If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan? ~ Jeremiah 12:5
Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. ~ Psalm 36:5, Lamentations 3:23
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. ~ Daniel 3:17, Psalm 124:7
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. ~ Jeremiah 29:11
Comfort for the Tempted, by Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892).
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13
The children of God are all subject to temptation; some of them are tempted more than others, but I am persuaded that there is not one, except those who are too young to be conscious of evil, who will enter heaven without having endured some temptation. If any one could have escaped, surely it would have been “the firstborn among many brethren—Our Lord Jesus Christ;” but you will remember how he was led by the Holy Spirit, straight from the waters of his baptism, into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil; and the Apostle Paul informs us that Christ “who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” [Hebrews 4:15]. Truly, the Lord Jesus might say to us who are his followers, “If I, your Master and Lord, have been tempted, you must not expect to escape temptation; for the disciple is not above his Master, nor the servant above his Lord.”
The fact that we are tempted ought to humble us, for it is sad evidence that there is sin still remaining in us. I believe that the devil is no fool, and that, if there is a man or a woman who cannot be tempted—that is, they have no corruption in their nature—depend on it, Satan will not waste much of his time trying to tempt them. He does not waste his time in such a useless exercise. The person who believes that they are perfect can never pray the Lord’s prayer; they must offer one of their own making, for they will never be willing to say, “Lead me not into temptation;” but, beloved, because the devil thinks it’s worth his time to tempt us, we may conclude that there is something in us that is temptable—that sin still dwells there, in spite of the fact that the grace of God has renewed our hearts.
The fact that we are tempted ought also to remind us of our weakness. I just referred to the model prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ, which contains the sentence, “Lead us not into temptation,” The reason for giving us that example prayer must be, because we are so weak and frail. We plead that we may not be tempted by sin in any of its enticing forms, because often times, the flesh is encouraged to exert itself by the world and by the devil, and these allied powers will be too much for us unless the omnipotence of God is exerted on our behalf to keep us from falling into sin.
Some children of God, whom I know of, are greatly troubled, because they are tempted. They think they could bear trial if it were a trial dissociated from sin, though I don’t see how we can, as a general rule, separate trial from temptation, for every trial that comes to us has in it some kind of temptation, either to unbelief, or to murmuring, or to the use of wrong means to escape from the trial. We are tempted by our mercies, and we are tempted by our miseries; that is, tempted in the sense of being tried by them; but, to the child of God, the most grievous thing is that, sometimes, they are tempted to do or say things which they utterly hate. They have set before them, in a pleasurable way, sins which are detestable to them; they cannot bear the very name of them. Yet Satan and the evil ones come along, and place before the child of God the forbidden fruits which they will never touch; and I have known the devil to tempt the people of God by injecting into their mind blasphemous thoughts, hurling them into their ear like a hurricane. Yes, even when you are in prayer, it may happen to you that thoughts the very opposite of devotion to God will come swarming into your brain. A little noise in the street will distract you from communion with God; and, almost before you are aware of it, your thoughts, like wild horses, will have gone galloping over the hill and you hardly know how you will ever catch them again.
Now, such temptations as these are dreadfully painful to a child of God. He cannot bear the poisoned breath of sin; and when he finds that sin knocking at his door, shouting under his window, pestering him day and night, as it has occurred with some—I hope not with many—then he is totally overwhelmed, and he is critically troubled.
It may help such a person if I remind them that there is no sin in being tempted. The sin is that of the tempter, not of the tempted. If you resist the temptation, there is something praiseworthy about your action. There is nothing praiseworthy about the temptation; that is evil, and only evil; but you did not tempt yourself, and he that tempted you must bear the blame of the temptation. You are obviously not responsible for thoughts that grieve you; they may prove that there is still sin remaining in you, but there is no sin in your being tempted. The sin is in your yielding to the temptation, and you will be blessed if you can stand up under it. If you can overcome it, if your spirit does not yield to it, you will even be blessed through it. “Blessed is the man that endures temptation.” There is blessedness even in the temptation, and though for the present it seems not to be joyous, but grievous, nevertheless, afterward, it yields blessed fruit to those who resist the temptation.
