An Exhortation To Comfort, Even In The Midst Of Death

19th Century, Portrait of John Calvin

I am spending a little time with John Calvin every day this year through Joel Beeke’s wonderful resource, 365 Days With Calvin.  I thought it would be a good introduction to the mind of the man, and then in 2011 I plan on tackling the Institutes.

I highly recommend this book to you.  Consider what a deal this is – for under $16 you get to sit and “hear” from Calvin on 365 different texts, and how they might significantly apply to your life.

Yesterday’s reading on the issue of suffering was so helpful I thought I’d share most of it here for you.  Calvin is reflecting on Psalm 138:7.

Psa. 138.7    Though I am surrounded by troubles,

you will protect me from the anger of my enemies.

You reach out your hand,

and the power of your right hand saves me.

Calvin’s response ::

Here David declares that God chooses to be his preserver, even if that means bringing him back to life in the midst of his troubles.

The passage well deserves our attention, for by nature we are so averse to suffering that we wish we might live safely beyond the shot of its arrows.  We shrink from close contact with even the fear of death as something altogether intolerable.  At the slightest approach to danger, we are immoderately afraid, as if our emergencies preclude the hope of divine deliverance.

Faith’s true office is to see life in the midst of death.  It is to trust the mercy of God, not to procure us universal exemption from evil, but to quicken us in the midst of death every moment of our lives. For God humbles his children under various trials so that his defense of them may be more remarkable and that he may show himself to be their deliverer as well as their preserver.

In the world, believers are constantly exposed to danger. David offers the assurance that he will be safe under God’s protection from all of his enemies and their efforts.  He declares his hope is in the hand of God, which is stretched out for his help and will be invincible and victorious over every foe.

From this we are taught that God chooses to exercise his children with continual conflict, so that, having one foot as it were in the grave, they may flee with alarm to hide themselves under his wings, where they may abide in peace.  (Emphasis mine)

Joel Beeke asks (in the daily “For Meditation” section at the bottom of each reading):

This ought to give us a sense of peace, even in a world of trouble where enemies abound. What do you think David meant when he said, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies” (Ps. 23:5a)?

In this world we will have suffering.  As for me, I, like David, like Calvin, choose to “flee with alarm to hide [myself] under his wings…”

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