This pastoral passage was written for LRBC for June 17 2018.
This is a quote I had planned to share during my sermon on Jesus’ healing ministry a few weeks ago (Matthew 8:1-17). It comes from the 19th century London Baptist preacher named Charles Spurgeon. He was no stranger to suffering. He suffered ill health for much of his adult life, and frequently recovered his health in the warmer climate of southern France. Eventually he suffered an early death at the age of 57. One time, when he suffered a particularly severe attack of gout, he found mercy with the Lord in a special way. He recalled it like this:
“I have found it a blessing, in my own experience, to plead with God that I am his child. Some months ago, when I was suffering with an extreme pain, so bad that I could not bear it without crying out, I asked everyone to go out from my room, and leave me alone. Then I had nothing I could say to God but this:
‘You are my Father, and I am your child; and you, as a Father, are gentle and full of mercy. I could not bear my child to suffer as you make me suffer; and if I saw him tormented as I am now, I would do what I could to help him and put my arms under him to sustain him. Will you hide your face from me, my Father? Will you still lay on me your heavy hand, and not give to me your smile? . . . If he be a Father, let him show himself to be a Father.’
This is what I prayed; and when those who cared for me came back I had courage to tell them that I shall never have such agony again from this moment, for God has heard my prayer.’ I bless God that relief came, and the most terrible pain never returned. Faith mastered it by laying hold upon God in His own revealed character – the character in which, in our darkest hour, we are best able to appreciate him.”