Tag Archives: Sorrow

“It’s His song, not mine, that I’m here to sing” by Elisabeth Elliot

“There are sometimes spaces in our lives that seem empty and silent. Things grind to a halt for one reason or another. Not long ago, the ‘music’ in my life seemed to stop because of a rejection, a loss, and what seemed to me at the time a monumental failure.

I was feeling rather desolate when I came across a paragraph written more than a hundred years ago by the artist John Ruskin:

There is no music in a rest, but there is the making of music in it. In our whole life-melody, the music is broken off here and there by ‘rests,’ and we foolishly think we have come to the end of time. God sends a time of forced leisure– sickness, disappointed plans, frustrated efforts– and makes us a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives and we lament that our voices must be silent, and our part missing in the music which ever goes up to the ear of the Creator. How does the musician read the rest? See him beat time with unvarying count and catch up the next note true and steady, as if no breaking place had come between. Not without design does God write the music of our lives. But be it ours to learn the time and not be dismayed at the ‘rests.’ They are not to be slurred over, nor to be omitted, not to destroy the melody, not to change the keynote. In the end we will see that in order to have a complete song, we must have the ‘rests’ in between the notes. If we look up, God Himself will beat time for us. With the eye on Him we shall strike the next note full and clear.

So the Lord brought to me precisely the word I needed at the moment: There was ‘the making of music’ in what seemed a hollow emptiness.

It’s His song, not mine, that I’m here to sing. It’s His will, not mine, that I’m here to do. Let me focus my vision unwaveringly on Him who alone knows the complete score, ‘and in the night His song shall be with me,’ (Psalm 42:8).”

–Elisabeth Elliot, Secure in the Everlasting Arms (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2002), 161-162.

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“The best University for a Christian” by Charles Spurgeon

“The wilderness was the Oxford and Cambridge for God’s students. There is no University for a Christian like that of sorrow and trial.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Marah Better than Elim,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 39 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1893), 39: 151.

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“The way of most holiness is always the way of most happiness” by J.C. Ryle

“Let us leave the passage with the settled conviction that sin is sure to lead to sorrow, and that the way of most holiness is always the way of most happiness.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1857/2012), 263-264. Ryle is commenting on Mark 14:66-72.

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“His whole library was swept away from him” by William Symington

“To a person of these studious habits it may easily be conceived what distress it must have occasioned to have his library swept away from him. In that dreadful misfortune which befell the metropolis in 1666, ever since known as ‘the fire of London,’ the whole of Charnock’s books were destroyed.

The amount of calamity involved in such an occurrence can be estimated aright only by those who know from experience the strength and sacredness of that endearment with which the real student regards those silent but instructive friends which he has drawn around him by slow degrees, with which he has cultivated a long and intimate acquaintance, which are ever at hand with their valuable assistance, counsel and consolation, when these are needed, which, unlike some less judicious companions, never intrude upon him against his will, and with whose very looks and positions, as they repose in their places around him, he has become so familiarized, that it is no difficult thing for him to call up their appearance when absent, or to go directly to them in the dark without the risk of a mistake.

Some may be disposed to smile at this love of books. But where is the scholar who will do so? Where is the man of letters who, for a single moment, would place the stately mansions and large estates of the ‘sons of earth’ in comparison with his own well-loaded shelves?

Where is the student who, on looking round upon the walls of his study, is not conscious of a satisfaction greater and better far than landed proprietor ever felt on surveying his fields and lawns—a satisfaction which almost unconsciously seeks vent in the exclamation, ‘My library! A dukedom large enough!’

Such, and such only, can judge what must have been Charnock’s feelings, when he found that his much cherished volumes had become a heap of smouldering ashes.

The sympathetic regret is only rendered the more intense, when it is thought that, in all probability, much valuable manuscript perished in the conflagration.”

–William Symington, as quoted in Stephen Charnock, “Life and Character of Charnock” in The Existence and Attributes of God, Vol.1 (Robert Carter & Brothers, 1853), 14.

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“The lone island of despondency” by Charles Spurgeon

“I think that this is the darkest of all the Psalms. It has hardly a spot of light in it. The only bright words that I know of are in the first verse. The rest of the Psalm, is very dark, and very dreary.

Why, then, am I going to read it? Because, it may be, there is some poor heart here that is very heavy.

You cannot tell out of this great crowd how many sorrowing and burdened spirits there may be amongst us. But there may be a dozen or two of persons who are driven almost to despair.

My dear friend, if this is your case, I want you to know that somebody else has been just where you are.

Remember how the shipwrecked man upon the lonely island all of a sudden came upon the footprints of another human being.

So here, on the lone island of despondency, you shall be able to trace the footprints of another who has been there before you. Hear how he prays.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “An Exposition of Psalm 88” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (vol. 41; London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1895), 478.

