a venerable mother, and are required to rock the cradle of her age who rocked the cradle of your infancy. Perhaps you are a parent, and a rising family is dependent on your care, instructed by your wisdom, edified by your example. We are all placed in circumstances where we may prove a blessing, and this is our only opportunity. We may glorify God in heaven, but not in the same way as now, by submission, patience and self-denial. This is an advantage we have above the glorified. They cannot exercise candor, and forgive injuries, and relieve distress, and save souls. Life is ours as well as death. Therefore all the days of our appointed time let us wait, till our change comes.”
-From Morning Exercises; for Every Day in the Year, by Reverend William Jay of England (Sprinkle Publications; Harrisonburg, Virginia), 1998.