Sermon 0320: Contentment (Charles Spurgeon 1860)

contentment this sermon was first preached on March 25th in the year 1860 by charles haddon spurgeon the text for today comes from the book of Philippians Philippians chapter 4 verse 11 I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances the Apostle Paul was a very educated man but one of his greatest attainments in his studies was this he had learned to be content this kind of knowledge is far better than much that is acquired in schools they're highly educated made diligently look upon the past but too often those who gather the relics of antiquity with enthusiasm are thoughtless about the present and neglect the practical duties of daily life their knowledge may open up the dead languages to those who will never derive any living benefit from them it is far better to have the education of the Apostle it was a thing that had present value and also it was useful for all generations one of the rarest but one of the most desirable accomplishments I ranked the greatest philosopher and the most scholarly of our team bridge men at the lowest level when compared with this educated apostle for this surely is the highest degree in humanities to which a person can possibly attain to have learned that whatever the circumstances to be content you will immediately see from just a casual reading of the text that contentment in all circumstances of life is not the natural tendency of man unwanted weeds grow very quickly greed discontent and murmuring are as natural to man as weeds are to the soil you have no need to sow weeds they grow naturally because they are native to the earth upon which rests the curse in the same way you have no need to teach men and women to complain they complain easy enough without any education but the precious things of the earth must be cultivated if we want wheat we must plow and so if we want flowers there must be a garden and all the gardener's care now contentment is one of the flowers of heaven and if we want to have it it must be cultivated it will not grow on us naturally it is the new nature and the new nature alone that can't produce it and even then we must be especially careful and watchful that we maintain in cultivate the grace the grace which God has sown in it Paul says I have learned to be content which is saying that he wasn't always contented but that it cost him some pains to attain to the mystery of that great truth of contentment no doubt he sometimes thought he had learned contentment but then was dissatisfied with the circumstances of his life most likely like boys at school he had to have his knuckles rapped a few times frequently Paul found that it was not easy learning to be content and finally when he had mastered it and could say I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances stances by that time he was an old gray-headed man at the very edge of the grave a prisoner locked up and Nero's dungeon in Rome we too might be willing to endure Paul's weaknesses his trials and persecutions and share the cold dungeon with him if we might in some way achieve such a degree of contentment don't any of you indulge in the silly notion that you can become content without the process of learning to be content or learn without discipline contentment is not a quality that comes naturally but a discipline to be acquired gradually the very words of the text might suggest this even if we did not know it from experience we do not need to be taught to spread rumors but we must be taught to submit in the will and good pleasure of the Lord our God when the Apostle had uttered these words he immediately gave a commentary on them read the twelfth verse I know what it is to be in need I know what it is to have plenty I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation whether well fed or hungry whether living in plenty or in want notice first that the Apostle said he knew what it was to be in need to be humbled the Apostle said he knew what it was to be in need to be humbled this is wonderful knowledge when everyone honors us then we may easily be content but when the finger of scorn has pointed at us when our character is slandered and men hiss at us behind our backs then it will require a good understanding of the word of God to be able to endure that with patience and with cheerfulness when we have all of our needs met and are increasing in status honor and in the esteem of others then again it is easy to be content but when we have to say with John the Baptist I must decrease or when we see some other servant advanced in our place and another man holding the hand that we longed to hold then it is not easy to sit still and without envying our hearts to cry out with Moses I wish that all the Lord's people were prophets to hear another man praised at your own expense to find your own virtues ignored in order to describe the superior qualities of some new rival to be able to bear this with joy and thankfulness and to praise God is beyond human nature there must be something Noble in the heart of the man who is able to lay down all of his honours as willingly as he took them up when he can just as cheerfully submit himself to be humbled by Christ has to be lifted up and sat on a throne by the Lord and yet my brothers and sisters not one of us have learned what the Apostle knew which was that we must be just as ready to glorify Christ by disgrace by humiliation and by reproach as by the honor and the admiration of men we must be ready to give up everything for Christ we must be willing