On Losing My Wife

This post will help you understand why this project got dropped for so long.  I had mentioned in early posts that I began partly because of my wife’s cancer but had never shared the full story.  Amy was diagnosed with colon cancer while pregnant with our third child in April 2011.  The baby was born two months early but he is totally fine – we just celebrated his first birthday at the start of May.  Amy’s cancer was both advanced and aggressive so we knew without a miracle her time was limited.  She did 2 surgeries and 16 rounds of chemo, fighting the whole time to stay with us. 

Amy passed away June 5.  We thank God that she is now free from cancer and all of the suffering that it caused her.  Most of all we thank God that she is free now even from hope itself as all her deepest desires are fulfilled in the presence of Christ.  I want to thank those of you who followed this blog and prayed for us.  Please continue to pray as me and my 3 kids have a lot of loss and many changes to deal with. 

I do not know if I will pick this project up again (I would like to) but wanted at least to provide some closure.  While Amy was still sick I read through “A String Of Pearls” which is an expansion of a sermon that Brooks preached at the funeral of a young mother.  It helped me to prepare to lose my wife which is not something I thought I would need to do this soon.  I am thankful to God for the ministry of Thomas Brooks and how it was used to help me in this.  What follows is an excerpt from “A String Of Pearls” that I have spent a lot of time feeding on.  I also printed it on the back of the bulletin at Amy’s funeral. 

“I could heartily wish that you and all others concerned in this sad loss, were more taken up in minding the happy exchange that she hath made, than with your present loss.  She hath exchanged earth for heaven, a wilderness for a paradise, a prison for a palace, a house made with hands for one eternal in the heavens (II Corinthians 5:1-2).  She hath exchanged imperfection for perfection, sighing for singing, mourning for rejoicing, prayers for praises, the society of sinful mortals for the company of God, Christ, angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect (Hebrews 12:22-24); an imperfect transient enjoyment of God for a more clear, full, perfect, and permanent enjoyment of God.  She hath exchanged pain for ease, sickness for health, a bed of weakness for a bed of spices, and complete blessedness.  She hath exchanged her brass for silver, her counters for gold, and her earthly contentments for heavenly enjoyments.


And as I desire that one of your eyes may be fixed upon her happiness, so I desire that the other of your eyes may be fixed upon Christ’s fullness.  Though your brook be dried up, yet Christ the fountain of light, life, love, grace, glory, comfort, joy, goodness, sweetness, and satisfaction is still at hand, and always full and flowing, yea, overflowing (John 1:16; Colossians 1:19, 2:3).  As the worth and value of many pieces of silver is contracted in one piece of gold, so all the sweetness, all the goodness, all the excellencies that are husbands, wives, children, friends, etc., are contracted in Christ; yea all the whole volume of perfections which is spread through heaven and earth, is epitomised in Christ.  ‘One Christ will be to thee instead of all things else, because in him are all good things to be found’ – says Augustine.”  (I- 401-402)



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Returning Soon…

So I guess the hump I was trying to get over was bigger than I thought.  All appearances to the contrary, Me and Brooks is not dead, just on a longer than expected break.  I am going to work on getting the twitter quotes flowing again first and then get back to reading and posting.  Things will not be exactly as before though.  I do not think I will keep up the Monday/Thursday schedule and “4 Questions With…” will also likely just come as available.  Thanks for sticking around (for any of you who are still around) and I look forward to getting back to it.


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A “4 Questions With…” Copout

Sorry folks.  I have yet to send out another batch of interview requests and so there is no new 4QW today.  However, I would encourage you to take the time you would have spent here to read this article by Joel Beeke.  It is on why we should read the Puritans and gives out some great suggestions to get a start (or maybe a new direction if you are already reading).

Here is the link.


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Getting Over The Hump

The honeymoon is definitely over.  I still believe that this project, both the reading and the blogging, are worthwhile but the original sizzle is unquestionably fizzled.  That I am writing this post is the undeniable proof of the fact.  There are a couple of indicators.  First, while I used to look ahead and start planning out the next number of posts I have found myself scrambling the night before to dig something out.  Second, I bought a little notebook (my first Moleskin) for this and I used to fill up a page with ideas for a post while I now just start typing.  And last, I am just finding the commitment to focus my reading in to one author, post twice a week and also try to do the ‘4 Questions With…’ thing to feel more like a commitment. 


