Spurgeon and those who wandered before us

“Let no agitation distress you, but be quiet from fear of evil. Whatsoever cometh upon the earth, you, beneath the broad wings of Jehovah, shall be secure. Stay yourself upon his promise; rest in his faithfulness, and bid defiance to the blackest future, for there is nothing in it direful for you. Your sole concern should be to show forth to the world the blessedness of hearkening to the voice of wisdom.”
– CH Spurgeon, Morning, July 6

A friend of mine on Facebook posted this as her status. While the language is a bit thick in its olden way, the truth still trumpets out, and somehow, comes soft and gentle too….like Jesus whispering comfort to His beloved as she leans into His way.

I love it.

Today I also pondered part of Hebrew’s 11. That hall of faith that we so readily remember has a wonderful section near the end. It summarizes the point of the Hall of Faith. These people trusted, and DIED. They didn’t see what God had promised. They didn’t receive the good circumstances of Jesus’s arrival before they breathed their last breath.

Hebrews 11:13-16

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised;(AA) they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.(AB) And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.(AC) 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.(AD) 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.(AE) Therefore God is not ashamed(AF) to be called their God,(AG) for he has prepared a city(AH) for them.”

But, they trusted (the word that the Complete Jewish Bible uses for Faith is trust) anyway.

Not only that, they were commended for it.

Now, when I think of commendation, I think of moving up in the world. I think of getting what you think you want (or deserve). Better circumstances, less pain, more answers. This however, is not true for the warriors who have gone ahead of us in the realm of faith, who have been citizens of the Kingdom prior to our coming.

They had worse circumstances than the average person, more pain, and (probably) fewer answers.

At the end of chapter 11 it says this:

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon,(BB) Barak,(BC) Samson,(BD) Jephthah,(BE) David,(BF)Samuel(BG) and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms,(BH) administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,(BI) 34 quenched the fury of the flames,(BJ) and escaped the edge of the sword;(BK)whose weakness was turned to strength;(BL) and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.(BM) 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again.(BN) Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection36 Some faced jeers and flogging,(BO) while still others were chained and put in prison.(BP) 37 They were stoned[f];(BQ) they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword.(BR) They went about in sheepskins and goatskins,(BS) destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves(BT) and holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended(BU) for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.(BV) 40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us(BW) would they be made perfect.(BX)

Wow. That’s a lot of stuff they did through faith. But most of the things on that list include pain (battles, swords, sawing, flogging, jeers, weakness, desitute, persecuted, mistreated, wandeirng, caves, mountains, deserts, holes, prison.) At at the same time, they were walking by faith they did what seemed imposible. Powerful in Battle! Quenching flames! Shutting the mouths of Lions! Administering Justice! Weakness turned into STRENGTH!

As I walk by faith, I have no guarrentee that life is going to get any “better” when it comes to experiencing pain. In fact, it could get a lot worse. But as I consider the passage above, I can’t help but get excited about what the Holy Spirit is able to accomplish in such dire circumstances. All the time that they were facing death and pain, their weaknesses were being turned into strengths.  This is what is better.

As I think of my weaknesses, I think of immobilizing fear, sickening worry, poor self-image (identity in Christ), my desire for the approval of others, and so many other more Christian-culture unacceptable sins (as if only part of them were acceptable). 

Made into strengths? This could only be the work of God. And this is what He is doing! It is HIS plan!

{2 Corinthians 12:9-10}

“”But he said to me, “My grace(P) is sufficient for you, for my power(Q) is made perfect in weakness.(R)(S) Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight(T) in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,(U) in persecutions,(V) in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.(W)”

How delightful! His plan is working to turn my immobilizing fear into confident faith, my sickening worry into strong trust. He desires to turn my poor self-image into beautiful continual assurance of His delight in me (delight, what a word that is hard for me to swallow). My desire of approval of others turns to desiring His Holiness in me to make me whole (holy).

His work, not mine.

Here we rest in this, that this summer is just as important as last summer (though not experienced overseas). And each day is good work to do. The men who wrote to the various churches (and those persecuted in those churches) were in physical prisons. They were physically kept from doing miraculous things outwardly in front of everyone. Their circumstances seemed probably very hindering to what God could have been doing. But what is interesting and encouraging is that God’s work and His ways were not hindered by the persecution. They were doing God’s will by praising Him in prision, and by enduring in His name! In their weakness, He was proclaimed as strong.

They knew that pain and death didn’t have the final word. 

Pain and death still do not have the final word today.

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