Joy in the Midst of Suffering

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 am in the process of rereading John Bunyan’s Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. I need the perspective change 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 (1 Peter 2:18-23) instead. Also, this past Sunday, our pastor, Brian Mills, in his sermon, spent some time on the Summer Camp that our Church sends our youth to every Summer here in Oklahoma, which is called Falls Creek. He said something I will will never forget about the importance of the camp experience in the Spiritual growth of these youth. He said it is vital for all of us, in order to grow spiritually, that we starve our flesh and feed our Spirit and that is what happens at camp. I thought about that and realized that my own spiritual development has been along those very lines. I have got alone, denied myself, prayed as much as possible and fed myself from the Word through much Bible Study or Doctrinal studies or Bible translations from the NA28 Greek text to English.  I also spend time in the Word every morning before breakfast as well as reading devotionals and spending time in prayer. This is where God has me. What He has you doing may be different, but this what He has me doing. I also listen to sermons in the evening from several good pastors that I follow like Voddie Bacham and John MacArthur and I listen to lectures or teachings by friends like Alan Kurschner. When you do that, you feed your spirit not your flesh. 

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 completing 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 know His Peace and Joy.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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