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A Man of Weakness Empowered by the God of Strength

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) was known as the “Prince of Preachers,” having preached to over 10 million people in his lifetime. He preached at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London for 38 years, was a prolific author of numerous works including sermons, an autobiography, commentaries, books on prayer, devotionals, magazines, poetry, hymns and more. His oratory skills were unparalleled as he held listeners spellbound with his penetrating thought and exposition.


With such accolades and accomplishments, one would think that Spurgeon “had it all together” and was never troubled by the trials and battles that beset the common man or woman. But this was not the case. Spurgeon was known to struggle with depression for many years and spoke of being overcome by tears for no reason known to himself. He suffered ill health toward the end of his life through an affliction of rheumatism, gout and Bright’s disease. His wife, also, endured ill health through much of their married life and was often unable to leave home to hear him preach.


If you ever feel that you are too ill, too weak, too intrepid, or simply too “human” to accomplish much for the glory of God, remember Spurgeon. God used this diminutive man with affliction and weakness to become a monumental proclaimer of biblical truth. If ever another human could speak the words of the Apostle Paul, it was Spurgeon: “But [Jesus] said to me, `My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).


When you feel lonely, tired, or weak, remember these words from the Prince of Preachers who was a man of weakness empowered by the God of strength.


“Quiet!” my fears. This is just a narrow span, and it will soon pass. “Quiet, quiet!” my doubts. Death is only a narrow stream, and it will soon be forded. Time, how short; eternity, how long! Death, how brief; immortality, how endless! Even now I think I am eating Eshcol’s grapes and sipping from the well inside the gate (Deuteronomy 1:24-25). The road is short. I will soon be there:


When the world my heart is rending


With its heaviest storm of care,


My glad thoughts to heaven ascending.


Find a refuge from despair.


Faith’s bright vision shall sustain me


Till life’s pilgrimage is past;


Fears may vex and trouble pain me,


I shall reach my home at last.


(Spurgeon, Morning and Evening)


 

Rejoice because of the One who is with us

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).


When I was in college, I sang in the Concert Choir that traveled to churches around the country back in the days when Christian colleges could afford that kind of thing. I don’t remember very many of the songs we sang, but one keeps coming to mind from time to time based on Psalm 118:24. I didn’t think much about the words when we sang it, but I sure think a lot about those words the older I get.


Typically, if I wake up in a good mood, the sun is shining and all seems right with the world, I say, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!” But if I wake up in a bad mood, the sky is gray, and nothing seems right with the world, Psalm 118:24 isn’t the first thing that pops into my mind. As I’m getting ready for work, my mind is focused on the negative and what I perceive to be the drudgery of just getting through the day.


This is why the context for Psalm 118:24 is so amazing. The psalmist begins with an expression of gratitude for the goodness of God and His enduring steadfast love. He invites others to join in the celebration—Israel, the house of Aaron, and, to make sure no one is excluded, let everyone who fears the Lord participate in the celebration of God’s goodness and steadfast love (vv. 2-4).


But then the focus shifts from what we tend to think as being causes for gratitude and celebration to causes of ingratitude and depression. The psalmist describes moments of “distress” (v. 5), opportunities for fear (v. 6), and the awareness of those who hate (v. 7). He gives account of how the nations surrounded him (v. 10) on every side (v. 11), like a swarm of bees (v. 12), where he was pushed so hard he was falling (v. 13).


Does this sound like a good day to you? And yet the psalmist responds with joy and gladness (v. 24). He overcomes his fears and struggles because he called on the Lord (v. 5). The Lord was on his side (v. 6). The Lord was his helper (v. 7). The Lord was his refuge (v. 8). The Lord helped him (v. 13). The Lord was his strength, song, and salvation (v. 14). The psalmist was able to rise above his circumstances to see the light in the darkness and trust that the light overcomes.


The same message rings clear today. The reason we can say, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” flows not from the circumstances of the day but from the One who overcomes the day. Our hope rests not in our trials and tribulations but in the One who is brings the victory. “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (v. 23).


Whether you wake up in a good mood or bad, with a sense of refreshment or dread, this is the day the Lord has made. Whether you are facing cancer or have a clean bill of health, this is the day the Lord has made. Whether you are in the midst of a storm or are enjoying a season of calm, this is the day the Lord has made. We rejoice and are glad, not because of what we face each day, but because of the One who is with us. Whatever you are facing, know that the Lord is on your side. So therefore, do not fear, for what can man do to you? (v. 6) “The Lord is God, and He has made His light to shine upon us” (v. 27). Thank You, Father, for shining the light of Your Son, Jesus Christ, into our darkness (John 1:4-5).

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