to go downwards in order that Christ's name may ascend upwards and that Christ would become better known and glorified among men I know what it is to be in need said the Apostle his second piece of knowledge is equally valuable I know what it is to have plenty Paul's second piece of knowledge is equally valuable I know what it is to have plenty there are a great many men who know how to act when they are in need yet they have no clue no clue how to respond when they have plenty when they are put down into the pit with Joseph they look up and see the story promised and they hope for an escape but when they are put on the top of a pinnacle their heads grow dizzy and they are ready to fall when they were poor they used to battle it but note the same men after success has crowned their struggles their troubles are over they are rich and have amassed many things and haven't you often seen a man who has sprung up from nothing to wealth become very proud of his money and vain and intolerant nobody would have ever thought that that man ever worked behind a counter as a salesman would you he is so great in his own eyes that one would have thought the blood of all the Caesars must flow in his veins he acts as if he no longer knows any of his old acquaintances the familiar friend of days past he now passes by with scarcely a nod of recognition the man does not know how to act when he as plenty when he receives not only wealth but to praise an honor of men he has grown proud he is exalted above measure there have been men men who for time have been lifted up to a very high level of popularity in the church they have preached successfully and done some mighty work for this the people have honoured them and rightly so but then they have become tyrants they have lusted after Authority they have looked down contemptuously on everybody else as if other men were nothing but small pygmies and they they were huge Giants their conduct has been intolerable and they soon were cast down from their high places because they did not know how to act when they had plenty once a square piece of paper was placed on George Whitefield pulpit it was a prayer request that read a young man who has lately inherited a large fortune requests the prayers of the congregation now that was an excellent prayer request for when we go up the hill of prosperity we need prayer that we may walk sure and steady going down the hill of fortune there is not half the fear of stumbling the Christian more often disgraces his profession in prosperity than when he is being humbled he need there is another danger the danger of growing worldly the danger of growing worldly when a man finds that his wealth increases it is amazing how the gold will stick to his fingers the man who had just enough thought that if he had more than he needed then he would be very generous with the extra with a penny wallet he had a gold heart but now with a gold wallet he has a penny heart he finds that money adheres to him and he cannot part with it you have heard of the spider that is called a money spinner I don't know why it is called this except that it is one of those spiders you cannot get off your fingers it gets on one hand then the other hand then on your sleeve it is here and there you cannot get rid of it unless you completely crush it so it is with many who believe that gold is a good thing when put to use it is the strength the muscle of Commerce and charity but it is a bad thing in the heart and produces nothing but corrosion Gold is a good thing to stand on but it is a bad thing to have wrapped around a man's body or worn on his head it doesn't matter if it is the most precious gold on earth if it buries a man alive oh how many Christians have there been who were destroyed by their wealth destroyed by their wealth Oh what harm to our soul and neglect of spiritual things had been brought about through the very mercies and bounties of God yet this does not have to be but the Apostle Paul tells us that he knew how to live with plenty when he had plenty he knew how to use it he had prayed and asked God to keep him humble that when he had a fool sale he might have plenty of ballast that when his cup ran over he might not let it run to waste that in his time of Plenty he might be ready to give to those that were in need and that as a faithful steward he might place all he had at the disposal of his Lord this is divine learning I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty the apostle goes on to say I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation whether well fed or hungry whether living in plenty or in want it is a divine lesson let me say to know how to be well fed for the Israelites were once well fed and while the meat was still in their mouth the wrath of God came upon them and there have been many that have asked for mercies that they might satisfy their own hearts lust as it is written the people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry being full of food has often brought on the depravity of spirit when men have too much of God's mercies strange that we should have to say this and yet it is a great fact when men have received a lot of God's providential mercies it often happens that they have only a little of God's grace and little gratitude for the bounties they have received they are full they are satisfied and they forget God satisfied with the earth they are content to do without heaven rest assured my dear friends it is harder to know how to be fool than it is to know how to be hungry to know how to