THOU CONTENDEST WITH ME

“Shew me wherefore thou contendest with me.” —Job 10:2

Perhaps, O tried soul, the Lord is doing this to develop thy graces. There are some of thy graces which would never be discovered if it were not for thy trials. Dost thou not know that thy faith never looks so grand in summer weather as it does in winter? Love is too often like a glow worm, showing but little light except it be in the midst of surrounding darkness. Hope itself is like a star–not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity. Afflictions are often the black foils in which God doth set the jewels of his children’s graces, to make them shine the better. It was but a little while ago that on thy knees thou wast saying, “Lord, I fear I have no faith: let me know that I have faith.” Was not this really, though perhaps unconsciously, praying for trials? –for how canst thou know that thou hast faith until thy faith is exercised? Depend upon it, God often sends us trials that our graces may be discovered, and that we may be certified of their existence. Besides, it is not merely discovery, real growth in grace is the result of sanctified trials. God often takes away our comforts and our privileges in order to make us better Christians. He trains his soldiers, not in tents of ease and luxury, but by turning them out and using them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long mile with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs. Well, Christian, may not this account for the troubles through which thou art passing? Is not the Lord bringing out your graces, and making them grow? Is not this the reason why he is contending with you?

Charles Spurgeon

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19 Responses to THOU CONTENDEST WITH ME

  1. Pearl says:

    Hard words…I wish I could rejoice upon reading them, even though I know it’s true.

    I thank God, however, that I am more than just a soldier (and He is so much more than a drill sergent), but He is my Father, Abba.

    Have you heard Vernon McGee’s sermon called “The Dark Side of Love”? I did just a few weeks ago, and it’s still resonating within me. He talks about this very thing.

    Hope your week has been a good one, and that it’s been a warmer one at that!

    • Chris says:

      It’s always a blessing to hear from you, Pearl.

      So many think of God as a drill sergeant when He is, as you have noted, our Father; a kind and merciful one at that.

      Mr. Spurgeon suffered difficult depression at times that, I’m sure, gave him no emotional feelings about the love of God. Yet, he walked on in faith. He believed in the promises. I’m sure they had some form of medication at that time for depression, but it couldn’t have been as effective as the ones we have today. It makes Mr. Spurgeon’s masterful words even more impressive.

      I see why the called him “The prince of preachers.”

      I haven’t heard Vernon McGee’s sermon called “The Dark Side of Love?” Maybe if you return to blogging it can be included in a post.

      You can see that I’ve slowed my posting quite a bit. I’m finding little time for it lately. I think we both hit a bit of a wall at the same time.

      I think we’re past the snow days and we’ve seen the sun a few days lately. Thank you for your nice wishes.

      I hope that you and yours had a blessed weekend.

      • Pearl says:

        I didn’t know Spurgeon suffered depression until you mentioned it another time, recently. Knowing this certainly does give his words greater strength and weight. And, yes, I can identify with Spurgeon’s likening the believer to a soldier undergoing bootcamp. It is during such times I have to remind myself that He is my Father, and not a harsh, stern one, but one Who knows me better than I know myself, and allows afflictions (many of them my own doing or being) to drive me to Himself. It is then that I am comforted and set aright again.

        It bothers me to come across Christians who dismiss this affliction as somehow being out of favor with God, and thus, symptomatic of His standing apart, or being quenched. I wouldn’t wish depression on anybody. But I have to admit, that anyone who has the audacity to suggest such a thing would do well to experience an extended episode or two to learn a valuable lesson in compassion and tenderness.

        • Chris says:

          Thank you, Pearl.

          You have articulately expressed my beliefs about this issue.

          “It bothers me to come across Christians who dismiss this affliction as somehow being out of favor with God, and thus, symptomatic of His standing apart, or being quenched. I wouldn’t wish depression on anybody. But I have to admit, that anyone who has the audacity to suggest such a thing would do well to experience an extended episode or two to learn a valuable lesson in compassion and tenderness.”

          This is one of the best statements that I’ve ever heard on the subject of depression.

          Thank you for sharing, Pearl.

          May God richly bless you.

  2. […] THOU CONTENDEST WITH ME (via Wings of the Wind) February 21, 2011 by dawnmarie4 "Shew me wherefore thou contendest with me." –Job 10:2 Perhaps, O tried soul, the Lord is doing this to develop thy graces. There are some of thy graces which would never be discovered if it were not for thy trials. Dost thou not know that thy faith never looks so grand in summer weather as it does in winter? Love is too often like a glow worm, showing but little light except it be in the midst of surrounding darkness. Hope itself is like a star … Read More […]

  3. Diane says:

    Hi Chris-I came over from dawnmarie’s site. I really liked this quote. It is remarkable that this very topic of affliction is what the chapter from the book “Help Heavenward” by Octavius Winslow (chapter 6) that we are reading and discussing this week was about, entitled: “Trial, A Help Heavenward.” You can access it at the Octavius Winslow Archives and the chapter was posted on Feb. 15th. It is very comforting reading for sure. I also agree with what Pearl said about depression and we can insert any condition here. God bless!!

