The following quote comes from Richard Sibbs, but it was shared with me by Roger Knowlton. Roger is one of the men from TEAM 500, a group of pastors of the Evangelical Free Church of America who serve churches between 500 and 1000 souls. Two weeks ago, I was able to spend three days with these men who over the last dozen years or so have become a significant sounding board and praying comrades in the ministry. Here’s the quote.
“Ungodly spirits, ignorant of God’s ways in bringing his children to heaven, censure broken hearted Christians as miserable persons, whereas God is doing a gracious, good work with them. It is no easy matter to bring a man from nature to grace, and from grace to glory, so unyielding and intractable are our hearts.” (Richard Sibbs)
I think the quote is from, The Bruised Reed and Smoking Flax that Sibbs wrote in 1631, which itself is an extended exegesis of Isaiah 42:3:
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice. (ESV)
There are some people, we’ve all met them, who believe it is a sin for a Christian to ever have a down day. They think that if you are not perpetually happy and cheery you are somehow lacking in faith.
There are others, you’ve met some of them as well, who can’t tolerate the “bruised reed moments” of your life. It’s almost as if it is a contagion that they have to avoid lest they contract it themselves. Typically, they try to cheer you up with happy talk. Ever been there?
Yeah, me to—too often.
They don’t realize the wisdom embedded in Sibbs’ antiquated language. It is not you who are unspiritual. It’s them. They are ignorant of God’s ways with His people. God will use any means necessary, any means, to make us holy, to make us cling to Him and nothing but Him. Sibbs is right, “It is no easy matter to bring a man from nature to grace, and from grace to glory, so unyielding and intractable are our hearts.”
So today, wherever you are in your personal journey, but especially if you are going through any testing or trials in your life, remember:
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
. but now I keep your word. Psalm 119:67
It is good for me that I was afflicted,
. that I might learn your statutes. Psalm 119:71
I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous
. and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. Psalm 119:75
All afflictions we face come through the righteous faithfulness of God. Let His purpose of making you His, drive you in a relentless, passionate pursuit of Him until He becomes what you cling to in all the turmoils of life till He brings you home to glory.