Having visited a friend in hospital recently, God seems to have brought into my view two wonderful (and short) articles by godly men on lessons God teaches us through difficult times.
First, there are these nine lessons from JC Ryle. Each worth reflecting on. Most significant to me at the time I first read was this:
5. To send us to our Bibles. That blessed Book, in the days of health, is too often left on the shelf, becomes the safest place in which to put a bank-note, and is never opened from January to December. But sickness often brings it down from the shelf and throws new light on its pages.
And then, from a contemporary church leader and teacher, there are these 10 lessons from John Piper following his recent hospital stay. Lesson 9 is this:
9. Let the self-revelation of Jesus as the good physician be sweet to your soul, and preach to yourself that this light momentary affliction is working for you an eternal weight of glory.
How blessed we are to have easy access to such great encouragement. I trust a friend will direct me back to these lessons when illness strikes.
As a pastor of a reformed baptist church, I confess to having a particular interest in Calvin’s theology. As a rather sickly pastor, I also have a particular interest in Calvin’s experience of constant ill health. I want in a later post to outline some of the lessons I believe God continues to teach me throughout my experiences of sickness. For now, here’s a passage I find myself returning to for perspective and encouragement.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. (2 Cor 4v7-11)
More on that later. In the meantime, do watch this short talk (just 6 mins!) from well respect theologian, Michael Horton, of Westminister Seminary, as he outlines Calvin’s experiences of ill health and how God used those experiences for good. I found it hugely encouraging. I trust you will too.