I am not quitting and this is not my ‘rationale for giving up’ post.  This is a post about what it is like to do this project and I thought I would have done more posts like this by now.  One of my goals was to see some other people set out on a similar venture and I want you to know that it is not all ‘woohoo I am joll-ily skipping through my life with a dead author’ or anything like that.

The Me and Brooks project has been a joy to me in a number of different ways.  I have met a handful of new people and enjoyed interacting with them.  I have seen a few new people get exposed to Brooks and the Puritans in general.  I have personally benefited both from reading and writing about Thomas Brooks.  The ‘4 Questions With…’ feature is a blast as well.  I am constantly amazed at the people who have said yes and the unexpected answers that have stopped me in my tracks.  Actually, I think it is probably the best part of the blog (which is a little tough to swallow seeing it is the part that I have the least to do with). 

I can come up with one of the main reasons why I now have the hump to get over.  My wife’s ongoing cancer treatment along with being a dad for three kids five and under mean that life is both busy and heavy.  I have piles (PILES!) of help and my church has really cut me loose to do what is needed for my family but I just find myself weary these days.  As these things go it is much more ebb than flow the past few weeks.  It is tough to summon any mental energy once the kids have all decided to stay in bed (many parents are now nodding their heads knowingly).

But I think the main reason is that I have lost focus.  One of my main goals in starting was to improve my reading habits.  The idea is to get more out of my reading by focusing it in.  What I have found though is that I am often reading Brooks for the sake of the ‘next post’ instead of reading Brooks for the benefit of my own soul.  So today I am going back to two of my first posts (Reading Well 1 and 2) to remind myself of some good advice I sent out that needs to boomerang back.  Here are a few quotes from those:

“They usually thrive best who meditate most.  Meditation is a soul-fattening duty; it is a grace-strengthening duty, it is a duty-crowning duty.  Gerson calls meditation the nurse of prayer; Jerome calls it his paradise; Basil calls it the treasury where all the graces are locked up; Theophylact calls it the very gate and portal by which we enter into glory; and Aristotle, though a heathen, placeth felicity in the contemplation of the mind.  You may read much and hear much, yet without meditation you will never be excellent, you will never be eminent Christians” (I-291). 

“The true reason why many read so much and profit so little is, because they do not apply and bring home what they read to their own souls” (I-292). 

“Read and pray.  He that makes not conscience of praying over what he reads, will find little sweetness or profit in his reading.  No man makes such earning of his reading, as he that prays over what he reads.  Luther professeth that he profited more in the knowledge of the Scripture by prayer, in a short space, than by study in a longer” (I-292). 

Why are you reading what you are reading?  What profit can you actually point to from it?

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4 Questions With…John Reeve

I will start with the disclaimer that this interview is a fraud.  John Reeve is a fantastic resource on Thomas Brooks and doing a ‘4QW’ with him is about the best we could possibly do to find an expert on Brooks.  However, John Reeve has been dead for about 300 years.  The only thing I know about him is that he preached the sermon at Thomas Brooks’ funeral and that it is excerpted in the memoir at the beginning of the complete works of Thomas Brooks.  If you are thinking that I am finally running out of interviewees and need to get back at it, you are right.  All I have done is insert ‘questions’ that Reeve appears to ‘answer’.  All these quotes are taken from the final pages of Grossart’s memoir (I-xxxv)

1)  What was Thomas Brooks like to be around?  Was he the colder or more cheerful type of personality?

He was certainly a person of a very sweet nature and temper: so affable, and courteous, and cheerful, that he gained upon all that conversed with him; and if any taxed him with any pride or moroseness…in his carriage, it must be only such as did not know him.  He had so winning a way with him, he might bid himself welcome into whatsoever house he entered.  Pride and moroseness are bad qualities for a man of his employ, and make men afraid of the ways of God, for fear they should never enjoy a good day after.”