be hungry as a strong lesson but to know how to be fool is truly the harder lesson in the and the human nature of man is so wretched that it naturally leans towards pride and the forgetfulness of God as soon as we have a double stock of manna and begin to hoard it it breeds worms and becomes a stench in God's nostrils be careful be careful that you ask in your prayers that God would teach you how to have plenty the Apostle also knew how to experience the two extremes of poulos and hunger the Apostle also knew how to experience the two extremes of fullness and hunger what a trial that is for one day have a path strewn with mercies and the next day to find the soil beneath you barren of every comfort I can easily imagine the poor man being contented in his poverty because he has become accustomed to it he is like a bird that has been born in a cage and does not know what Liberty means but for a man who has had a good portion of this world's material wealth and thus has had plenty to be brought to absolute poverty well he is like the bird that once soared high above the earth but is now living in a cage those poor skylarks you sometimes see in the pet shops always seem as if they are looking up and they are constantly pecking at the wires fluttering their wings and wanting to fly away so will it be with you unless grace prevents it if you ever have been rich and are brought down to be poor you will find it hard to know how to be hungry indeed my brothers and sisters it must be a hard lesson we sometimes complain of the poor we complain that they murmur too much oh we would murmur a great deal more than they do if their lot fell to us to sit down at the table where there is nothing to eat and five or six little children crying for bread would be enough to break the father's heart or for the young mother when her husband has been suddenly carried to the grave to gaze around on the gloom stricken home pressing her newborn infant to her breast and look upon the others with her widowed heart remembering that they are without a father to provide for their livelihood oh we need a lot of grace to know how to be hungry and for the man who has lost his job and has been walking all over the city perhaps a thousand miles trying to find another job and he cannot find one then to come home and know that when he faces his wife her first question will be have you brought home any bread and then have you found any work to do and then to have to tell her no there have been no doors open to me it is hard to learn to be hungry and to bear it patiently I have had to admire and look with a sort of reverence on some of the members of this church when I have happened to hear afterwards of their hardships they would not tell anyone and they would not come to me but they endured their pains in secret struggled heroically through all their difficulties and dangers and came out more than conquerors old brothers and sisters it looks like an easy lesson when you see it in a book but it is not quite so easy when you come to put it into practice it is hard to know what it is to be fool but it is a severe thing to know what it is to be hungry our apostle had learned both both what it is to have plenty and what it is to be in need having thus explained to you the Apostle Paul's own commentary and enlarged and upon the words of my text let me now return to the passage itself you may now ask by what course of study did he acquire this peaceful frame of mind and one thing we may be quite certain of it was not by a self-generated indifferent attitude but simply and exclusively by faith in the Son of God you may easily imagine a prince or nobleman whose home is the house of luxury traveling through the whole world for purposes of scientific discovery for going forth to command some military expedition for the glory of his country in either case he may be very contented with his mission and feel that there is nothing to complain about and why because he had no right to expect anything better because there was no task in the world that could compare with his rank his fortune or his social position at home it is the same with our apostle he had said our citizenship is in heaven he was content content traveling throughout the earth as a pilgrim and a stranger and to be treated as such or entering the battlefield he had no ground of complaint that perils and distresses would sometimes encircle his path while at other times a truce gave him some peaceful and pleasing intervals there is nothing in hunger nothing in thirst or nakedness or peril to induce our contentment if we are content under such circumstances it must be from higher motives that our condition provides hunger is a sharp thorn when in the hands of Stern necessity but hunger may be voluntarily endured for many hours when conscious makes a man willing to fast reproach may have a bitter Fang but it can be bravely endured when I am motivated by a sense of the Justice of my cause now the Apostle Paul counted that all the troubles which happened to him were just part just part of his service to the Lord therefore because of the love he had for Jesus the hardships of being his servant and self-denial sat lightly on his shoulders and were accepted joyfully by his heart there is yet a third reason a third reason why Paul was content I will illustrate it many an old war veteran takes great pleasure in recounting the dangers and sufferings of his past life many an old war veteran takes great pleasure in recounting the dangers and sufferings of his past life he looks back