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The Sympathy of Christ!

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The Sympathy of Christ!

(Francis Bourdillon)

“We do not have a high priest who is unable to¬†sympathize¬†with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are” Hebrews 4:15

In all our infirmities and troubles of every kind–in pain and sickness, in poverty and need, in anxiety and grief–Jesus has a sympathetic heart for us. Is not this comforting? Does it not cheer us in a time of suffering, when some kind friend comes in and sits down beside us and shows most plainly that though he is unable to help us, he does sincerely feel for us? How much more cheering it is to know that Jesus in Heaven sympathizes with us in all our troubles here below! Does not this thought, this blessed truth–take the edge off the sharpest suffering, and lift us for the time above our sorrows?¬†

Jesus Christ Himself was afflicted when He was on earth. He is called a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. No sorrows were ever equal to His. We know that He was tired and hungry and sad. He was besides, the poorest of the poor–He had nowhere to lay His head. He led what would be called a very hard life.¬†

Our greatest sufferings are light when compared with His. He had some afflictions which we cannot fully understand, as when He prayed in the garden, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me!” And as when He cried upon the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me!”¬†¬†

He can sympathize with the poor–because He was poor Himself.¬†
He can sympathize with the sad–because He was a man of sorrows.¬†
He can sympathize with all who suffer–because His own sufferings were so many and so great.¬†

He was tempted; He was tried; He was afflicted; He went through what we have to go through–and much more. In this very world in which we live now–He lived and suffered; and therefore He can and does sympathize with His suffering people.¬†

“He was despised and rejected by men–a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces–He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows–yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace, was upon Him–and by His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:3-5

Wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked!

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Wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked!

(Francis Bourdillon, 1864)

There is One who knows just what we are. The Lord Jesus Christ says, “I know your works!” His eye is always upon us. He knows us exactly as we are–each one of us. Mere profession does not deceive Him. Mere head knowledge does not pass with Him for repentance, faith, and holiness. He knows our hearts–and He knows our lives.¬†

The mockery of an empty profession, 
the mere pretense of a religion that is all in the head or on the lips, 
the unhumbled heart, 
the coldness, the hardness, the lack of faith and gratitude and love
–He knows them all!

“You do not realize that you are¬†wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked!” Revelation 3:17

The very first lesson we must learn–is what we¬†are.¬†

What are we, then? Just what the Laodiceans were, but did not know themselves to be: “Wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked!”¬†

What–all¬†of us?¬†
Yes–all¬†of us!

We are “wretched,” for we are in great misery and danger–and all the more wretched because we do not know it.¬†

We are “miserable,” worthy to be pitied, even while we flatter ourselves that all is well with us, for we are but deceiving ourselves.

We are “poor,” for we have no spiritual wealth–no supply whatever for the needs of our souls.

We are “blind,” ignorant of our own hearts–ignorant of God–ignorant of truth and of the way of life.¬†

We are “naked,” with no righteousness of our own in which we can appear–no covering, no defense, no refuge.

We are all this–and, worst of all,¬†we do not know it!¬†If we knew it and bewailed it–then our case would not be so bad. In other words, if we knew ourselves to be sinners–then it might be hoped that we would seek the Savior of sinners. But we shall never seek Him–until we feel our¬†need¬†of Him!

Whence does it come?

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Whence does it come?

(Francis Bourdillon, “Man is Born to Trouble!” 1864)

Affliction¬†does not come from the dust–nor does¬†trouble¬†sprout from the ground. For man is born unto trouble–as surely as sparks fly upward.” Job 5:6-7

Affliction does not come of itself; it does not spring up from the dust of the earth, nor grow naturally from the ground, as plants do; nor has¬†chance¬†anything whatever to do with it. As¬†common¬†as it is–affliction does not come without a cause, or without being sent on purpose by God.

Yet affliction does fall to the lot of all. No one, however prosperous, is without sorrow and trial. Sooner or later: “Man is born unto trouble–as surely as sparks fly upward.” As surely as sparks go up from anything burning, or from iron beaten on the anvil–so surely does trouble in some shape befall every man who is born into the world.

Whence does it come?¬†God sends it–or at least allows it to come. But it is not saying too much, to say that He¬†sends¬†it.