Furthermore, there are worse things in this world than being tempted with painful temptations. It is much worse to be tempted with a pleasant temptation—to be gently sucked down into the destroyer’s mouth—to be carried along the smooth current, afterwards to be hurled over the waterfall. This is dreadful; but to fight against temptation—this is good. I say again that there are many worse things than to be tried with a temptation that arouses all the indignation of your spirit. An old preacher used to say that he was more afraid of a sleeping devil than he was of a roaring one, and there is much truth in that observation; for, when you are left all alone, and no temptation seizes you, you are apt to get carnally secure, and boastfully to say, “I will never be moved.” I think no one is in such imminent danger as the person who thinks that there is nothing dangerous likely to happen to him, so that anything that keeps us watchful, even though it is itself evil, is overruled for good. The most dangerous part of the road to heaven is not the Valley of the Shadow of Death; In Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, we find “Christian” going through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, but we don’t find that “Christian” slept there when the demon like creatures were all around him, and also when he found it hard to see the path, and stay on it; but when he and Hopeful came to the Enchanted Ground, “whose air naturally tended to make one drowsy,” then were the pilgrims in great peril until Christian reminded his fellow-traveler that they were warned by the shepherds not to sleep when they came to that treacherous part of the way. I think, then, that to be tempted with painful temptations, those that goad the spirit almost to madness—bad as that trial is—may be, spiritually, not the worst thing that can possibly happen to us. Don’t be driven to despair if it you are tempted like the many other Christians who have gone before you.
This will suffice by way of preface to a little talk about temptation, with a view of encouraging any who are truly tempted by Satan and the evil ones. I know that I am speaking to many who have and are being tempted, and I repeat to them the words of my text: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” Remember, my dear tempted friend that you must not sit down in despair, and say, “I am greatly tempted now, and I am afraid that I will be tempted worse and worse, until my feet will slide, and I will fall and utterly perish.” Don’t say as David did when he had been hunted like an animal on the mountains, “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul” [1 Samuel 27:1]; but believe that the Lord, who permits you to be tempted, will deliver you in his own perfect timing.
I. Here is your first comfort. There has been a limit in all your former temptations: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.”
Temptation has sometimes seized you, like a strangler grabs a man by the throat, all of a sudden. It has seized you—that is the best word I can use—temptation has seized you, unsuspecting, strangled you, and seemed to hold you with a tight grip; and yet, up until now, the temptations you have had to endure, have only been what is common to man.
1. First, they are the same that have been endured by your fellow-Christians.
I know that you are tempted to think that you are a lone traveler on a road that no one has ever traveled before you; but if you carefully examine the tracks, you can discover the footprints of some of the best of God’s servants who have passed along that wearisome way. It is a very dark lane, you say—one that might truly be called, “Cut-throat Lane.” Ah. but you will find that apostles have traveled along that way, humble Christians have been that way, martyrs have been that way, and the best of God’s saints have been tempted just as you now are. “Oh, but.” one says, “I am tempted, as you said a little while ago, with blasphemous and horrible thoughts.” So was John Bunyan; read his Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, and see what he had to pass through. Many others have had a similar experience, and among them are some of us who are alive to tell you that we know all about this special form of temptation, yet the Lord delivered us out of it. “Oh, but.” says another tried soul, “I have been even tempted to self-destruction.” That also has not been an unusual temptation even to God’s dearest saints; and, though he has preserved them, and kept them alive, yet they have often felt like Job when he said, “I prefer strangling and death, rather than this body of mine” [Job 7:15]. “Ah.” cries another, “I am tempted to commit the very worst sins, the foulest sins, I won’t even dare to mention to you the abominations Satan tempts me to commit.” You needn’t tell me; and I trust that you will be kept from them by the almighty power of God’s Holy Spirit; but I can assure you that even the saints in heaven, if they could speak to you at this moment, would tell you that some of them were overwhelmed—even some of the bravest of them who walked nearest to God were greatly overwhelmed by temptations which they wouldn’t have revealed to any one else, so troubled were they by them. Perhaps yet another friend says, “I have been actually tempted to self-righteousness, which is as great a temptation as can befall a Christian whose whole confidence is in Christ.” Well, so was John Knox, that grand preacher of justification by faith. When he lay dying, he was tempted to glory in his own bravery for Christ, but he fought against that evil thought, and overcame it, and so may you.