with more than contentment often times with self congratulation upon the terrible dangers and distresses of his heroic career yet the smile that lights his eye and the pride that sits on his wrinkled brow as he recounts his stories we're not there when he was in the midst of the scenes he is now describing it is only since the dangers are passed the fears have subsided and the issue is complete that his enthusiasm has been kindled into a flame Paul was looking at a broad overview of his life with Christ and said in all these things we are more than conquerors witnesses voyage to Rome when the ship in which he sailed was caught and driven before a stormy wind when darkness covered the skies when neither Sun nor stars appeared for many days when every heart lost hope he alone persevered with courage and why the angel of God stood next to him and said do not be afraid his faith was based on the doctrine of predestination in the sovereignty of God and as such he had just as much peaceful contentment in his heart while the tribulation lasted as when it was over and now I want to convey the lesson of my text very briefly to the rich a little more at length to the poor and then with sympathy and counsel to the sick those who are undergoing trials and distress in their bodies by suffering first to the rich to the rich the Apostle Paul says I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances now some of you have as far as your circumstances are concerned all that the heart can ever wish for God has placed you in such a position that you do not have to work with your hands or even sweat to earn a living you will perhaps think that any exhortation to you to be contented is needless this is simply not true for a man may be very discontented though he is very rich it is quite possible for discontent to sit on the throne in a mansion as it is to sit on a chair a poor broken chair in a Shack remember that a man's contentment is in his mind not in the amount of his possessions Alexander when the entire world was at his feet cries out for another world to conquer he is sorry because there are not other countries in which he may carry his victorious arms and wait up to his hips in the blood of his fellow men to quench the thirst of his greedy ambition to you who are rich it is necessary that we give the same exhortation as to the poor learn to be content many a rich man who has a vast estate is not satisfied because there is a little corner piece a little corner piece of ground that belongs to his neighbor just like Mavis Vineyard that the king of Israel wanted that he might use it for a vegetable garden since it was close to his palace what does it matter he says even though I have all these acres unless I can have neighbours vineyard surely a king should have been ashamed to crave that poultry 1/2 acre that poultry 1/2 acre of a poor man's inheritance yet so it is men with vast estates which they scarcely are able to ride over may have that old leech in their hearts which always cries give give more more they thought when they had only a little money that if they had $20,000 it would be enough they have it now and now they want $50,000 when they have that they will still want more yes and if they get more than they will ask for just a bit more so it will continually be as your possessions increase so will the desire of acquiring more possessions we must then emphasize to the rich this exhortation learn to be content whatever the circumstances besides there is another danger that frequently awaits the rich man when he has enough wealth and property he does not always have enough honor if the Queen would only make him a justice of the peace for the county how glorious would my lord become that done he will never be satisfied until he is a knight and if he were a knight he would never be content until he became a baron and my lord would never be satisfied until he was an earl nor would he even then be quite content unless he could be a duke nor would he be quite satisfied then unless there was a kingdom for him somewhere men are not easily satisfied with honor the world may bow down at a man's feet then he will ask the world to get up and bow again and so keep on bowing forever for the lust of Honor is unquenchable man must be honored and though King Ahasuerus made Haman the most elevated man in the Empire yet all this was nothing nothing so long as Mordecai did not bow down to my Lord Haman whoa learn my brothers and sisters in whatever circumstances you are to be contented and here let me pause to speak to the elders and deacons of this church to the elders and deacons of this church brothers learn to be content with the office you hold not envious of any superior honor to exalt yourselves I turned to myself I turned to the ministry I turned to all of us in our ranks and degrees in Christchurch we must be content with the honor God is pleased to confer on us no let us think nothing of honour but be content to give it all up knowing that it is nothing but a puff of wind after all let us be willing to be the servants of the church and to serve them for nothing if need be even without the reward of their thanks may we only receive in the end only the praise from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ we must learn to be content whatever the circumstances I now desire to counsel the poor I now desire to counsel the poor I have learns of the Apostle to be content whatever the circumstances a very large number of my present congregation belong to those who work hard and who