When Adam fell and¬†sin¬†and death entered into the world–then¬†trouble¬†came too. This was God’s appointment. He said to Adam, “Because you have listened unto the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you–cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; in the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, until you return unto the ground; for out of it were you taken–for dust you are, and unto dust shall you return.”

And not only is trouble¬†in general¬†appointed to man by God–but¬†each man’s particular trouble¬†is of God’s appointment as well. Your troubles and mine do not come forth of the dust or spring out of the ground. They do not arise by¬†chance¬†or¬†accident. God sends them! Sickness and sorrow are ordained for us by Him–each sickness and each sorrow as it comes. We do not see the hand that sends them, but a hand there is–the hand of God!

Job’s troubles¬†were many and great–yet let him not despair. Everything was in God’s hand. All that happened was ordered by Him–all was subject to His control. “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:¬†“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,¬†and naked I will depart.¬†The Lord¬†gave–and the Lord has¬†taken away;¬†may the name of the¬†Lord¬†be praised.”¬†Job 1:20-21¬†

To all who truly know God–it is a most comforting thought that¬†their affliction comes from Him. It seems to take away the¬†strangeness¬†and the¬†bitterness¬†of it. When once they can realize His hand, then in all their sorrowful thoughts about their afflictions–they think about God too, and this comforts them. It is no longer mere trouble–but trouble which¬†God¬†has sent. If He has sent it–then it is¬†wisely¬†and¬†kindly¬†sent. Is there not a hidden blessing in it? Then the heart goes in search of the blessing and begins to ask¬†why¬†the trouble was sent, what it was meant to do, and how far it has done what it was sent for. And this is the very way to find the blessing.

Besides, when the sufferer thus sees the hand of God in trouble–he reasons that¬†God will never let the trouble be too great. If He sends it–He will not send it too sharply, nor too heavily. There is¬†no chance¬†about it.¬†All is measured and dealt out by an omnipotent hand of wisdom and love!¬†The affliction, therefore, cannot become too sore. When the right point has been reached, when the fit time has come–then He who sent it will say, “Hitherto shall you come, but no further!”

Why are those blessed, who hear and obey the Word of God?

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Why are those blessed, who hear and obey the Word of God?

(Francis Bourdillon, “Short Sermons for Family Reading” 1881)

“Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28¬†

The Word must be obeyed–as well as heard. We must not hear it carelessly. Nor must we be hearers only, forgetting it as soon as heard. We are to guard it and keep it–to treasure it in our hearts as a precious possession. We are to believe it and to follow it–then the full blessing will be ours.

Why are those blessed, who hear and obey the Word of God?

1. Because the Word of God tells us of the¬†Savior, speaks pardon and peace, and opens to us God’s wondrous way of saving sinners. This can be said of no other book, and no other thing. The¬†works¬†of God in nature tell us much–but they do not tell us this. Many books of man are written on these subjects–but they are but man’s books after all.¬†

2. They are blessed also, because the Word of God is a¬†sure guide. It is a difficult path through the wilderness of this world. Many hindrances and perplexities meet us–and many different rules are offered for our guidance: fashion, custom, prudence, man’s opinion, etc. But the Word of God is the only¬†sure¬†guide. A simple, humble, earnest following of this guide–is the wisest, happiest, safest course! The poorest and most unlearned who through grace take this course–have more security for going right than the greatest and wisest who follow any other path. Therefore they are blessed who hear and keep the word of God–because they have a sure guide through life.

3. The word of God also¬†comforts¬†in trouble, and therefore they are blessed who hear it and keep it. This world has its sorrows as well as its difficulties–sorrows many and great; but the word of God has comfort for all of life’s sorrows. It is full of comfort. It has promises and declarations of God’s love. It contains examples of mourners whom He has comforted–and these in great number and variety. There is no kind of trouble for which some suitable comfort may not be found in the Bible. In time of deep sorrow–a comfort and consolation are found in the Word of God which are sought in vain in other books. It is the best of all books for those in trouble.

The one unfailing source of help and comfort!

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The one unfailing source of help and comfort!

(Francis Bourdillon, “Come unto Me!” 1864)

Come unto Me,¬†all¬†who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!”¬†Matthew 11:28¬†

Jesus invites¬†all¬†who labor and are heavy laden, to come unto Him. Not sufferers of one kind only–but¬†all¬†sufferers. Not those alone who feel the weight of this particular burden or that–but¬†all¬†the heavy laden.¬†

The poor and needy, 
the weak and sickly, 
the toiling father, 
the anxious mother,
he who feels the weight of his sins, 
he whose conscience testifies against him, 
he who finds no comfort in this world, and yet fears that he is not prepared for the next
–all are invited to come to Jesus!