2)  So did that make him something of a push-over? 

He was…a person of very great gravity: and could carry a majesty in his face when there was occasion, and make the least guilt tremble in his presence with his very countenance.  I never knew a man better loved, nor more dreaded. God had given him such a spirit with power, that his very frowns were darts, and his reproofs sharper than swords.  He would not contemn familiarity, but hated that familiarity that bred contempt.

3)  His health was bad toward the end of his life, how did he handle that?

Notwithstanding the many weaknesses and infirmities, which for a long time have been continually, without ceasing as it were, trying their skill to pull down his frail body to the dust, and at least effected it, yet I never heard an impatient word drop[ from him.  When I came to visit him, and asked him, ‘How do you Sir?’ he answered, ‘Pretty well: I bless God I am well, I am contented with the will of my Father: my Father’s will and mine is but one will.’  It made me often thing of that Isaiah 33:24, ‘the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.’  Sense of pardon took away sense of sickness.

4)  So what was he like as a pastor?  Can you give us 3-4 qualities of his ministry?

1.  An experienced minister.  From the heart to the heart; from the conscience to the conscience.  He had a body of Divinity in his head, and the power of it upon his heart.

2.  A laborious minister: as his works in press and pulpit are undeniable witness of.  To preach so often, and print so much, and yet not satisfied till he could imprint also his works upon the hearts of his people; which is the best way of printing that I know, and the greatest task of a minister of Christ.

3.  He was a minister who delighted in his work.  It was his meat and rink to labour in that great work, insomuch that under his weakness he would be often preaching of little sermons – as he called them – to those that came to visit him, even when by reason of his distemper they were very hardly able to understand them.

4.  He was a very successful minister: the instrument in the hand of God for the conversion of many souls about this City and elsewhere.


I hope this gives you a fuller picture of Thomas Brooks and I hope that whoever preaches my funeral can say some of this about me.  Remember to read Joel Beeke’s chapter on Brooks from “Meet The Puritans” that he allowed me to post here for a fuller picture.

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But God Is Not Answering

The tenth and final objector that Thomas Brooks faces is the person who says “I have sought to the Lord for this and that mercy, and still God delays me, and puts me off; I have been at the door, but now I see it is afar off; how can I then hold my peace?  How can I be silent under such delays and disappointments?” (I-385).  The most common question God gets is likely “why is this happening?” but I bet a close second is “how long is this going to be happening for?”.  It is one level of submission to God to accept the fact of His will to afflict us, but it is another to accept His timing.

1)  “The Lord doth not always time his answers to the swiftness of his people’s expectations” (I-385; all further quotations taken from I-385-390).  That seems a massive understatement to me.  How often does God (in His infinite wisdom) do things the way we think He should (in our sorry attempts at wisdom)?  But Brooks redeems himself with the very next line which is the kind of sentence he is so great at writing: “He that is the God of our mercies, is the Lord of our times.”

2)  “Though the Lord doth defer and delay you for a time, yet he will come, and mercy and deliverance shall certainly come….God will come, and mercy will come; though for the present thy sun be set, and thy God seems to neglect thee, yet thy sun will rise again, and thy God will answer all thy prayers, and supply all thy necessities.”

3)  “Though God do delay thee, yet he doth not forget thee….He can as soon forget himself as forget his people.”

4)  “God’s time is always the best time….Though we are not wise enough to improve the times and seasons which God hath set us, to serve and honour him in, yet we are apt to think that we are wise enough to set God his time, when to hear, and when to save, and when to deliver….(O)ur impatience will never help us to a mercy, one hour, one moment, before the time that God hath set.  The best God will always take the best time to hand out mercies to his people….Therefore hold thy peace; though God delays thee, yet be silent, for there is no possibility of wringing a mercy out of God’s hand, till the mercy be ripe for us, and we ripe for the mercy.”

5)  “The Lord in this life will certainly recompense, and make his children amends for all the delays and put-offs that he exercises them with in this world…”

6)  “The Lord never delays the giving in of this mercy, or that deliverance, or the other favour, but upon great and weighty reason.”  Brooks then holds to form by suggesting a number of reasons why God delays.