You think that when a man is very patient, he is not tempted to impatience. My Brothers and Sisters, the Spirit of God says, by the pen of the apostle James, “You have heard of the patience of Job.” I suggest to you this question—haven’t you heard of the impatience of Job? You have heard, no doubt, of the strong faith of Peter; have you never heard of Peter’s unbelief? God’s people usually fail at the very point for which they are most famous; and the man who has the greatest renown for any work of the Spirit of God in him, so far as the Bible biographies are concerned, has usually been the man who has experienced failure just at the place where he thought he was the strongest. You say to me, “I have been reading the life of a good man, and I am not like him.” Shall I tell you why? Because all the details of his life were not written; but when the Holy Spirit writes a man’s life, he gives it all. When biographers write the lives of good men, of course they do not put down their inward struggles and fears, unless the subject happens to be a man like Martin Luther, whose whole life seemed to be an inward struggle, and who, while he was brave on the outside, was often trembling within. When they write of my life, they will tell you that I had strong faith; but they will not tell you about the other side of it. And then you will, perhaps, think, “Oh, I cannot even come close to such a height as Mr. Spurgeon attained.” That all comes of your not knowing the inside of us, for if you knew the inside and the outside of the man who walks nearest to God—if he is a sincere, truehearted man, he will tell you that the temptations you have to endure are the very same temptations as he has had, and as he expects to have again and again, and that, just as the apostle said, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.”
2. Then, again, no temptation has seized you except what is common for men and women to be tested with while they are in this state of trial and testing.
This is not the time for the final victory; this is the hour of battle, and the weapons that are used against us are exactly the same as have been employed against the armies of the faithful in all ages. You and I were never tempted as the holy angels were those who resisted and overcame the temptation. I can’t tell you how the prince of darkness was tempted, or how he went about tempting his fellow-servants from their loyalty to the great King; but I am sure of this, you were never tested with a temptation suitable to an angel. Your temptation has only been what is common to mankind and the same as other men and women like yourself have overcome. Others have fought valiantly against similar temptations as yours, and you must do the same, yes, and you will do the same by the power of God’s Spirit resting in you. It is said, in the affairs of common life, that what man has done man can do, and that is true with regard to the spiritual life. Temptations that have been grappled with by other men and women can be grappled with by you if you seek the same source of strength, and seek it in the same name as they did. The strength to overcome temptation comes from God alone, and the conquering name is the name of Jesus Christ; therefore, go forward in that strength and in that name against all your temptations. Go fight against them, for they have been routed long before, and you will rout them again. Don’t be afraid to go from fight to fight and from victory to victory, even like the others did who have gone before you, and who have now entered into their rest. If you ask them where their victory came from, they ascribe it to the resources which are as open to you as they were to them—the mighty working of God the Holy Spirit and the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every temptation that has happened to you is the kind that human beings can grapple with and overcome by the help of God.
3. Again, no temptation has seized you except what is common to man in this sense—that Christ has endured it.
That great Head of manhood, that representative Man, has suffered from the very temptation which is now pestering you. “In all their distress”—that is, the distresses of his people in the wilderness, which is just the same as yours if you are in the wilderness—“In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them” [Isaiah 63:9]. He was surrounded with trials and temptations, “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.” To repeat the text I have already quoted, and which is so suitable here, he was “tempted in every way, just as we are” [Hebrews 4:15]
“He had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” [Hebrews 2:17-18]. He knows all about the temptations that each one of us face, and he knows how to deal with them, and how to help us stand up under them.
So you see, dear friends, no temptation has seized you except what is common to man in the sense of having been endured by men and women like yourselves, having been overcome by men and women exactly like you, and having been endured and defeated by your blessed Representative, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Come, then, beloved, let all mystery with regard to your temptations be banished. Mystery puts an edge on the sword of trial; perhaps the hand that wrote on the wall would not have frightened Belshazzar if he could have seen the body to which that hand belonged. There is no mystery about your trouble, after all. Though you did write it down as being bigger than any that ever happened to a human being before, that is not the truth; you are not an emperor in the realm of misery. You cannot truly say, “I am the man that has seen affliction and temptation above all others,” for your Lord endured far more than you ever have, and many of his saints, who passed from the stake to the crown, must have suffered much more than you have been called to undergo thus far.