Their¬†cases¬†are widely different, the¬†burdens¬†that press upon them are by no means alike–yet all are invited to one Helper and Comforter, “Come unto Me!” He does not bid one sufferer go for comfort to this source–and another to that. He invites all¬†to Himself–as¬†the one unfailing source of help and comfort!¬†

“Come unto Me!” We do not¬†deserve¬†to be thus invited. Many are suffering the consequences of their own sins–and all of us are sinners. If we met with only what we¬†deserve–then He might justly say to us, “Go away¬†from Me!” Instead of this, Jesus bids us¬†come¬†to Him. Whatever we may have been–however thoughtless, however ungrateful, however wicked–yet if we are now in need or trouble, that is enough. He bids us come to Him.

We are not to stop and think about¬†our own unworthiness. He says nothing here about that. He only says, “Come unto Me.” That is what He invites us to do–that is what we are to do, and we are to do it at once!

Tenderly and graciously does He deal with us!

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Tenderly and graciously does He deal with us!

(Francis Bourdillon, “A Psalm of Blessing!” 1864)

“For He knows how weak we are–He remembers we are only dust. Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone–as though we had never been here! But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear Him.” Psalm 103:14-17

The¬†shortness¬†and¬†uncertainty¬†of our lives–our weakness, frailty, and sinfulness–God knows them all.¬†Tenderly and graciously does He deal with us!¬†In His great mercy and compassion, He . . .
  bears with us;
  raises us when we fall;
  strengthens us when we are weak; and
  helps, guides, sustains and comforts us. 

He has . . .
  a perfect knowledge of our needs, 
  an unspeakable compassion for them,
  and full power to supply them all.

His mercy is everlasting. It will never wear out–and never come to an end.¬†

As for us, we are frail and short-lived. Let but a few years pass, and . . .
  the strongest will have fallen to the sythe of death,
  the longest-lived will have all passed away, and
  our own course here below will have come to a close. 
“Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone–as though we had never been here!”¬†

Not so is the mercy of the Lord, and the things which He has prepared for those who love Him. They are from everlasting to everlasting. His promises will never fail. Jesus is . . .
  an all-sufficient Savior,
  an unfailing Advocate,
  an everlasting portion!

Well may every believer join with the Psalmist in rejoicing and praising God,
¬†¬† “Praise the¬†LORD, O my soul–all my inmost being, praise His holy name!
¬† ¬†¬†Praise the¬†LORD, O my soul–and do not forget all His benefits!”¬†Psalm 103:1-2

Alas, how cold are our hearts, how trifling are our thoughts, how small is our zeal and love!

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Alas, how cold are our hearts, how trifling are our thoughts, how small is our zeal and love! 

(Francis Bourdillon, “We Need Stirring Up!” 1864)

“For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to¬†stir you up¬†by reminding you!” 2 Peter 1:12-13¬†

We need stirring up–not so much to be taught something new, as to be stirred up as to what we have learned already.¬†

Most of us have long ago been taught the facts and doctrines of the gospel. Probably we know them well. Perhaps we are even firmly “established in the present truth.” We have learned of¬†Heaven¬†and¬†Hell¬†and¬†eternity. We have been taught our lost estate as sinners, and that Jesus died for sinners–that His precious blood has atoned for sin, that He has opened the way for us to the throne of grace and to acceptance with God. We have heard of¬†death¬†and of¬†judgment–and of the uncertainty of life and the shortness of time. We have been told . . .
¬† of Satan’s devices,
  of the value of prayer,
  of the mercy and love of God in Christ,
  and of the work of the Spirit.

What is our spiritual state, after so much teaching?¬†Alas, how cold are our hearts, how trifling are our thoughts, how small is our zeal and love!¬†How little we have of deep sorrow for sin–and how little sincere faith in Jesus! Where are the fruits of the Spirit in us? Where is . . .
  that deep concern,
  that earnest desire,
  that prayerfulness,
  that watchfulness,
  that warmth of feeling,
¬† that pressing toward the mark–
which might be expected in those who have learned such things?

We need stirring up! 

