by Mike Ratliff
2 My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. Psalms 84:2 (NASB)
I try to reread John Bunyan’s Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners from time to time. I need the perspective change found there at times so that I quit listening to the wrangling nature of my flesh and, instead, crucify it, take up my own cross and follow my Lord. That means, I follow His example instead.
18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. 19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. 1 Peter 2:18-20 (NASB)
A contemporary of Bunyan’s was George Swinnock (1627 – November 10, 1673). Like Bunyan, he was a worthy minister of the gospel, but was ejected from his pulpit for nonconformity after the Restoration of Charles II. However, he was able to preach again briefly before his death after the 1672 Indulgence. His works were collected into five volumes. The following is an excerpt based upon Psalm 84:2.
Earthly portions are limited in their nature and the comfort they yield. Health is better than sickness, but does not help poverty. Honor is better than disgrace, but does not help against pain. Money is said to be the answer of all things, but cannot command ease in sickness, or much less quiet a wounded spirit. Ahab was miserable in his ivory palace. Haman, though he had the favor of the king and adoration of the people was yet discontented because he wanted Moredecai’s submission. If the world’s darlings enjoy many good things, they lack all without Christ. God is all good things, and every good thing. He is self-sufficient, alone-sufficient, and all-sufficient. If God were your portion you would find in Him whatsoever your heart could desire, and tend to your happiness. Are you ambitious? He is a crown of glory. Are you covetous? He is unsearchable riches and righteousness. Do you desire pleasure? He is rivers of pleasures and fullness of joy. Are you hungry? He is a feast of wine on the lees and the fat things full of marrow. Are you weary? He is rest, a shadow from the heart, and a shelter from the storm. Are you weak? He is everlasting stregnth. Are you doubting? He is marvelous in counsel. Are you in darkness? He is the Sun of righrteousness. Are you sick? He is the God of all consolations. Whatever your calamity, He can remove it. Whatever your necessity, He can relieve it. He is silver, gold, honor, delight, food, raiment, house, land, peace, wisdom, power, beauty, father, mother, wife, husband, mercy, love, grace, glory, and infinitely more than all these. There are all sorts of delights in Him. He is the tree of life bearing all manners of fruits, and a variety of comforts. See God, and you see all. Enjoy God, and enjoy all. – George Swinnok, Works
When we are self focused and flesh driven, this sort of understanding is foreign to us. It is as if it has left our consciousness. However, when we consider the Grace of God freely abounding to us who are completely undeserving, whatever our burden, we understand right then that God is bearing it with us and He has an eternal purpose in it and then we begin to know His Peace and Joy.
Soli Deo Gloria!