    • Chris says:

      Hi Daine,

      I feel like I know you already. I’ve read a few of your comments on dawnmarie’s and other’s sites. I am with you that any condition can be inserted into Pearl’s quote.

      Thank you for sharing the info about the “Help Heavenward” chapter. Honestly, I don’t have time to get to it at present. It does sound like a very interesting read.

      God’s blessings…

  4. Born4Battle says:

    Not that Spurgeon fellow again!

    “It was but a little while ago that on thy knees thou wast saying, “Lord, I fear I have no faith: let me know that I have faith.” Was not this really, though perhaps unconsciously, praying for trials? –for how canst thou know that thou hast faith until thy faith is exercised?”

  5. Kari says:

    Hi Chris,

    Wonderful words from Spurgeon as usual! It does make them so much more endearing knowing about his dibilitating depression. In fact it was Mr. Spurgeon who gave me hope with my own depression. I had been told too many times to count, like Pearl’s experience that depression was outright sin. I had to hide it from the world and keep the shame to myself, quietly pleading with God in my anguish to take this sin from my life. Although my depression has been greatly diminished since the Lord saved me, it still comes to me and keeps me unable to function for days on end. During these times, your words summarize it so perfectly:

    “I’m sure, gave him no emotional feelings about the love of God. Yet, he walked on in faith. He believed in the promises.”

    Amen, Brother Chris. There are times when we can pray no more than a whisper of “Please Jesus, help me.”

    Spurgeon said:
    “Afflictions are often the black foils in which God doth set the jewels of his children’s graces, to make them shine the better”

    Amen! Amen!!

    Thanks for another encouraging post Chris!

    PS we went from 70 yesterday to snow today 😦

    • Chris says:

      Hi Kari,

      Because I trust you guys, (Kari, Pearl, Dawnmarie, and Manny) and because most won’t care what I write here anyway, I want you to know that I couldn’t leave my bed most of last weekend. For those who have had depression, they know why. I had begun the downward spiral some time ago but it didn’t hit full force until very recently. I had no strength and worry filled my every thought. I couldn’t focus on my Bible.

      You see, I had decided almost a year ago to take myself off of medication because I was feeling better. There are different degrees of depression and I’ve had to learn once again that I am one of those people who needs to be on medication.

      All of my co-workers are Christian and fortunately all understand. One spent her career in the medical field. She is a very wise woman. Because she was in medicine, I asked if I could spend some time with her alone to discuss my situation. I had chosen to start back on the meds I was taking almost a year ago.

      I found that she had been taking anti-depressants her entire career and when she tried to go off of them at retirement, she found herself in the spiral that I’ve described.

      It has been a fight this week. I missed no work and I relied heavily on God’s Word. After only a few days back on the medication, I am feeling much better.

      Sadly, one of the first Christians I shared my situation with called me “Dopey.” I told him that he could call me dopey if he wanted to and that I was going to take the medicine that my doctor prescribed for me.

      I don’t usually hang my laundry out for the world to see. At this point, I really don’t care what anyone thinks about me. If I am able to help someone avoid my years of misunderstanding, it will be worth it. I know that many in our society are overmedicated today, particularly young people. That doesn’t mean, of course, that certain people can’t benefit greatly from modern medicine.

      And I’ve learned again to listen to my wife. She told me not to stop taking the medicine.

      I can’t even imagine what Mr. Spurgeon dealt with. I do know one thing. He believed, like we do, that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.

      “No more than a whisper of ‘Please Jesus, help me.'” I’ve just been there and am somewhat back. Unless one has been there, it can not be described.

      By the frowny face, Kari, I can see you feel the way about snow that I do. I think it particularly bothered me this year because we had more than normal and I was heading into my fog. From 70 to snow…that’s tough.

      God’s blessings…

      • Pearl says:

        You probably wouldn’t have believed this just five days ago, but your days are only going to get progressively brighter from this very point.

        How incredibly blessed you are to have a wise and loving wife, an intact family, and many caring friends who (whether they admit it or not) can most likely identify with you on some level. As you said, there are many degrees of depression.

        You are rare among men, Chris. It took incredible courage and strength to share this with us. I trust God will use it for His glory (and you may never know how on this side of heaven).

        • Chris says:

          Dear Pearl,

          I am so grateful for your gracious, kind, and understanding words. It is amazing how God has held things together in spite of it all.