perhaps without any unkind intention on my part may be put into the category of the poor they have enough barely enough and sometimes they are even reduced to a poverty level now remember my dear friends you who are poor there are two sorts of poor people in the world two sorts of poor people in the world there are the lords poor and there are the devil's poor as for the devil's poor they become poor by their own idleness their own vice their own extravagance I have nothing to say to them today there is another class the Lord's poor they are poor through difficult Providence's poor but industrious laboring to do all things honestly in the sight of all men but yet they still continue through an inscrutable Providence to be numbered with the poor and the needy brothers and sisters you will excuse me in exhorting you to be contended and yet why should I ask to be excused since it is a part of my responsibility to stir you up to everything that is pure and lovely and admirable I implore you in your humble sphere cultivate contentment do not be idle seek if you can by superior skill steady perseverance and moderate 15s to raise your position do not be so extravagant as to live entirely without care or carefulness for he that does not provide for his relatives and especially for his immediate family he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever but at the same time be contented and where God has placed you strive to adorn that position give thanks to him and bless his name and shall I give you some reasons for doing so listen remember that if you are poor in this world so was your Lord that if you are poor in this world so was your Lord a Christian is a believer who has fellowship with Christ but a poor Christian has in his poverty a special strain of fellowship with Christ opened up to him your master wore peasants clothing spoke with a peasant tone of voice his companions were the hard-working fishermen Jesus was not one who was clothed in purple and fine linen and dined sumptuously every day he knew what it was to be hungry and thirsty no he was poorer than you for he did not even have a place to lay his head let this console you why should a disciple be above his master or a servant above his Lord moreover in your poverty you are capable of communion with Christ you can say was Christ poor now I can sympathize with him in his poverty was he weary and did he sit to rest by the well I am weary too and I can have fellowship with Christ in that sweat which he wiped from his brow some of your brethren cannot experience what you can it would be wrong of them to attempt to do it for voluntary poverty is voluntary wickedness but in as much as God has made you poor you have a capacity for walking with Christ where others cannot you can go with him through all the depths of care and woe and almost follow him into the wilderness of temptation when you are in your poverty and difficulties because of the lack of bread that there's always cheer and comfort you and make you happy in your poverty because your Lord and Master is able to sympathize as well as to help permit me to remind you again that you should be contented because otherwise you would contradict your own prayers let me remind you that you should be contented because otherwise you will contradict your own prayers you kneel down in the morning and you say thy will be done suppose you then get up and want your own will and rebel against the sovereign will of your heavenly father haven't you made yourself out to be a hypocrite the language of your prayer at variance with the feeling of your heart let it always be sufficient for you to think that you are where God puts you haven't you heard the story of the heroic boy that heroic young boy on board the burning ship when his father told him to stand in a certain part of the vessel he would not move until his father told him but Stood Still when the ship was on fire though warned of his danger he held his ground until his father told him to move there he would stay the ship was blown up and he perished in his faithfulness and shall a child be more faithful to an earthly parent than we are to our Father who is in heaven he has ordered everything for our good and can he ever forget about us let us believe that whatever God appoints for us his best let us choose rather to do his will than our own if there were two places one a place of poverty and another a place of riches and honor if I could have my choice it would be my privilege to say yet not as I will but as you will another reflection suggests itself if you are poor you should be contented with your position because depend on it it is best for you if you are poor you should be contented with your position because and depend on it it is best for you absolute perfect wisdom determined your destiny if you were rich you would not have as much grace as you now have perhaps God knew that if he didn't make you poor he would never get you to heaven at all and so he has kept you where you that he may bring you to his kingdom suppose there is a ship fully loaded with a heavy cargo to be brought up a river and in one part of the river there is a very shallow area should someone ask why does the captain steer his vessel through the deepest part of the channel his answer would be because I would never get it into harbor if I did not take it by this course so it may be with you that you would remain a ground and suffer shipwreck if your divine captain did not always make you trace the deepest part of the water and make you go where the current ran with the greatest speed some plants die if they are exposed too much it may be that you are planted in some sheltered part of the garden where you do not get as much Sun as you would like but you are put there as a plant of his own righteous planting that you may bring forth fruit unto perfection remember this had any other conditions been better for you than the one in which you are God would have put you there let me say that again had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are God would have put you there you are put by him in the most suitable place and if you could have overridden your God assigned position in life then you would have come back a half an hour later and said Lord choose for me for I have not chosen the best after all you have heard perhaps that old Aesop's fable where some men complained to the god Jupiter have their afflictions in life and that God and anger told every one of them to get rid of his affliction and take one that they would like better they all came and planned to do so there was a man who had a lame leg and he thought he could do better he had a blind eye the man who had a blind eye thought he could do better if he had to bear poverty and not blindness while the man who was poor thought poverty the worst of afflictions he would not mind taking this sickness of the rich man if he could only have his riches so they all made a change but the fable says that within an hour they were all back again asking that they might have their original afflictions back they found the original affliction was so much lighter than the ones that they chose likewise this is what you would experience then be content you cannot better your situation take up your cross you could not have a better trial than the one you have it is best for you it sips you the most they will do you the most good and prove the most effective means of making you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God and surely my dear friends if I need to add another argument why you should be content it would be this whatever your trouble it is not prolonged whatever your trouble it is not prolonged you may have no estate on earth but you will have a large one in heaven and perhaps that estate in heaven will be all the more larger because of the poverty you have had to endure here below you may scarcely have a house to cover your head but you will have a mansion in heaven a house not made with hands your head may often lie without a pillow but it shall one day wear a crown your hands may be blistered with toil but they shall sweep the strings of golden harps you may often go home to a dinner of vegetables but in heaven you shall eat bread in the kingdom of God and sit down at the marriage supper of the lamb the way may be rough but it cannot be long we will smooth it with hope and cheer it with song yet in a little while the painful conflict will be over courage my friends courage glittering robes are prepared for conquerors courage my brothers and sisters courage you may soon become richer than you have ever dreamed of perhaps even now even today there is only one more step between you and your inheritance you may go home perhaps shivering in the cold March wind but before morning Dawn's you may be in your master's arms be content with your circumstances then be content with them do not let the child of a king who has a glorious estate beyond the Stars murmur like others you are not so poor after all as they who have no hope though you seem poor you are rich do not let your poor neighbors see you dejected but let them see you in that holy calmness that sweet resignation that gracious submission which makes the poor man more glorious than he that wears a crown and lifts the Sun of the soil up from his rustic habitation and sets him among the princes of the royal family in heaven be happy brothers and sisters be satisfied and content God wants you to learn to be content whatever the circumstances and now just one or two words to those who are suffering in sickness one or two words to the sufferers all men are born to sorrow but some men are born to a double portion of it just as it is among trees so it is among men there are different classes the cypress tree seems to have been created especially to stand in the graveyard and be a weeper and there are some men and some women that seemed to have been created specifically to weep they are the Jeremias of our race for they seldom know an hour free from pain their poor weary bodies have dragged along through a miserable life diseased perhaps even from their birth suffering some serious medical condition that will not even let them know the fun or the play of youth they grow up to grief and each year suffering drives its plow deeper into their brows and they are apt and who can blame them they are apt to murmur and they say why am i this way I cannot enjoy the pleasures of life as others can why is it this way oh says some poor sister tuberculosis has overtaken me that destructive disease has washed out the color of my cheeks why should I have come to church scarcely able to breathe and after sitting here exhausted with the heat of this crowded sanctuary only to return to my home and prepare to engage in daily labour much too heavy for me my very bed does not give me any rest and my nights are filled with terrifying dreams why is this I say if these brothers and sisters mourn we are not the men to blame them because when we are sick we don't accept it well and we murmur more than they I do admire patience because