  1. “For the trial of his people….As the furnace tries gold, so delays will try what metal a Christian is made of.  Delays will try to the truth and the strength of a Christian’s graces.”
  2. “That they may have the greater experience of the power, grace, love, and mercy in the close.  The Father delays the child, that he may make him the more eager, and so doth God his, that he may make them the more divinely violent.”
  3. “…that he may make a fuller discovery of themselves to themselves….When the fire is put under the pot, then the scum appears; so when God delays a poor soul.  Oh! how doth the scum of pride, the scum of murmuring, the scum of quarrelling, the scum of distrust, the scum of impatience, the scum of despair, discover itself in the heart of a poor creature?”
  4. “God delays and puts off his people to enhance, to raise the price of mercy, the price of deliverance….When a delayed mercy comes, it tastes more like a mercy, it sticks more like a mercy, it warms more like a mercy, works more like a mercy, and it endears the heart to God more like a mercy than any other mercy that a man enjoys.”
  5. “The Lord delays his people, that he may pay them home in own coin….If God serves thee as thou hast often served him, thou hast no reason to complain.”
  6. “The Lord delays his people, that heaven may be the more sweet to them at last.”

Some of my favourite lines from Thomas Brooks so far are in these quotes.  Pick out one that stuck out to you and send it off (tweet it, write it in a card, hire a blimp…).

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What Did You Expect?

You should not be surprised if you get wet in a pool.  You are not allowed to complain about crowds if you decide to do New Years in Times Square.  My indignation would be terribly misinformed if I complained about spicy food at my new favourite restaurant (which includes the two words “Curry House” in the name).  In each case you would simply ask the complainer: “Well what did you expect?” and this is a line of reasoning I keep hearing Thomas Brooks use as he answers these ten objections. 

For example, his third answer to the person who says that they cannot be silent because their good name is being tarnished is to essentially say, “What did you expect?  This is what has happened to the saints throughout history.”  Read #3 back here and remember that even if it is bad with you, “it is no worse with you than it was with them, ‘of whom this world was not worthy’” (I-381).  Then if you keep reading #4 you will see he takes it to the next logical step to remind us that we are not greater than our Master who was “sadly reproached and falsely accused” (I-381).

If you have been following along on these more recent posts as Brooks deals with objections this should sound familiar.  One of his best tactics is again and again to remind us that we should not be surprised that we get wet when we jump in the pool.  If it goes bad with us, it goes as it has gone for scores of God’s people before us.  When you want to complain because God has withdrawn Himself from us he says that this has been the “common lot, portion, and condition of the choicest saints” and that if “God deals no worse with thee than he hath dealt with his most bosom friends…thou hast no reason to complain” (I-372).  When we murmur that we are tempted as well as tried Brooks’ first response is that “those that God loves best are usually tempted most” and he calls to mind David, Job, Joshua, Peter, Paul and even Christ (I-365).  When we say our afflictions have gone on too long he says they “are not so long as the afflictions of other saints” (I-354) and when we protest that our suffering is to a greater degree than others he asks us if we have “reckoned up the afflictions that befell Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Asaph, Haman, the prophets and apostles?” (I-360).  Then if we would still and say that it is so much worse with us than it has been for others he gently suggests that we may be “under some present distemper, that disenables thee to make a right judgment of the different dealings of God with thyself and others” (I-364). 

To any of us who would complain about our trials Brooks would say, “What did you expect?”  It is a good question because it gets to the heart of why we react poorly or just plain wrong under suffering.  The problem is that our expectations of life as creatures on a groaning planet and especially as citizens of heaven marching toward home as aliens and pilgrims are way off.  There are enough explicit statements to tell us to expect suffering (start at I Thessalonians 3:3 and follow your Bible’s cross references) that we should get this, but I know it is a constant battle.  We can ponder a longing for Eden in our hearts but it is likely most helpful to acknowledge a cultural influence in this. 

I just finished reading Book 2 John Piper’s The Swans Are Not Silent series and I would like to close with one of his summary paragraphs on John Bunyan.

