Sunday, February 12, 2012

Only a Puritan . . .

Consideration 5:  If it be bad now, it will be better shortly.
O keep thy heart by that consideration: the meal in the barrel is almost spent; well, be it so, why should that trouble me, if I am almost beyond the need and use of all these things. The traveller hath spent almost all his money, but a shilling or two left: well, saith he, though my money be almost spent, yet my journey is almost finished too; I am near home, and then I shall be fully supplied.  If there be no candles in the house, yet it is a comfort to think that it is almost day, and then there will be no need of candles. I am afraid, Christian, thou misreckonest thyself when thou thinkest thy provision is almost spent, and you have a great way to travel: many years to live, and nothing to live upon; it may not be half so many as thou supposest; in this be confident, if thy provision be spent, either fresh supplies are coming, though thou seest not from whence, or thou art nearer thy journey's end than thou reckonest thyself to be.
~A Saint Indeed: or, The Great Work of a Christian, Opened and Pressed, by John Flavel (section entitled 'How a Christian may keep his heart from distrusting God, or repining against Him, when outward wants are either felt or feared"), in The Works of Flavel, volume 5

Essentially Flavel is saying that if your straits are really so dire, either a) God will meet your needs, b) He will give you the grace to bear the circumstances, per I Cor. 10:13, or c) you will die.  In which case you will be with Christ and you won't need whatever it is anymore anyway.  Either way, your time of 'need', your period of trial, your suffering, will be of short duration.  If you lack an actual can't-live-without-it need, God will meet it or you will die.  

It's actually a surprisingly comforting--if unusual--reminder.  We tend to think of our hardships as unlivable.  But usually they really, really aren't.  They're unpleasant, sure.  And they take a lot of patience and endurance and literal long-suffering.  But God enables us to endure our trials.  And if they're really and truly unendurable, He will either deliver us from them, or He will bring us home.  
Only a Puritan would think to encourage the suffering with the reminder that their difficulties will soon be relieved by death.

No comments: