To Be a Christian is to Suffer

From 19th century Presbyterian William Plumer’s commentary on Psalm 34:19:

“The Christian religion is the only form of doctrine on earth that candidly admits the full extent of human woe; and at the same time makes adequate provision for the support of the pious sufferer, and for his full and final deliverance from all that can harass the mind. ‘Through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God.’ Tholuck says, ‘Were the pious freed from every trouble and affliction, motives to piety would become impure, faith would grow faint, prayer cease, and carnal security abound.’ Afflictions are proofs of love. ‘Stripes are the mark of sonship.’ All our troubles are as nothing compared with what we deserve, with what the righteous of other days have suffered, with what our Savior suffered, with the grace granted to sustain us, or with the everlasting bliss that awaits us. So though Paul, II Cor. 4:17.”

Another 19th century Presbyterian pastor writes eloquently about pain, and some of you can especially relate: “I have often thought I could write a natural history of pain. I have known her from childhood. We have walked arm in arm, dwelt in the same house, been occupants of the same bed. She is, like the chameleon, of every hue, and, like Proteus, of every shape. She is sometimes as quick as light, and again like an Alexandrian line, ‘drags her slow length along.’ Sometimes he is as the forked lightning, coursing in tortuous torture through every limb and fiber of the body, and dissolving the pent-up and collected clouds of bitterness into flooding tears; and sometimes she is that lightning in its playful flashes, just enough to rouse the attention and excite the fancy. Sometimes she languishes into the faint tones of an infant talking in its sleep, or like the bubbling groan of some strong swimmer in his agony, or like a strong man in the whirlwind of passion, she puts on an angel’s might, and mystery of power” (Thomas Smyth, pastor in Charleston, SC).



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