Knowing God’s Love

Sometimes we think that the Lord does not love us because we do not feel or know His love. But do we not love our children even when they are young and do not know us? … We may think that because we have so many sins, or so many afflictions, that therefore the Lord does not love us, but do we judge righteously? Have our children no love from us when they are sick? God knows our mold that we are but dust. He has freely chosen us to be His children, and therefore (notwithstanding all our sins and sufferings) He loves us still. If He sees Ephraim bemoaning his stubbornness, as well as sickness, the Lord cries out, and cannot refrain: “Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he my darling child? For as often as I speak against him, I do remember him still. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 31:20).

Isaac Ambrose, Prima, Media, and Ultima (1674), 79.


The Brokenness of Our Own Way

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way…
Isaiah 53:6

Little by little as time goes on, many of us do not believe that the standards established by God are relative to our age. We discard His directions for living. We ignore His instructions for our conduct. We tum each to his own way only to find that our difficulties deepen. We see ourselves caught up in a worldly way of existence. Life becomes a meaningless mockery. God’s absolute values of integrity, loyalty, justice, honour, love, and fine nobility are cast aside. And in their place we find ourselves an impoverished people left only with discouragement and despair. We are robbed blind and left destitute with broken lives, broken hearts, broken minds, broken homes, broken bodies, and a broken society. Jesus was speaking a truth we should pay attention to when He said that it was possible for us to be pillaged and plundered by the false philosophies and crass materialism of our times. Unhappily most people simply won’t believe Him. They know better, or so they think. But they end up broken and beaten.
(Phillip Keller, The Shepherd Trilogy, 213).

But [Christ] was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5


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.


Our First Responsibility

Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!”
—Luke 23:47—

We cannot always or even often control events, but we can control how we respond to them.

When things happen which dismay or appall, we ought to look to God for his meaning, remembering that He is not taken by surprise nor can his purposes be thwarted in the end. What God looks for is those who will worship Him. Our look of inquiring trust glorifies Him.

One of the witnesses to the crucifixion was a military officer to whom the scene was surely not a novelty. He had seen plenty of criminals nailed up. But the response of this Man who hung there was of such an utterly different nature than that of the others that the centurion knew at once that He was innocent. His own response then, rather than one of despair that such a terrible injustice should take place, or of anger at God who might have prevented it, was praise (Luke 23:47).

This is our first responsibility: to glorify God.

In the face of life’s worst reversals and tragedies, the response of a faithful Christian is praise—not for the wrong itself certainly, but for who God is and for the ultimate assurance that there is a pattern being worked out for those who love Him.

—Elisabeth Elliot
A Lamp Unto My Feet


The Nurse and the Falling Child

“The nurse lets the child get a knock sometimes, in order to make it more cautious.”

Thus does the Lord in Providence allow his children to suffer by their sins, that they may be more thoughtful in future. He has no hand in their sin; but, since the sin is in them, he allows circumstances to occur by which the evil is made manifest in open acts, which cause them sorrow.

When a physician sees a person suffering from an inward complaint, he may think it wise so to deal with his patient that the disease is brought to the surface; and thus also God may permit the sins of his people to come to an open sore, that they may be aware of them, and seek for healing.

The nurse does not make the child careless or cause it to tumble, but she withdraws her interposing care for the best of reasons, namely, that the little one may learn to avoid danger by a measure of suffering on account of it. It would be blasphemous to attribute sin to God; but it is a matter of fact that, by smarting for one fault, gracious men learn to avoid others.

—Charles H. Spurgeon
Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden (Passmore & Alabaster, 1883).

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