‘Absalom sent for Joab … but he would not come to him: and when he sent again the second time, he would not come. Therefore he said unto his servants, See, Joab’s field is near mine, and he hath barley there; go and set it on fire … Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom unto his house, and said unto him, Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire?’ 2 Samuel 14:29–31
Suggested Further Reading: Romans 5:1–5
Under your cross you have many special comforts. There are cordials which God gives to sick saints which he never puts to the lips of those who are in health. Dark caverns keep not back the miners, if they know that diamonds are to be found there: you need not fear suffering when you remember what riches it yields to your soul. There is no hearing the nightingale without night, and there are some promises which only sing to us in trouble. It is in the cellar of affliction that the good old wine of the kingdom is stored. You shall never see Christ’s face so well as when all others turn their backs upon you. When you have come into such confusion that human wisdom is at a nonplus, then shall you see God’s wisdom manifest and clear. Oh! the love-visits which Christ pays to his people when they are in the prison of their trouble! Then he lays bare his very heart to them, and comforts them as a mother does her child. They sleep daintily who have Jesus to make their beds. Suffering saints are generally the most flourishing saints, and well they may be, for they are Jesus’ special care. If you would find a man whose lips drop with pearls, look for one who has been in the deep waters. We seldom learn much except as it is beaten into us by the rod in Christ’s school-house under Madam Trouble. God’s vines owe more to the pruning knife than to any other tool in the garden; superfluous shoots are sad spoilers of the vines. But even while we carry it, the cross brings present comfort; it is a dear, dear cross, all hung with roses and dripping with sweet smelling myrrh.
For meditation: The comforts arising from our afflictions as believers are for our own benefit (Psalm 119:50,52), but they should also overflow from us for the blessing of others (2 Corinthians 1:4; 7:5–7).
Sermon no. 563
3 April (1864)