June 14: Walking In The Midst Of Trouble

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you will revive me.” Psalm 138:7

Contemplate the Psalmist’s circumstances “Walking in the midst of trouble.” It was no new and untrodden path along which he was pursuing his way to God. The foot-print, sometimes stained with blood, always moistened with tears- of many a suffering pilgrim might be portrayed in that way, from the time that Abel, the primeval martyr, laid the first bleeding brow that ever reposed upon the bosom of Jesus.

And yet how often does trial overtake the believer, as “though some strange thing had happened to him”! That at the peculiar nature of an affliction a Christian man should be startled and alarmed, would create no surprise; but that he should be startled at the trial itself, as if he alone- the only one of the family- were exempted from the discipline of the covenant, and had no interest in the Savior’s declaration, “In the world you shall have tribulation,” might well astonish us.

But David’s experience is that of many of the spiritual seed of David. His words seem to imply, continuous trial: “I walk in the midst of trouble.” With how many travelers to the celestial city it is thus! They seem never to be without trial. They know no cessation, they obtain no repose, they experience no rest. The foam of one mountain billow has scarcely broken and died upon the shore, before another follows in its wake- “Deep calls unto deep.”

Is it the trial of sickness? the darkened chamber, scarcely ever illumined with one cheering ray of light, the bed of suffering, seldom offering one moment’s real repose, the couch of weariness, rarely left, are vivid pictures of trial, drawn from real life, needing no coloring of the fancy to heighten or exaggerate.

Is it domestic trial? What scenes of incessant chafings and anxieties, turmoils and sources of bitterness, do some families present; trouble seems never to absent itself from the little circle. Yes, it is through a series of trials that many of Christ’s followers are called to travel.

The loss of earthly substance may be followed by the decay of health, and this succeeded perhaps by that which, of all afflictions, the most deeply pierces and lacerates the heart, and for a season covers every scene with the dark pall of woe- the desolation of death. Thus the believer ever journeys along a path paved with sorrow, and hemmed in by trial. Well, be it so!

We do not speak of it complainingly; God forbid! We do not arraign the wisdom, nor doubt the mercy, nor impeach the truth of Him who has drawn every line of that path, who has paved every step of that way, and who knows its history from the end to the beginning. Why should our heart fret against the Lord? Why should we weary at the way? It is the ordained way- it is the right way- it is the Lord’s way; and it is the way to a city of habitation, where the soul and body- the companions of the weary pilgrimage- will together sweetly and eternally rest.

Then all trouble ceases; then all conflict terminates. Emerging from the gloom and labyrinth of the wilderness, the released spirit finds itself at home, the inhabitant of a world of which it is said, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.”

The Suffering Saint: Domestic Pain

In gearing myself up to begin researching the needed books andĀ resourcesĀ I will need to assemble the future book on Winslow, I am begining to see that there will need to be an entire chapter (if not an entire book) layed aside for the topic of suffering and pain in the life of the believer. Winslow penned many a sentence on this topic and the more I have read him and the more I review his own historical biography, I am starting to see that he himself was a man well versed in this subject.

But Winslow, I see, thought about this topic aright. He knew of it’s sanctifying powers and it’s ability to bring us more intimately in touch with the life and communion of our Lord. After all, the Lord Jesus was indeed a man of “constant sorrow” and led much of His ministerial life in some form of pain, suffering, or trial. In order to form us into the likeness of our Savior, suffering is a tonic we will all, at some time or another, be made to drink of. There is simply no getting around it.

I am going to have a running series here based on the suffering saint that will run as long as I can find good and solid writings of Winslow on the subject that will not only help me flesh him out a bit as a man, husband, and pastor, but will also, I pray, help some of you who may be in a season of trial, burden, pain, and suffering of some form.

There will be no end date for this series. It will run until I simply can find no more material.

May you be edified I pray.

Our Lord was sensitive to the pain of domestic slight.

It is marvellous to trace the perfect assimilation of His humanity to all the natural circumstances of ours. Was there no betrayal of sensitiveness to this peculiar form of suffering when He quoted the proverb as applicable to Himself- “A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and in his own house?” He was as a stranger among His brethren, an alien in His Father’s house.

They doubted Him- slighted Him- insulted Him. Jesus felt the neglect- and felt it keenly. His sensitive spirit was wounded. How many of the Lord’s people are drinking this cup of sadness, are enduring this form of suffering! The icy coldness, the studied slight, the marked neglect of those of your own house, whose confidence, affection, and sympathy you had not forfeited and had a right to possess, is a daily cross, chafing, wounding, fretting the spirit sorely. But your Lord and Master prepared you for this- teaching you the precept, and then enforcing it by His example “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, no; but rather division: for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.” “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”

How faithfully does our Lord here forewarn His disciples, that love to Him and a profession of His gospel would, in many instances, involve the weakening, if not the entire rupture, of those ties, the closest and the dearest, which bind us to earth’s kindred. The religion of Jesus is a separating religion; it has done but little for us if it has not severed us from the world, and quenched in us the spirit of the world, and separated us from all worldly association, and sympathy with the world’s followers, bound to us though they are by ties which we cannot and may not entirely sunder.

Oh, how extensive and subtle a snare is the world to a disciple of Jesus- to one desirous of living for eternity! Our relations are snares- our friendships are snares- our alliances are snares- our business transactions are snares- our necessary recreations of intellect and taste are snares- and our social and domestic enjoyments are often but pleasant bowers within whose foliage lurks the tempter. If, then, beloved reader, the Lord has given you grace to tread the narrow path of separation- shaded and secluded though it be; if you are called to witness for Jesus and His gospel against the world, error, and sin, surrounded by those with whom you sported in childhood, among whom your youth was trained, who are entwined with associations of later life the sweetest, and with memories of earlier life the most sacred and dear, and yet you are the object of alienated affection, frigid neglect, doubt, and scorn, because you love the Savior- Oh, do not be cast down, as though sonic strange thing had happened to you.

Your Lord and Master, for whom you suffer; suffered all this, and infinitely more, for you; and in sympathy and in love soothes and supports and suffers with you now.