Friday, July 20, 2007

Spurgeon on Working Joyfully Through Trials and Prosperity

I haven't blogged for well over a week so what better way to get back into the swing of things that to unpack wisdom from our friend CH Spurgeon.



We all encounter ups and downs as we work. At times, things go well for us, and other times we experience adversity or trials at work. If you're like me, it's easy to get tossed about emotionally. How do we stay consistently joyful through these ups and downs?

Here's what Spurgeon would say about these up and down feelings we encounter in our work - "...faith has a happy influence upon this present life, for it moderates a man's feelings towards his work." If inconsistent feelings are my problem, then Spurgeon would say that faith toward God is the answer.

"...perchance the result of all our work may be adversity. Some men row very hard, yet their boat makes no headway. When an opportunity comes their way, the tide of trade turns against them... Perhaps they lose all but their character, then it is faith that comes in to cheer them under the disaster."

It is faith that enables us to joyfully accept God's will when it seems things aren't going our way.

"We shall bear up and come through our trials triumphantly if we have faith in God. If our Father has appointed a bitter cup for us, shall we not drink it? ... Must it not be right if the Lord ordains it?... How many have been happy in poverty, happier than when they were in wealth! How often have the saints rejoiced more during sickness than in their health...faith has learned to sing in all weathers because her God is still the same"

Sometimes it is not adversity that trips us up but prosperity. We've discussed the test of prosperity before. Here is Spurgeon's take on the test of prosperity -

"Sometimes the result of our work is prosperity and here the grace of God prevents a surfeit of worldly things. There is a keen test of character in prosperity. Everybody longs for it but not every man can bear it when it comes. "

Yet, this is where faith is tested and proven true by restraining our sinful hearts and directing us to God.

"True faith forbids our setting great store by worldly goods and pleasures and enjoyments, for it teaches us that our treasure is in heaven...Many a man has reached the summit of his lifelong ambition and found it to be vanity. In gaining all, he has lost all; wealth has come but the power to enjoy has gone...It shall not be so with the man who lives by faith, for his chief joys are above and his comforts lie within. To him, God is joy so rich that other joy is comparatively flavourless."

Whether we find our work mired in adversity or flourishing in prosperity, Spurgeon urges us to keep the eyes of our faith set on God.

"O brothers and sisters, faith is a precious preparative for anything and everything that comes; mind that you have it always ready for action. Do not leave it at home in time of storm as the foolish seaman left his anchor...Oh, to feel the power of it, as to all that comes of our labour, that the life which we live in the flesh, may be lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us."

6 comments:

Mark Goodyear said...

ESI, good to hear from you over again! Sorry I've been away so long.

The quote about how some men row very hard reminds me of a parable Annie Dillard tells in her book The Writing Life.

A man was retrieving some drift wood in a row boat, but he didn't make it to shore before the tide went out. He had to continue rowing against the tide just to stay in the same place. But he kept rowing. He didn't need to see any immediate progress. He had faith the tide would come back in.

I love the quote that faith "moderates a man's feelings towards his work." That's really wonderful stuff!

L.L. Barkat said...

Yes, I missed you. Were you off reading Spurgeon? :)

Prosperity can addle the brain. Even simple prosperity like that I experienced today.

We walked through the woods and they were filled with raspberries. More than I could ever pick. They seemed to go on forever.

I found myself overcome with a sense of helplessness, even as I knew I had as much as I could eat and more (yup, gathered three containers worth!).

I began talking to my inner self, trying to explain that it is okay to simply be content with what we need and have at our fingertips. And that all this wealth needn't be mine, couldn't be anyway.

Every Square Inch said...

Mark

Thanks for commenting. What happened to the man in Dillard's parable? Did he make it?

Every Square Inch said...

LL

I'm glad to know I'm missed...but I was not off reading Spurgeon...although that would be a very good use of my time.

I'm working on launching a non profit initiative to make gospel centered materials accessible to non-English speaking churches.

On the reading front, I'm still working through the Shelley's Church History book and I'm also almost finished with The Long Tail.

Both have been excellent...different, but excellent.

Ted Gossard said...

ESI, Spurgeon is rich and I want to read up more on the good, old Protestant work ethic.

I like this sense of faith moderating our feelings. This helps us not only in our workaday world, but in all of life, to avoid temptations and snares because we are so affected. But instead to have those inward affections not only moderated, but receiving ongoing forgiveness and cleansing so as to experience God's peace and love more. That reminds me of my desire to read Jonathan Edwards' classic on our affections in God in this world.

Thanks for these stimulating sayings from Spurgeon.

Every Square Inch said...

Ted

Thanks for stopping by. It's interesting that you mentioned Edwards. I am reading a book on Edwards called A God Entranced Vision of All Things. It's by a number of contributing authors on the life and work of Jonathan Edwards. I received the book as a gift and just started in on it...so far, it's been great!