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“The depths of our misery can never fall below the depths of mercy.”

Richard Sibbes

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“Can we wish, if it were possible, to walk in a path strewed with flowers when His was strewed with thorns?”

John Newton

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Surprised by Suffering

Some believers are very surprised when they are called to suffer. They thought they would do some great thing for God, but all God permits them to do is to suffer. Just suppose you could speak with those who have gone to be with the Lord; everyone has a different story, yet everyone has a tale of suffering. One was persecuted by family and friends … another was inflicted with pain and disease, neglected by the world … another was bereaved of children … another had all these afflictions. But you will notice that though the water was deep, they all have reached the other side. Not one of them blames God for the road He led them; “Salvation” is their only cry. Are there any of you, dear children, murmuring at your lot? Do not sin against God. This is the way God leads all His redeemed ones.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne
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God Will Deliver

Whatever misery God’s children are in, yet in the best time God will deliver them. … The Israelites were under a long and strong affliction for many years, under tyrants that whipped their bodies, and scourged them, and put them to labor above their strength, and (which was a most intolerable vexation) made the parents drown their own children. No one ever treated any so spitefully as they were used; yet we see that God delivered them. So in the Psalm He says, “Many are the troubles of the righteous, but God delivers them out of all” (34:19). It is not their wealth, nor money, for of that they are often bare enough; nor friends, for sometimes they have none; nor their strength, for they are often weak and brought low. But God will deliver them. Let them get righteousness, and faith, and the spirit of prayer, and though they were in an iron furnace under Pharaoh, in a house of bondage, let them but cry, and from thence God will deliver them. So in Esther’s time, a wonderful affliction it was, that the day of execution was appointed, when all the godly should be put to the sword, not one to be left alive. But now, when they could cry to God, and had no one else to go to but only to Him, and Him they would go to, and stay upon, knowing that He could help them if He would, and would also for His promise’s sake deliver them, then we see, the day that was appointed for their sorrow, turned to their joy; that which was purposed to bring destruction upon them, brought destruction upon their enemies; and the day of their most extreme misery, proved to be a day of their most joyful deliverance.

John Dod, A Plain and Familiar Exposition of the Ten Commandments (1632), 20.

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Do Not Measure God’s Love by Feelings

Do not measure God’s love and favour by your own feeling. As God loved you before, so He loves you as well and as dearly still; when He hides His face, as when He bestows His lovingkindness to shine most comfortably upon you. He loved Christ as dearly when He hanged on the tree, in torment of soul and body, as He did when He said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17); yea, and when He received Him up into glory.

The sun shines as clearly in the darkest day as it does in the brightest. The difference is not in the sun, but in some clouds which hinder the manifestation of the light thereof. So God loves us as well when He does not shine in the brightness of His countenance upon us as when He does. Job was as much beloved of God in the midst of his miseries as he was afterwards when he came to enjoy the abundance of his mercies (Job 42:7).

—Richard Sibbes
Adapted from The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, 2:320.