Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fear will magnify your trouble

I remember well, one night, having been preaching the word in a country village, I was walking home alone along a lonely footpath. I do not know what it was that ailed me, but I was prepared to be alarmed, when of a surety I saw something standing in the hedge, ghastly, giant-like, and with outstretched arms. Surely, I thought, for once I have come across the supernatural; here is some restless spirit performing its midnight march beneath the moon, or some demon of the pit. I deliberated with myself a moment, and having no faith in ghosts, I plucked up courage, and resolved to solve the mystery. The monster stood on the other side of a ditch, right in the hedge. I jumped the ditch, and found myself grasping an old tree, which some waggish body had taken pains to color with a little whitewash, with a view to frighten simpletons. That old tree has served me a good turn full often, for I have learned to leap at difficulties, and find them vanish or turn to triumphs.

Half our afflictions are only appalling in prospect because we do not know what they are; and if we will but in faith patiently await them, they will be but light and transient. Thus, by chasing away the gloom of our dark imagination, God often makes darkness light before us. Much, again, of the darkness which does really exist is exaggerated. There is some cause for alarm, but not one half the cause which your fancy pictures. “All these things are against me,” says Jacob: “Joseph is not, Simeon is not; and now ye will take Benjamin away.” There was something in this complaint. Joseph was not with his father, Simeon was kept in ward; but the old man had pictured Joseph devoured of an evil beast, and Simeon given up to be a perpetual slave in a foreign land.

His fears had magnified the trouble which existed. And, believer, so probably it is with you. You shall find that the load which seems now to be far too ponderous for you to lift, shall be easily carried on the shoulders which divine grace shall strengthen if you have but confidence enough to venture upon the task. That cross is not made of iron, it is only a wooden one; it may be painted with iron colors, but iron it is not; it has been carried, ay, and a weightier one by far, has been carried by other men aforetime - shoulder it like a man, shoulder it like a man of God. Take up your cross daily, and go forward with your Master, and you shall find that mountains shrink to molehills, giants are seen to be but dwarfs, dragons and griffins are but bats and owls, and the leviathan himself a defeated foe.

From a sermon entitled "Joyful Transformations," delivered December 27, 1868. Image by Thomas & Dianne Jones under Creative Commons License.

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