We should stir ourselves up by the Word of God. 
Let us apply it to ourselves and take it as if addressed to us.
Let us not listen to it or read it carelessly–but as¬†the message of God to us!¬†
Let us not be¬†hearers¬†only–but¬†doers¬†of the Word . . .
¬† receiving it as God’s message,
  pondering it in our minds,
  applying it to ourselves,
  believing it, and
  striving to live by it!

Let us also pray for the¬†quickening influence of God’s Holy Spirit. This alone can really . . .
  stir the depths of our hearts,
  rouse us from spiritual sloth and 
  give us new earnestness and zeal!

The suffering Christian!

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The suffering Christian!

(Francis Bourdillon, “Affliction, Light and Short!” 1864)

“For our¬†light¬†affliction, which is but for a¬†moment–is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we do not look at the things which are seen–but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary–but the things which are not seen are eternal!” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18¬†

Few people will call their present affliction¬†light–and few are disposed to call it¬†short. For while it lasts, it seems¬†hard¬†to bear–and a time of suffering generally appears¬†long. Yet the apostle Paul writes thus about his affliction: “Our¬†light¬†affliction, which is but for a¬†moment.”¬†

Paul’s afflictions were not, in themselves,¬†light–few men have gone through more hardships and trials than he did. Nor were they, in themselves,¬†short–for wherever he went he found them; they continued, more or less, to the end of his life.¬†

It was only when he¬†compared¬†his present affliction with the glory that was so soon to follow–that it seemed to him light and short. Then he could say, “Our¬†light¬†affliction, which is but for a¬†moment.”

We must always try to look at our afflictions in this way. If we look at them alone–they will be enough to overwhelm us! But if we think also, and even more, of the eternal¬†rest¬†and¬†happiness¬†and¬†glory¬†which lie ahead of us–then our view of our present afflictions will be greatly changed.¬†

“True,” we shall feel, “true, my sorrows are many; my sickness is sore; my pain is great; long have I lain upon a bed of suffering. Yet before me lies a home of perfect rest, where pain and sickness and sorrow cannot come. My Savior has¬†promised¬†it to me and has gone before to¬†prepare¬†it for me. In a little while, I shall be there!”¬†

With thoughts such as these,¬†the suffering Christian¬†should comfort himself–and thus weigh¬†present affliction¬†against¬†future glory. For what are all things here below, but short? Joys and sorrows, health and sickness, affliction and prosperity–all the things that¬†pain¬†and that¬†please, “the things which are seen”–all these things are but for a time.¬†

Whereas “the things which are not seen are eternal.” What we¬†hope¬†for, what Christ has¬†purchased¬†for us and gone before to¬†prepare¬†for us–that is forever! Our pains and sorrows will soon end–but our pleasures will never end! Our affliction is but for a little while–but our comforts, our Savior’s presence, our Heavenly home, will be ours always!¬†

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away–yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day!” 2 Corinthians 4:16


The sheep do not choose their own pasture!

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The sheep do not choose their own pasture!

(Francis Bourdillon, “Bedside Readings” 1864)

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures.¬†He leads me beside the still waters.”¬†Psalm 23:2¬†

“He makes me lie down in green pastures.”¬†That is, He supplies the needs of our souls. He . . .
  gives us the food of the Word of God, 
  strengthens us with His grace, and
  makes us to find our rest in Him. 

“He leads me beside the still waters.”¬†That is, He . . .
  refreshes us when we are weary, 
  revives our hearts by His promises, 
  cheers us by His presence, 
  gives us His Holy Spirit, and 
  enables us to rejoice in His salvation. 

Amidst all our trials and troubles–He comforts us and gives us fresh hope.¬†

Some may say, “Why should I have trouble at all? Why does the good Shepherd send me anything besides comfort and pleasure? Why am I¬†poor¬†or¬†sad¬†or¬†sick?”¬†

The sheep do not choose their own pasture–the shepherd chooses for them. In the same way, the disciple does not choose his own lot in life–it is¬†appointed¬†for him. His Shepherd knows best what is good for him. The best is not always what is the most pleasant at the moment–but what is most profitable in the end.

Our Shepherd sometimes leads us through what seem to us dry and stony places–but they lead to the Heavenly pastures! And even along the way, He feeds us and comforts us with all a shepherd’s care. Never is our Shepherd nearer to us, than when we are in need or danger.¬†

“My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish–ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!” John 10:27-28



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