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“Go and tell Jesus” by Jonathan Edwards

“I would now apply myself to the honoured one, who stood in the nearest relation of any to the deceased, whom God by this awful providence has made a sorrowful widow.

Suffer me, honoured madam, in your great affliction, to exhibit to you a compassionate Redeemer.

God has now taken from you that servant of His, that was the nearest and best friend you had in this world. He was your wise and prudent guide, your affectionate and pleasant companion.

He was so great a blessing while he lived, to you and your family, and, under Christ, was so much the comfort and support of your life.

You see, madam, where your resort must be: your earthly friends can condole your loss, but cannot make it up to you. We must all confess ourselves to be but miserable comforters.

But you may go and tell Jesus, and there you may have both support and reparation. His love and His presence is far beyond that of the nearest and most affectionate earthly friend.

Now you are bereaved of your earthly consort, but you may go to a spiritual Husband, and seek His compassion and His company.

He is the fountain of all that wisdom and prudence, that piety, that tender affection and faithful care, that you enjoyed in your departed consort.

In Him is an infinite fountain of all these things, and of all good.

In Him you may have light in your darkness, comfort in your sorrow, and fulness of joy and glory in another world, in an everlasting union with your dear, deceased relative, in the glorious presence of the same Redeemer, in whose presence is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand are pleasures for evermore.

This doctrine also directs the bereaved, afflicted children, that are, with hearts full of grief, now mourning over a dear departed father, where to go and what to do.

You will no longer have your father’s wisdom to guide you, his tender love to comfort and delight you, and his affectionate care to guard you and assist you.

You will no longer have his pious and judicious counsels to direct you, and his holy examples set before you, and his fervent, humble, believing prayers with you and for you.

But in the blessed Jesus, your father’s Lord and Redeemer, you may have much more than all those things. Your father’s virtues that made Him so great a blessing to you, were but the image of what is in Christ.

Therefore go to Jesus in your mourning: go and tell Jesus. Tell a compassionate Saviour what has befallen you.

Heretofore you have had an earthly father to go to, whose heart was full of tenderness to you. But the heart of His Redeemer is much more tender.

His wisdom and His love is infinitely beyond that of any earthly parent. Go to Him, and then you will surely find comfort.

Go to Him, and you will find that, though you are bereaved, yet you are not left in any want. You will find that all your wants are supplied, and all your loss made up, and much more.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “The Sorrows of the Bereaved Spread Before Jesus,” in  The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 2. Ed. Edward Hickman (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1834/1998), 2:968. The entire sermon may be read here. Edwards preached this sermon on Matthew 14:12 on September 2, 1741, at the funeral of the Rev. William Williams. In this section Edwards is speaking directly to the widow and children of the deceased.

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“He gives songs in the night” by Jonathan Edwards

“Jesus was one that wept with those that wept. And indeed it was mere pity that brought Him into the world, and induced Him not only to shed tears but to shed His blood.

He poured out His blood as water on the earth, out of compassion to the poor, miserable children of men.

And when do we ever read of any one person coming to Him when on earth, with a heavy heart, or under any kind of sorrow or distress for pity or help, but what met with a kind and compassionate reception?

And He has the same compassion now He is ascended into glory. There is still the same encouragement for bereaved ones to go and spread their sorrows before Him.

Afflicted persons love to speak of their sorrows to them that have had experience of affliction, and know what sorrow is. But there is none on earth or in heaven that ever had so much experience of sorrow as Christ.

Therefore He knows how to pity the sorrowful. Christ is able to afford all that help that is needed. His power and His wisdom are as sufficient as His purpose, and answerable to His compassions.

By the bowels of His mercies, the love and tenderness of His heart, He is disposed to help those that are in affliction. And His ability is answerable to His disposition.

He is able to support the heart under the heaviest sorrows, and to give light in the greatest darkness. He can divide the thickest cloud with beams of heavenly light and comfort.

He is one that gives songs in the night, and turns the shadow of death into the morning: he has power to make up the loss of those that are bereaved…

Persons under sorrowful bereavements are ready to go and lay open their sorrows to them that they think will be ready to pity them, though they know they can but pity them, and cannot help them.

How much more is here in such a case to induce us to go to Jesus, who is not only so ready to pity, but so able to help, able abundantly more than to fill up the breach, and able to turn all our sorrows into joy!”

–Jonathan Edwards, “The Sorrows of the Bereaved Spread Before Jesus,” in  The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 2. Ed. Edward Hickman (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1834/1998), 2:966-967. The entire sermon may be read here. Edwards preached this sermon on Matthew 14:12 on September 2, 1741, at the funeral of the Rev. William Williams.

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