“Bunyan’s life and labour call us to live like Pilgrim on the way to the Celestial City.  His suffering and his story summon us, in the prosperous and pleasure-addicted West, to see the Christian life in a radically different way than we ordinarily do.  There is a great gulf between the Christianity that wrestles with whether to worship at the cost of imprisonment and death, and the Christianity that wrestles with whether the kids should play soccer on Sunday morning.  The full title of ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ shows the essence of the pilgrim path: ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress from this World, to that Which is to Come: Delivered under the Similitude of a Dream wherein Is Discovered, the Manner of His Setting out, his Dangerous Journey, and Safe Arrival at the Desired Country.”  For Bunyan, in fact and fiction, the Christian life is a ‘Dangerous Journey’.”  (John Piper, The Hidden Smile of God (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001) 164. 

So what do you expect in life?

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4 Questions With…Gary Albright

Gary Albright is the one you should be jealous of if you were trying to win the “Smooth Stones” Giveaway.  In my never ending search for more “4QW” subjects I used the contact with Gary as a chance to ask a few questions. 

He was born in Texas, lived in Oklahoma and now resides 30 minutes from the coast in Northern California.  He is a landscape and still life painter.  I landed on his blog, paletteandeasel.blogspot.com, a little while back and spent a good amount of time soaking in his work.  I think the one entitled Pewetole Island Sketch is one of my favourites.  It reminds me both of the Pacific Coast where I spent a lot of time on growing up and the Atlantic Coast where I now live.  Gary and his wife are members of Berean Baptist Church in Rohnert Park and he reads the Puritans, church history, biographies and art history. 

1)  Can you briefly tell us about your background with the Puritans?

My acquaintance with the Puritans began in 2009, soon after being introduced to the doctrines grace. I was reading a sermon by Charles Spurgeon in which he mentioned how he delighted in Puritan writings, preferring them over contemporary writings, adding that “as for new books, I leave them to others”. His other frequent references to various Puritans made me curious to discover for myself what their superior qualities might be. After a failed attempt with John Owen, I began by reading through all of Thomas Manton’s sermons on Hebrews 11. Since then I have started reading other Puritans like Thomas Adams, John Owen (again) and more recently, Thomas Brooks.

2)  What was your impression of the Puritans before you started and how has it changed?

My previous impression of the Puritans was shaped more by the dour fictional characters of Nathaniel Hawthorne than by any factual record of who they were or what they accomplished. Once I started reading about the Puritans through various online resources, and later in my well-thumbed copy of Meet the Puritans, I soon discovered what profoundly spiritual, godly men that they were, as well as being among the most learned scholars of their time.

3)  Lots of people are intimidated about the toughness of reading the Puritans, have you come upon any big difficulties?

Yes.  At first, the language of the seventeenth century took some getting used to, but my biggest challenge in reading the Puritans has been learning to digest the complex and densely packed thoughts contained in their writings. When I began reading Thomas Manton’s sermons, they were like nothing I had ever encountered before. My twenty-first century reading/websurfing habits slammed into a solid wall of Manton’s prose. I was reading a sentences like “In the mutual ministry and help of the creatures one to another, they are disposed in such a comely order, that they yield a mutual supply one to another such as may best conserve the universe, cherish man and glorify God,” and having to stop and reread the passage to digest the thought and perhaps write a summary in the margin, and, if need be, copy out the entire passage into my notebook to more fully grasp the thought. Then I could proceed on to the next passage. Reading like this makes for slow going as there are no short-cuts or skimming with the Puritans.  Learning to go slow, stop and reflect on the text has been a retraining process for me, but the required concentration and focused study has been rewarded with a deeper understanding of the scriptures and the doctrines they contain.

4)  Got a couple favourite lines from Thomas Brooks to share?  What do you like about them?

“A humble soul…can not but count and call every thing a mercy that is less than hell.”

“God’s very service is wages; his ways are strewed with roses, and paved with joy that is unspeakable and full of glory and with peace that passeth understanding.”

These lines remind me of how we should view our afflictions and remember what constitutes our true riches.