II. Now let us turn to the second comfort revealed in our text; that is, the Faithfulness of God: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man: but God is faithful.”
1. Oh, what a blessed word this is, “God is faithful.” Therefore, He is true to his promise.
Even Balaam said, “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” [Numbers 23:19]. One of God’s promises is, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you;” “God is faithful,” so he will fulfill that promise. Here is one of the promises of Christ, and Christ is God: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand” [John 10:27-28].
“God is faithful,” so that promise will be fulfilled. You have often heard this promise, “Your strength will equal your days” [Deuteronomy 33:25]. Do you believe that, or will you make God a liar? If you do believe it, then banish from your mind all fearful thoughts with this blessed little sentence, “God is faithful.”
Notice, next, that not only is God faithful, but He is master of the situation, so that he can keep his promise.
Note what the text says: “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” Therefore you could not have been tempted if God had not allowed it to happen to you. God is sovereign over Satan. The devil could not touch Job except by divine permission, neither can he tempt you except as God allows him; he must have permission from the King of kings before he can tempt a single saint. Why, Satan is not allowed to keep the key of his own house, for the keys of death and of hell hang on the golden belt of Christ; and without God’s permission, the dog of hell cannot even open his mouth to bark at a child of God, much less can he come and worry any of the sheep whom the Lord has called by his grace into his fold. So, then, beloved, you have great cause for comfort from the fact that the temptation that tries you is still under the control of the faithful Creator, “will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.”
That is a second reason for comfort; roll it under your tongue as a sweet morsel.
III. The third comfort lies in the restraint which God puts on temptation. “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” The tide of temptation will rise to the high-water mark, and then God will say, “This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt” [Job 38:11].
“He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” That may apply, sometimes, tothe period of time when the temptation comes.
I have carefully watched how God times the trials of his people. If such-and-such a trial had come to one of his children when he was young, I believe he could not have endured it; or if he had lost some dear friend while he himself was sick, the double trouble would have crushed him. But God sends our trials at the right time; and if he puts an extra burden on in one way, he takes something off in another. It is a very simple thing to say, but it is true; if the wind blows from the North, it does not at the same time blow from the South; and if one set of troubles comes to a Christian, another set of troubles generally departs from them. John Bradford, the famous martyr, was often subject to rheumatism and depression of spirit, in which I can greatly sympathize with him; but when he was condemned to a foul damp dungeon, and knew that he would never come out except to die, he wrote, “It is an extraordinary thing that, ever since I have been in this prison, and have had other trials to bear, I have had no touch of my rheumatism or my depression of spirit.” Wasn’t that a very blessed thing? And you will usually find that it is so; you will not be tempted above what you are able to bear, because God will permit the trial to come at a time when you are best able to stand up under it.
2. There is also great kindness on God’s part in the continuance of a trial.
If some of our trials lasted much longer, they would be too heavy for us to bear. Concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, our Lord said, “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened” [Matthew 24:22]. And I have no doubt that, often times, God makes quick work of his children’s trials because, if they were continued longer, they wouldn’t have a good, but rather an evil effect on us. If a child must be spanked, then don’t let the punishment continue as if they were a criminal who must be sentenced for a long period; let them have their discipline, and then be done with it. So is it often in the discipline of God’s house; and yet there are other trials which are protracted year after year because trial is an ingredient in their effectiveness, and they might not be blessed to us if they were shortened. In every case, there is an infinite wisdom which makes our troubles to be just as long as they are, and no longer. Likewise, there is infinite wisdom in the number of the trials. Blessed be God— If he ordains that there will be ten trials, then there can never be eleven.
If he intends his servants to pass through the fire, and not through the water, Satan himself cannot make them go through the water. God counts the drops of bitter tonic that he administers to his ailing saints, and not a drop more will they possibly have than he measures out to them. So, dear tried children of God, you will not be tempted above what you are able to bear so far as the number of your temptations and trials are concerned.
