Evening, August 17, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening
“This sickness is not unto death.” — John 11:4
From our Lord’s words we learn that there is a limit to sickness. Here is an “unto” within which its ultimate end is restrained, and beyond which it cannot go. Lazarus might pass through death, but death was not to be the ultimate end of his sickness. In all sickness, the Lord says to the waves of pain, “This far you may go, but no farther.” His fixed purpose is not the destruction, but the instruction of his people. Wisdom hangs up the thermometer at the furnace mouth, and regulates the heat.
- The limit is encouragingly comprehensive. The God of providence has limited the time, manner, intensity, repetition, and effects of all our sicknesses; each ache is decreed, each sleepless hour predestinated, each relapse ordained, each depression of spirit foreknown, and each sanctifying result eternally purposed. Nothing great or small escapes the ordaining hand of him who numbers the hairs of our head.
- This limit is wisely adjusted to our strength, to the end designed, and to the grace apportioned. Affliction doesn’t come haphazardly–the weight of every stroke of the rod is accurately measured. He who made no mistakes in balancing the clouds and meting out the heavens, commits no errors in measuring out the ingredients which compose the medicine of souls. We cannot suffer too much nor be relieved too late.
- The limit is tenderly appointed. The knife of the heavenly Surgeon never cuts deeper than is absolutely necessary. “He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.” A mother’s heart cries, “Spare my child;” but no mother is more compassionate than our gracious God. When we consider how we resist the reins, it is a wonder that we are not driven with a sharper bit. The thought is full of comfort, that he who has fixed the bounds of our habitation, has also fixed the bounds of our tribulation.
My notes: Spurgeon is not speaking as a Job’s comforter, he is speaking from experience. He was plagued with gout, as painful and disabling a disease as any, often to the point of being bedridden for weeks, and eventually succumbed to the disease. Some may find it interesting that Spurgeon attributes affliction to God, and indeed, doesn’t even address any other possibility…