I feel myself so incapable of it when I see a man suffering and suffering bravely I often feel small in his presence I wonder yes I admire and love the man who can bear pain and say so little about it when we who are naturally healthy and strong do suffer we can hardly endure it Caesar wins like a sick girl and so do some of the strongest when they are brought down while those who are always enduring suffering Barratt like heroes martyrs to pain and yet not uttering a complaint there was the godly man John Calvin all his life long a victim of sickness he was a collection of diseases his features when he was a young man as may be clearly judged from the different portraits we have of him exhibited the signs of decay and though he lived a long life he seemed as if he was always going to die tomorrow in the deepest of his agony suffering from severe spinal pains and acute disease the only cry he was ever known to utter was this how long O Lord how long O Lord he never used a more prep for expression than that hole but we kick against the thorn in our flesh murmuring and complaining brothers and sisters the exhortation to you is to be content your pains are sharp yet his strokes are fewer than your crimes and lighter than your guilt Christ has delivered you from the pains of hell why should you complain as long as you are out of hell that gratitude be mingled with your groans besides remember that all these sufferings are less than his sufferings remember that all of your sufferings are less than his sufferings could you not keep watch with your Lord for one hour he hangs on the cross with the world's miseries in his heart can't you bear these lesser miseries that fall on you remember that all these chase means work for your good they are making you ready every stroke of your father's rod is bringing you nearer to perfection the flame does not hurt you it only replies you and takes away your imperfections remember too that your pain and sickness have been so greatly blessed to you already that you ought never to rebell before I was afflicted I went astray but now I obey your word you have seen more of heaven through your sickness than you ever could have seen if you had been well when we are well we are like men in a clay hut we cannot see much light but when disease comes and shakes the hut and shadows the mud and makes openings in the walls and there in the newly formed crevices the sunlight of heaven shines through sick men can see a great deal more of glory than men do when they are in help this hard heart of ours when it is undisturbed becomes more evil when the strings of our harp are all unstrung they make better music than when they are tightly wound there are some heaven notes that never come to us except when we are shut up in the darkened rooms of sickness and pain grapes must be pressed before the wine can be distilled it is necessary to be put into the furnace of affliction to make us useful in the world we would not be very useful in the father's hands if we did not sometimes get sick perhaps you that are frequently tried and frequently pained would have been scarcely worth anything in the vineyard of Christ if it had not been for this trial of your faith you have been rubbed hard with a master's sharpest file and if you had not been well filed you would not have been an instrument fit for the Masters use you would have grown rusty he had kept you always free from suffering you would have been often lacking those sweet stimulants which is the physician of souls administers to his fainting patients be content then be content but I feel as if I am not really qualified to say it because today I am not sick when I came to you once directly from my bedroom of suffering pale and thin and sick I remember addressing you from that text quote you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials end quote on that day I think I might justifiably have said to you be content whatever the circumstances but now that I am NOT suffering myself I do not feel as if I can say it so boldly as I could then but nevertheless brothers and sisters try if you can and imitate this beloved Apostle Paul who said I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances before I dismiss you there is one other sentence you that do not love Christ remember that you are the most miserable people in the world though you may think you are happy there is not one of us that would change places with the best of you when we are very sick very poor and on the very edge of the grave if you were to step in and say to us come I will change places with you you shall have my gold and my silver my riches and my health yet there is not one living Christian that would change places with you we would not stop to deliberate at once we would give you our answer no go on your way and delight in what you have but all your treasures are transient they will soon pass away we will keep our sufferings and you shall keep your extravagant toys all my brothers and sisters Saints have no hell except what they suffer here on earth sinners will have no heaven except what they have here in this poor troublesome world we have our sufferings here and our glory afterwards you without Christ may have your glory here but you will have your sufferings for ever and ever may God grant you new hearts and right spirits a living faith in a living Jesus and then I would say to you as I have said to the rest be content whatever the circumstances amen whatever the circumstances amen

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