I really like this quote by Spurgeon, but also realize that it can feel a bit harsh or even hollow in the midst of ongoing struggle. I think of the wife with a neglectful or abusive husband, who sacrifices herself to care for her children . . . I think of the man who works two or three jobs just to provide enough (or not even enough) for his family . . . I think of the woman in chronic pain who can barely make it through the day without great effort and expense of energy and sanity . . . I think of the addict that has no desire to be immersed in their addiction but can’t seem to get out . . . How do I, as a pastor comfort them with, “God’s great love would change your circumstances if there were better circumstances for you.” I’m fairly certain that they would argue that they can come up with a few circumstances that are better for them than their current circumstances, and to be honest I feel hard pressed to disagree . . . But . . . God’s work in our life is always with an eternal focus in mind, whereas we most often focus on our present circumstances. It might be true that we can come up with much better circumstances than the one’s in which we presently find ourselves, if the comfort and enjoyment of our immediate circumstances were the primary goal. On the other hand, if God is using our present circumstances to draw us to himself, or refine us, or use us in some way, or even simply be glorified through our suffering . . . then our present circumstances become the best place for us to be. That may be a hard pill to swallow, but as is the case with much medicine . . . It’s right and good.
This quote comes from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotional (November 11, Evening Reading from Psalm 47:4).
Believer, if your inheritance be a lowly one you should be satisfied with your earthly portion; for you may rest assured that it is the fittest for you. Unerring wisdom ordained your lot, and selected for you the safest and best condition. A ship of large tonnage is to be brought up the river; now, in one part of the stream there is a sandbank; should some one ask, “Why does the captain steer through the deep part of the channel and deviate so much from a straight line?” His answer would be, “Because I should not get my vessel into harbour at all if I did not keep to the deep channel.” So, it may be, you would run aground and suffer shipwreck, if your divine Captain did not steer you into the depths of affliction where waves of trouble follow each other in quick succession. Some plants die if they have too much sunshine. It may be that you are planted where you get but little, you are put there by the loving Husbandman, because only in that situation will you bring forth fruit unto perfection. Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you had the choosing of your lot, you would soon cry, “Lord, choose my inheritance for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows.” Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good. Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder, and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God. Down busy self, and proud impatience, it is not for you to choose, but for the Lord of Love!
“Trials must and will befall-
But with humble faith to see
Love inscribed upon them all;
This is happiness to me.”