Ten months and millions of dollars later, life in Haiti remains exceedingly difficult for thousands of people affected by a devastating earthquake and now cholera outbreaks.
View these pictures and pray for this nation.
Pastor Brian Croft shares insights he learned from J. C. Ryle about the spiritual benefits of sickness.
Sickness helps to remind men of death. The most live as if they were never going to die. They follow business, or pleasure, or politics, or science, as if earth was their eternal home. They plan and scheme for the future, like the rich fool in the parable, as if they had a long lease of life, and were not tenants at will. A heavy illness sometimes goes far to dispel these delusions. It awakens men from their daydreams, and reminds them that they have to die as well as to live. Now this I say emphatically is a mighty good.
Sickness helps to make men think seriously of God, and their souls, and the world to come. The most in their days of health can find no time for such thoughts. They dislike them. They put them away. They count them troublesome and disagreeable. Now a severe disease has sometimes a wonderful power of mustering and rallying these thoughts, and bringing them up before the eyes of a man’s soul. Even a wicked king like Benhadad, when sick, could think of Elisha (2 Kings 8:8). Even heathen sailors, when death was in sight, were afraid, and cried every man to his god (Jonah 1:5). Surely anything that helps to make men think is a good.
Sickness helps to soften men’s hearts, and teach them wisdom. The natural heart is as hard as a stone. It can see no good in anything which is not of this life, and no happiness excepting in this world. A long illness sometimes goes far to correct these ideas. It exposes the emptiness and hollowness of what the world calls “good” things, and teaches us to hold them with a loose hand. The man of business finds that money alone is not everything the heart requires. The woman of the world finds that costly apparel, and novel-reading, and the reports of balls and operas, are miserable comforters in a sick room. Surely anything that obliges us to alter our weights and measures of earthly things is a real good.
Sickness helps to level and humble us. We are all naturally proud and high–minded. Few, even of the poorest, are free from the infection. Few are to be found who do not look down on somebody else, and secretly flatter themselves that they are “not as other men.” A sick bed is a mighty tamer of such thoughts as these. It forces on us the mighty truth that we are all poor worms that we “dwell in houses of clay,” and are “crushed before the moth” (Job 4:19), and that kings and subjects, masters and servants, rich and poor, are all dying creatures, and will soon stand side by side at the bar of God. In the sight of the coffin and the grave it is not easy to be proud. Surely anything that teaches that lesson is good.
Not many people consistently practice thankfulness. That’s one of the general observations one can make as he considers the story of Jesus cleansing ten lepers(Luke 17:11-19). He meets these ten men and tells them, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they go they are cleansed. But only one of them returns to offer appropriate thanksgiving to Jesus for this great miracle.
One out of ten! Ten percent! That’s like batting .100 in baseball. Not very good. You don’t win a World Series in baseball if that’s the team batting average. You don’t win any Super Bowls if that is your team’s winning percentage. And you don’t please God if you are unthankful.
While we quick to gasp at these nine men, what about us. When is the last time that you consciously expressed your thankfulness to God? To your spouse [Why is it so easy to see their weaknesses and point them out quickly but then give thanks like a miser]. When is the last time you consciously expressed thanks to your pastor fellow church member, your Sunday School teacher, your deacons, or others? Do you have an attitude of gratitude?
Have you ever thought about the incredible reaction of the community after Jesus had just cast out Legion out of the man who lived among the tombs? Here’s what I preached on Sunday:
They had seen an undeniable miracle and they wanted to get rid of the miracle worker. Why? Because they preferred pigs and profit over people, swine over souls. Very reasonable people don’t you think. How very modern, don’t you think? That tells us something, doesn’t it? Miracles are powerful, depravity is more powerful!
They’re more afraid that God may be in their presence than they are that Satan is in their presence That’s the power of sin―of depravity.
“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. ” (John 3:19). “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. ” (Romans 1:21). The preaching of the cross is foolishness to them. Why, because they are of their father the devil. They are dead in trespasses and sins. They walk according to the course of this world which is under the power of the of prince of the power of the air. They are controlled by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The deadly power of depravity!
They preferred their pigs over people, swine over souls? How about us? What do we prefer over the powerful presence of God in our lives?
This past Sunday we studied the last few verses of Genesis 3 where God expels Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden. This really was an act of mercy for without it the first couple would have eaten of the fruit of the tree of life and lived forever in their sin. So even when God is painting a picture of judgment to warn us about sin, He is also painting a picture of grace.
James Boice describes this illustration that his predecessor Dr. Donald Barnhouse developed with great skill in his sermon entitled “Falling into Grace!”
Sir Edward C. Burne-Jones was a prominent artist in England during the latter part of the nineteenth century. One day he was invited to tea at the home of his daughter. On this occasion his little granddaughter was also seated at the table, but she became so naughty that her mother made her stand in the corner with her face to the wall. Sir Edward was a well-trained grandfather, so he did not interfere. But the next morning he arrived at his daughter’s home with his paints and palette. He went to the wall where the little girl had been forced to stand, and there he painted pictures―a kitten chasing its tail, lambs in a field, goldfish swimming. The wall on both sides of that corner was decorated with his paintings, all for his granddaughter’s delight. Now, if she had to stand in the corner again, at least she would have something to look at.–From Genesis, p. 245
This is what God did in this scene of judgment! He transforms it into a wonderful picture of God’s grace!