I read Morning and Evening daily, using e-Sword. Often Spurgeon has a word of uplift or encouragement, or both; sometimes uncannily well-timed. I found his March 9 evening thoughts remarkable on a number of levels.
The text is Genesis 35:18, which reads thus in ESV: "And as her soul was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-oni [= son of my sorrow]; but his father called him Benjamin [=son of my right hand]."
Here are Spurgeon's thoughts:
To every matter there is a bright as well as a dark side. Rachel was overwhelmed with the sorrow of her own travail and death; Jacob, though weeping the mother’s loss, could see the mercy of the child’s birth. It is well for us if, while the flesh mourns over trials, our faith triumphs in divine faithfulness. Samson’s lion yielded honey, and so will our adversities, if rightly considered. The stormy sea feeds multitudes with its fishes; the wild wood blooms with beauteous florets; the stormy wind sweeps away the pestilence, and the biting frost loosens the soil. Dark clouds distil bright drops, and black earth grows gay flowers. A vein of good is to be found in every mine of evil. Sad hearts have peculiar skill in discovering the most disadvantageous point of view from which to gaze upon a trial; if there were only one slough in the world, they would soon be up to their necks in it, and if there were only one lion in the desert they would hear it roar. About us all there is a tinge of this wretched folly, and we are apt, at times, like Jacob, to cry, "All these things are against me." Faith’s way of walking is to cast all care upon the Lord, and then to anticipate good results from the worst calamities. Like Gideon’s men, she does not fret over the broken pitcher, but rejoices that the lamp blazes forth the more. Out of the rough oyster-shell of difficulty she extracts the rare pearl of honour, and from the deep ocean-caves of distress she uplifts the priceless coral of experience. When her flood of prosperity ebbs, she finds treasures hid in the sands; and when her sun of delight goes down, she turns her telescope of hope to the starry promises of heaven. When death itself appears, faith points to the light of resurrection beyond the grave, thus making our dying Benoni to be our living Benjamin.Here are mine. MS Word counts 330 words in that little devotional. In those 330 words:
- I count fully five allusions to Scriptures besides the target-Scripture.
- I count eleven metaphors (how to count them can be argued).
- I count, apart from the metaphors and Biblical references, six allusions to nature.
- Besides all that, the thoughts are just wonderful, with some heart-brightening, memorable, wonderful words of cheer and encouragement. Just savor this: "A vein of good is to be found in every mine of evil. Sad hearts have peculiar skill in discovering the most disadvantageous point of view from which to gaze upon a trial; if there were only one slough in the world, they would soon be up to their necks in it, and if there were only one lion in the desert they would hear it roar. About us all there is a tinge of this wretched folly, and we are apt, at times, like Jacob, to cry, 'All these things are against me.' Faith’s way of walking is to cast all care upon the Lord, and then to anticipate good results from the worst calamities."
- In that, too, see why Spurgeon is better than Edwards. (One-Dan's-opinion alert in three... two... one....) For all my efforts to like and appreciate Edwards, I just haven't succeeded yet. Jonathan Edwards writes like a bloodless statue. But Spurgeon -- he's been there, he's fought and struggled, and he's got some hard-won encouagement and cheer he wants to share.
- Having said all that, it's hard to say that this really came from the text! This has long cracked me up about Spurgeon, and my love for him. I would never preach like him. Sometimes he does a wonderful job with his text; and sometimes I have to admit that the text is more of a pretext. But what he says is always golden! Spurgeon could see a gum-wrapper in the gutter and preach a heartening, God-exalting, sinner-wooing, saint-strengthening sermon. The gum-wrapper would be incidental.
So what I'm left saying is, "Kids, don't try this at home!" Spurgeon could do it, because God made him Spurgeon. He didn't make me Spurgeon and, no offense, but the odds are staggering that He didn't make you Spurgeon, either.
But thank God He made Spurgeon Spurgeon.