3. It is the same, also, in the stress with which the temptation comes.
Have you ever seen a great tree in the full blast of a tremendous storm? It sways back and forth, and seems scarcely able to recover itself from the powerful blows of the storm; yet the roots hold it secure. But now comes a tornado; and it seems as if the tree must be torn up out of the earth; but the strain ceases just in time for the old oak to rock back into its place again; yet, if there were a pound or two more force in that tremendous blast, the tree would be laid prone on the grass; Likewise, God, with His people’s trials and temptations, stops at just the right point. You may be tempted until you don’t have an ounce of strength left. Sometimes, the Lord tests his people until it seems as if one more breath from him would surely cause them to sink. It is then that He puts His everlasting arms under them, and no further trial is laid on them. This is a blessed thing, for all of you have troubles of one sort or another, and you who are the people of God may take this text, and, rely implicitly on it: “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.”
Now, as for you who are not his people, I am very sorry for you. I am holding up these precious things, but they are not for you. God’s Word declares, “Many are the woes of the wicked” [Psalm 32:10]. If you have no God to flee to, what will you do when the storms beat upon your ship? To whom or where can you flee? As for the Christian, he can sing—
Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to your bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide,
Till the storm of life is past
Safe into the haven guide;
Oh receive my soul at last.
But, poor dear souls who don’t love Christ, where can you find comfort in your seasons of sorrow and trial? You who have lost wife and children—you who are pinched with poverty—you who are racked with sickness, and yet have no Savior, what can you do? Poor homeless people in a snowstorm—what can they do without even a bush to shelter them? That is just your state, and I grieve for you, and plead with you not to remain in such a pitiful condition even a moment longer.
Come, guilty souls, and flee away
Like doves to Jesus’ wounds;
This is the welcome gospel-day,
Where free grace abounds.
Oh, that your sense of need might drive you to accept Christ as your Savior this very hour.
As for his believing people, there is this solid comfort for them; they will never be tempted beyond what they can bear.
IV. The next comfort we gather from our text relates to the provision which the Lord makes for the tempted: “God is faithful, who . . . when you are tempted, will also provide a way out.”
The Greek has it, “who will with the temptation also make the way to escape.”
There is a proper way to escape from a temptation.
There are twenty improper ways; and woe to the man or woman who makes use of any one of them; but there is only one proper way out of a trial, and that is the direct way, the way that God has made for his people to travel. God has made through all trials the way by which his servants may precisely come out of them. When the brave young Jews were tried by Nebuchadnezzar, there was one way by which they might have been kept out of the burning fiery furnace. They had only to bow their knees before the great image when the flute, harp, and pipes sounded; but that way of escape would never have worked, for it was not the right one. The way for them was to be thrown down into the furnace, and there to have the Son of God walking with them in the midst of the fire that could not hurt them. In like manner, whenever you are exposed to any trial, be careful that you do not try to escape from it in any wrong way.
2. Notice especially that the right way is always of God’s making; therefore, any of you who are now exposed to temptation or trial, don’t have to make your own way of escape out of it.
God, and God alone, has to make it for you, so don’t attempt to make it for yourselves. I knew a man who was in trouble because he was short of money; and the way he made for himself was to use somebody else’s money, with which he had been entrusted, clearly that was not God’s way of escape for him, so he only plunged himself into a worse trial than he was in before. I have known a man of business in great trouble, and things were going wrong with him, so he speculated, and gambled, and ruined, both his business and his personal character. That was not God’s way for him to escape from his troubles. Sometimes, the best thing a person in trouble can do, is to do nothing at all, but to leave everything in the hands of God. “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” When the Israelites came out of Egypt, God led them in a way, which the wisdom of men would have objected to; there was nothing in front of them but the sea, and behind them came Pharaoh in all his rage, crying out, “I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust will be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand will destroy them.” Now, then, what was God’s way of escape for them? Right through the Red Sea, and on the other side they sang, while the Egyptians were drowned, “Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea” [Exodus 15:21]. It would have been a great pity if they had tried to escape by any way of their own, or had attempted to turn around, and fight Pharaoh; that would not have done at all, but the Lord made for his people the very best way of escape that could possibly have been devised.
