Forlorn

  ‘But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.’ Psalm 37:39.

‘You are in a terrible condition just now. Everything has been going wrong. You do not know what to do. But “the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.” He will bring you through. You are in good hands. The Great Pilot knows the navigation of the river of life better than you do. You cannot see a channel for your boat — there there are snags everywhere, or quicksand, or rocks, or shallows. He knows all about them. Rest. Trust. Wait. Commit your way unto the Lord. There is personal comfort in the fact that our salvation is of the Lord. And there is comfort, next, with regard to all our tried Brothers and Sisters. It is my lot — my happy or unhappy lot — to be continually consulted by Brothers and Sisters in great trouble. They think I can help them, though I cannot. I hardly know what to say to them. I can only take their burden with my own unto the Lord. I often feel great pain in sympathizing with trials which I cannot remove, but then it is cheering to know that the Lord can help where we cannot, for “the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.” He can help the helpless, the forlorn, the impoverished, the dying. He will bring His people safely through floods and fires. Their straits are very great and their burdens very heavy, but the Lord will put underneath them the everlasting arms. Pray for them; sympathize with them; help them as far as you can and then, when you cast yourself on your Lord, cast them, also!’

Charles Spurgeon, “AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON. ON A THURSDAY EVENING,” Spurgeon’s Sermons Volume 33: 1887

Charles Spurgeon was a 19th century English preacher, of the “particular Baptist” persuasion. He is regarded as one of the greatest preachers of all time. I stumbled across this quote long after I had started this project, but I believe it perfectly nails down what I was trying to do. There are a number of wonderful things about this quote. First of all it admits a complete powerlessness and feeling of being overwhelmed by all the troubles around us. Secondly, Spurgeon admits no special magical wisdom or knowledge of what to say — he says he doesn’t know what to say. But I love the plan of action laid out here:

  • 1) Pray for these people in times of suffering.
  • 2) Sympathize with them. This doesn’t take any special temporal resources or even spiritual skill. Just sympathize. Oh, how the world could do with a bit more sympathy now!
  • 3) Help where you can. Spurgeon doesn’t demand that you tie every loose shoelace in the world, just help where you can.
  • 4) Finally, in what I believe to be an appropriate kind of despair: Cast yourself and them on the Lord. Just let him take care of it. I would also assert that “casting” someone on the Lord is one of the more compassionate things you can do. It is not indifference. It even brings to my mind a metaphor of throwing someone with great effort onto a stage or a hospital bed or a courtroom.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, we are ofttimes overwhelmed by the forlorned people we meet. We know that we cannot fix everyone’s problems. But help us to follow this example: Pray for the suffering. Sympathize with their plights. Show us how to help and give us the means and strength to do so. And finally, we cast ourselves and all our suffering family members, friends, acquaintances, and people on our hearts on you, O Lord. Give an immediate and temporal meaning to the phrase, “Salvation is from the Lord.”! AMEN.

               

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