Thanks again to Gary for giving us some time.  I love to hear about new people reading the Puritans.  Make sure you stop by his blog or even his Esty store  and support a fellow Puritan reader!

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When Your Reputation Is Smeared

We are very nearly at the end of “The Mute Christian” now.  Today is the ninth (of ten) objections that Thomas Brooks answers that arise from his call to silence (from complaints) under trials.  These posts that have simply summarized his answers have certainly been easier for me and I hope helpful for you. 

This time he answers the person who says “I am falsely accused and sadly reproached, and my good name, which should be as dear or dearer to me than my life, is defamed and fly-blown, and things are laid to my charge that I never did, that I never knew, etc.; and how then can I be silent?” (I-379; the following is all taken from I-379-385).  I have never had a severe smearing of my reputation, but if I do I will look back on this section from Brooks.

1)  “(I)t must be granted that a good name is one of the choicest jewels in a Christian’s crown….Whatsoever commodity you lose, be sure yet to preserve that jewel of a good name.”

2)  “It must be granted, that a good name once lost, is very hardly recovered again.  A man may more easily recover a lost friend, a lost estate, than a lost name.”

3)  “Though all this be true, yet it hath been the portion of God’s dearest saints and servants to be slandered, reproached, vilified, and falsely accused.”  Brooks lists Joseph, David, Job, Naboth, Elijah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Paul, the apostles, Athanasius, Eustathius (no idea who he is), Cranmer, Philpot, Latimer and more.  And now that he has our attention, concludes by saying “Well! Christians, seeing it hath been the lot of the dearest saints to be falsely accused, and to have their names and reputes in the world reproached and fly-blown, do you hold your peace, seeing it is no worse with you than it was with them, ‘of whom this world was not worthy.’”

4)  “Our Lord Jesus Christ was sadly reproached and falsely accused.  His precious name, that deserves to be always writ in characters of gold…was often eclipsed before the sun was eclipsed at his death….The name of a Saviour, saith Bernard, is honey in the mouth, and music in the ear, and a jubilee in the heart; and yet where is the heart that can conceive, or the tongue that can express, how much dung and filth hath been cast upon Christ’s name; and how many sharp arrows of reproach and scorn hath been, and daily, yea, hourly, are, shot by the world at Christ’s name and honour?”

5)  “To be well spoken of by them that are ill spoken of by God, to be in favour with them who are out of favour with God, is rather a reproach than an honour to a man….I would not, saith Luther, have the glory and fame of Erasmus; my greatest fear is the praises of men.”

6)  “There will come a day when the Lord will wipe off all the dust and filth that wicked men have cast upon the good names of his people….That God that knows all his children by name will not suffer their names to be long buried under the ashes of reproach and scorn; and therefore hold thy peace.  The more the foot of pride and scorn tramples upon thy name for the present, the more splendent and radiant it will be, as the more men trample upon a figure graven in gold, the more lustrous they make it.  Therefore lay thy hand on thy mouth.”

7)  “The Lord hath been a swift and a terrible witness against such that have falsely accused his children, and that have laded their names with scorn, reproach, and contempt.”

8)  “God himself is daily reproached….Ah! how hardly do most men think of God, and how hardly do they speak of God, and how unhandsomely do they carry it towards God; and yet he bears.  They that will not spare God himself, his name, his truth, his honour; shall we think it much that they spare not us or our names?  Surely no.”

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But God Has Deserted Me…

What would you say to a friend who thought that God had deserted them?  Would you tell them that they are wrong and that God would never withdraw himself?  Would you tell them that it is their own fault (albeit in nicer and more pious terms)?  One of the advantages of immersing myself in the writing of a guy who has been dead for 300+ years is that he thinks differently than me.  The advantage is that he reveals my blindspots; that is, the things I have not thought through correctly due how I have been taught and what I have chosen to learn.  The Puritans have a reputation for being masters of soul care.  I do not know exactly how I would have answered before, but I know that I will answer differently now because of Thomas Brooks.