3. Notice, also, that the Lord makes the way of escape “with the temptation.”
He allowed the trial to come, and at the same time he made the way of escape from it. God has planned it all, how you, his champion, will go forth, and fight courageously in his strength; and how he will be your shield and your very great reward. He will lead you into the dangerous desert; but then he can see the way out of it as well as the way into it, and he will take you safely through. Didn’t the psalmist sing, “To him who led his people through the desert, His love endures forever” [Psalm 136:16]. He not only led them into the desert, but he led them through it, blessed be his holy name. And if he has brought you into the wilderness of trouble and affliction, he made the way out of it at the same time that he made the trouble. “Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes” [Psalm 37:3-7] “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [that you need] will be given to you as well” [Matthew 6:33]. Stay away from the sin of the temptation, and you needn’t fear the sorrow of the temptation. If the temptations don’t drive you to your own schemes and solutions, but rather drive you to your knees, then they will, in the end, be blessings to you.
That is the fourth comfort, that God has made the way of escape for his people out of their trials. “Well, then,” someone says, “I will escape from this trial.” Wait a moment, my friend, and listen to the closing words of the text, with which I will conclude my sermon.
V. This is the last point of comfort, the support which God supplies in the temptation: “so that you can stand up under it.”
God’s way of escape from temptation is not for his people to avoid it, so as not to pass through it, but an escape that leads them through the trial, and out at the other end; not an escape from the Red Sea, but an escape through the Red Sea, from a still greater trial. If you, beloved, are exposed to trial or temptation, you are guaranteed that you can stand up under it. Now, pray, before you leave this building, that this last word, on which I don’t have much time to elaborate, may be fulfilled in your experience: “That you can stand up under it.”
Suppose you are to be poor. Well, if God has so appointed it, you will be poor; therefore, pray that you may be able to stand up under it. With honest hard work and stern integrity struggle to attain to a better position; but, if all your efforts fail, then say to the Lord, “Yet, not as I will, but as you will.” Perhaps your dear child is dying, or your wife is very sick; you dread the thought of losing them, and you would willingly give your life, if you could, for them. Well, do all you can for their recovery, and any money spent to save them will be well spent; but, if health is not to be granted to them, pray that you may be able to stand up under that heavy trial. It is wonderful how God does help his people to stand up under their troubles which they thought would crush them. I have seen poor feeble women, that I thought would die under their bereavement, become brave and strong; and men, who were faint-hearted in the prospect of trouble, have nevertheless blessed the Lord for it when the blow has actually fallen; and you may do the same.
Suppose you are to be sick. Well, that is a painful trial, and I know that, personally, I would do anything I could to escape from the affliction that often besets me; but if it must not be, then I must change my prayer, and pray that I may be able to stand up under it.
Recently, I received a letter from a man of God, which encouraged me greatly. He says, “My dear brother, I was sorry to hear that you were again in pain, and depressed in spirit, and so forth; but, as I remembered how God had blessed you in so many ways, I thought to myself, ‘Perhaps Mr. Spurgeon would not have kept preaching the doctrines of grace, and would not have been so able to comfort God’s poor people, if he did not experience these painful trials.’ So,” he said, “I congratulate you on these trials;” and I accepted the congratulation. Won’t you do the same, my afflicted brother or sister? Pray, “Lord, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me;” but, if it must not, then here comes that other form of comfort, then I pray “that I may be able to stand up under it.”
And remember, dear friends, while I tell you to make this passage into a prayer, it is really a promise; and there is no prayer like a promise that is turned, as it were, around, and made into a prayer. God himself has said, by his inspired apostle, that he “will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” Up with the banners, then. Forward, whatever obstructs the way. Let us sing, with good old preacher John Ryland—
Through floods and flames, if Jesus lead,
I’ll follow where he goes;
‘Do not hinder me,’ will be my cry,
Though earth and hell oppose.
The immortal life within us can never be destroyed; the divine nature, which God the Holy Spirit has implanted, will never be trampled under foot. “Do not gloat over me, my enemy. Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light” [Micah 7:8].
But, oh, I am so sorry, so sorry, and so sorry, I am so sorry, from the bottom of my soul, for you who do not know the Lord, for this comfort is not for you. Seek him, I pray you; seek him as your Savior. Look to him, and trust in him; and then all the blessings of the everlasting covenant will be yours, for the Father has given him to be a Leader and Commander to the people, and they that look to him, and follow him, will live forever and ever. God bless you, for Christ’s sake. Amen.