I was reading and pondered this quote:
“To be cast down is often the best thing that could happen to us.”
Imagine if you stood by someone’s bedside while they battled cancer–the chemo causing intense vomitting and hair and weight loss–quoting the words of Spurgeon. Or imagine someone who was just sexually abused, or even weeping by the grave of a loved one, or someone who just lost their job. The words of Spurgeon would not necessarily be the wisest or kindest words to say. What should we say? We say nothing. We sit in the ashes; we weep with those who weep; we talk more to God about them than we talk to them about God. We do not need to declare in the sorrowful, excruciatingly horrible moments what grace and time in God’s hands can do or even prove to the downcast. What do we do with the quote? We speak his sentiment sparingly and carefully. What else?
We learn and train ourselves to embody the sentiment by Spurgeon. We know full well how sorrows can negatively change a person–it can harden us, embitter us, destroy and break our faith in God and ultimately make us cynical about people.
How do we learn to embody the sentiments of Spurgeon that “to be cast down is often the best thing to happen to us”? Spurgeon directs our gaze to Jesus Christ. Jesus is called, Immanuel, God with us. There is a temptation in our Christian lives where we lie to ourselves and think, “God gives us immunity from the world.” No. We must not fall into that lie. God is the One who does not leave us when people, sickness, and weather do their worst. Spurgeon, shedding light and a healing balm on the sorrowful soul, “‘There is no remedy for sorrow beneath the sun like the sorrows of Immanuel.’ The sympathy of Jesus is the next most precious thing to his sacrifice.”
The power of Jesus Christ is awesome. He speaks to our sorrows and commands them to serve His purposes. Hence, Paul’s exultations in Romans 8:28! Sorrows are caused by sinful actions or consequences–sometimes not even by your doing but you receive them and Jesus sovereignly brings them into His own counsel. Our sorrows are changed by the grace of God and soon take on His purposes to advance His intentions. His intentions certainly thwart and change the murky waters of sorrow. Sorrow belongs to Jesus. Jesus is their master!
The sermons were so helpful brethren. Spurgeon identifies some benefits when Jesus redeems sorrow and is with us during those hard times:
Sorrow puts forth our pride into light
“It is a good thing for us to be taken down a notch or two. We sometimes rise too high, in our own estimation, that unless the Lord took away some of our joy, we should be utterly destroyed by pride.”
Sorrow forces us to re-examine ourselves and to be simply honest about ourselves and our problems. “When this downcasting comes, it gets us to work at self-examination… When your house has been made to shake, it has caused you to see whether it was founded upon a rock.” I’m reminded of the story of the big bad wolf and the three pigs. He huffs and puffs and blows their house down. You wouldn’t know which was the most stable and secure unless the wolf attempts to blow them down.
Sorrow reveals our immaturity contrasted to true maturity modeled by Jesus
“Depression of spirit is no index of declining grace; the very loss of joy and the absense of assurance may be accompanied by the greatest advancement in the spiritual life… we do not want rain all the days of the week, and all the weeks of the year; but if rain comes sometimes, it makes the fields fertile, and fills the waterbrooks.”
Maturity comes through some painful lessons.
Sorrow sharpens our empathy for others:
“If we had never been in trouble ourselves, we should be very poor comforters of others… It would be no disadvantage to a surgeon if he once knew what it was to have a broken bone; you may depend upon it that his touch would be more tender afterwords; he would not be so rough with his patients as he might have been if he had never felt such pain himself.”
Hebrews 4 speaks of our High Priest, Jesus Christ, who is able to sympathize with our weakness and in every respect was tempted as we are, yet without sin. He knew pain; He knew sorrows. Jer. 31:13 is the beautiful exchange God commits to the burdened soul through Christ, an exchange of sorrow for gladness.
Sorrow is a means of drawing us closer to Jesus in true dependence
“When you and I were little boys, and we were out at eventide walking with our father, we used sometimes to run on a long way ahead; but, by and by, there was a big dog loose on the road, and it is astonishing how closely we clung to our father then.”
Our world may fall apart but Jesus is our terra firma ; He is our Rock. True strength rises from the ashes of our cries on the unchanging shoulder of Christ.
Spurgeon: Sermon on The Man of Sorrows (http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols19-21/chs1099.pdf) and Sweet Stimulants for the Fainting Soul (http://www.biblebb.com/files/spurgeon/2798.htm)