The eighth objection he faces in calling suffering Christians to refrain from complaints is for the person who says “but God has deserted me! He hath forsaken me! and ‘he that should comfort my soul stands afar off!’ how can I be silent?  The Lord hath hid his face from me; clouds are gathered about me; God hath turned his back upon me; how can I hold my peace?” (I-372; all quotations in this post are taken from I-372-379).

1)  “It hath been the common lot, portion and condition of the choicest saints in this world, to be deserted and forsaken of God (Psalm 30:6-7; Job 23:8-9; Isaiah 8:17 and others).  If God deals no worse with thee than he hath dealt with his most bosom friends, with his choicest jewels, thou hast no reason to complain.” 

2)  “God’s forsaking of thee is only partial, it is not total (Psalm 9:4; Genesis 49:23-24).  God may forsake his people in part, but he never wholly forsakes them; he may forsake them in respect of his quickening presence, and in respect of his comforting presence, but he never forsakes them in respect of his supporting presence (II Corinthians 12:9).”

3)  “Though God hath forsaken thee, yet his love abides and continues constant to thee; he loves thee with an everlasting love….Though God’s dispensations may be changeable towards his people, yet his gracious disposition is unchangeable towards them.”

4)  “Though the Lord hath hid his face from thee, yet certainly thou hast his secret presence with thee.”  Brooks goes on to give a number of proofs that God is still with you:

  • Prizing God and Christ, and his love above all the world
  • Giving the Lord a secret visit, by which he means calling out to him
  • Having a longing for a fuller view of God
  • Being more concerned about being deserted than being afflicted
  • Finding a secret power in your soul to continue struggling to lay hold of God again

“It is no argument that Christ is not in the ship, because tempests and storms arise.”

5)  “Though God be gone, yet he will return again.  Though your sun be now set in a cloud, yet it will rise again; though sorrow may abide for a night, yet joy comes in the morning….God will not suffer his whole displeasure to rise upon his people, neither will he forsake them totally or finally.  The saints shall taste but some sips of the cup of God’s wrath, sinners shall drink the dregs; their storm shall end in a calm, and their winter night shall be turned into a summer day.”

6)  “God’s deserting, God’s forsaking of his people, shall many ways work for their good.”  Under this head Thomas Brooks described eight ways that this is true.

  1. “God by withdrawing from his people will prepare and fit them for greater refreshing, manifestations, and consolations.” 
  2. “By God’s withdrawing from his people, he prevents his people’s withdrawing from him; and so by an affliction he prevents sin….God therefore forsakes us, that we may not forsake our God.  God sometimes hides himself that we may cleave the closer to him, and hang the faster upon him…”
  3. “The Lord, by withdrawing from his people, will enhance and raise the price, and comment the worth, excellency, sweetness, and usefulness of several precious promises….Promises that are suited to a deserted man’s condition, make the sweetest music in his ear, and are the most sovereign cordials to bear up the spirits that God can give, or heaven afford, or the soul desire.”
  4. “By God’s hiding his face and withdrawing himself from thee, thou wilt be enabled more feelingly, and more experimentally to sympathise with others…”
  5. “Hereby the Lord will teach his people to set a higher price upon his face and favour when they come to enjoy it….No man sets so high a price upon Christ, as he that hath lost him and found him again.”
  6. “Hereby the Lord will train up his servants in that precious life of faith….No man lives so free a life, so holy a life, so heavenly a life, so happy a life, as he that lives a life of faith.  By divine withdrawings the soul is put upon hanging upon a naked God, a naked Christ, a naked promise…”
  7. “By divine withdrawings you are made more conformable to Christ your head and husband, who was under spiritual desertion as well as you….(T)hou dost but sip of that bitter cup of which Christ drank deep; thy cloud is no cloud to that which Christ was under.”
  8. “By these transient and partial forsakings the Lord will exceedingly sweeten the clear, full, constant, and uninterrupted enjoyments of himself in heaven to all his people….(H)e hides himself for a season, that his constant presence amongst his children in glory may be more sweet and delightful to them.”

To tighten all this up why not do a little thought exercise.  Have a ‘conversation’ with someone in your mind.  Assume their objections and try to answer without clobbering them.

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