          A few years back, at an incredibly low time, my wife reminded me of Romans 8:28. I really didn’t want to hear those words. Now, I realize how true they really are.

          Thank you for your encouragement. The mornings are rough but things are getting better each day. I actually had strength to get a few things done after I got home yesterday.

          Your friend…

  6. mannyr says:

    This post by Mr. Spurgeon brings to remembrance a lesson I learned as a babe in Christ. It began with the thoughts about how a plumber used to go about his work in days gone by. Back when plumbers used to work with cast iron pipes used mostly in drainage.
    The plumber would fire up a small furnace, which held a couple of sticks of lead or 50/50 solder. He would then join to pieces of pipe together by connecting them and tamping hemp weavings between the joints where the two pipes met. He would pack the hemp down and use the hemp to secure a good angle and proper alignment.
    Meanwhile the pot was glowing from the intense heat. When the scum had floated to the top of the liquid metal, he would brush the impurity off to insure a clean joint. He would then pour the liquid metal over the hemp, which would give way, and be totally consumed and forming the desired joint.
    I think we can see how this simple process brings about in us a desired effect from our Father. It is only when we are in the fire that a good result will come about. These fiery trials are designed to bring about the character of our awesome Lord Jesus Christ in us.
    a great post Chris. Thanks

    • Chris says:

      At one time I worked around many plumbers, Manny. Needless to say, the job of a plumber has gotten much easier. I did watch a craftsman do a very difficult plumbing job one time. He was slow and deliberate. His results were masterful.

      Your illustration is excellent. God disciplines those He loves. I know He loves all. Therefore, all must experience discipline. As I see it, the real question is what or who will a person turn to when the discipline comes? I believe most know the source of correction. I think Mr. Spurgeon has summed it up well. You have put a cherry on top, Manny.

      God’s blessings…

  7. mannyr says:

    Chris, brother i am well aquianted with depression. My mother who is 84 and lives with me has been on meds all her life due to a chemical defiency in her body.
    We know all the names attached to this condition.Sadly hurtful people use names to hurt others because of their own pain. Chris my mom lives a peaceful life on her meds, their is no shame or embrassment to be taken here. You are a man of God,and are an overcomer.
    You are not a second class Christian, there are none! Chris until our Lord says loud and clear “Chris” i have healed you and confirms it through others(wifey)keep taking meds.

    Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might!

    • Chris says:

      Hi Manny,

      Thank you for your kind words and for sharing the experience of your mother. Also, I would like to thank you for encouraging me in my faith and not being judgmental like some can be. I have believed in Jesus ever since I was a child. God has brought me closer to Him over the years. He has been so gracious with me in spite of myself.

      Thank you and may God bless you and your Mom.

      Your brother in Christ,

  8. Kari says:

    My Dearest Brother Chris,

    Thank you so much for sharing your trials. They sound so similar to my own. I think that God gives each of us a weakness or temptation so that we can be made strong in Him. In fact, when I read your comment, I broke out in tears because I know exactly what you are going through, I know it so deeply. These afflictions become so intertwined with who we are, at times when it arrives it is almost like a familiar blanket that will wrap us in solitude until it passes.

    God has a reason for our afflictions, Chris, even though we don’t understand them sometimes. We just have to remember that in all things, give thanks. It sounds as if the Lord has brought you through once again, through the help of your wonderful wife and family. Just remember Chris, when you can do nothing other than lie in bed, try and find the strength to just utter these words, “Jesus, help” and He will hide you in the shadow of His wings.

    May God be Merciful to you, Chris. Thank you so much for sharing this, it is such a help to me to know that there are many other Christians who suffer the same and we don’t need to hide in our shame. Sometimes it helps me to read the the desperation Jesus felt in the Garden as he prayed. He knows depression and feeling separated more than we could ever comprehend. Anytime you feel it coming on, email me with just the words “pray” and I will hold you up in my prayers until you are strong enough to pray once again. Believe me it does help.

    May His Peace and Joy fill you today Brother, I ask this in His Mighty Name, Jesus the Christ, Amen.

    • Chris says:

      Dear Kari,

      I am so thankful for Christian friends who understand. Christians have different trials, but it is always helpful when we know of someone who has experienced something similar. I am so appreciative of your kind words and I am so sorry that you have had the same experience.

      I couldn’t agree more with you about there being a purpose for our afflictions. I don’t know why we treat physical deficiencies of the mind differently than those of other parts of the body. I must admit that, in my situation, it has been a huge misunderstanding combined with my pride that has caused this to be much more of a problem than it ever needed to be.

      Your comment about Jesus’ experience in the garden really hits home. I can’t even begin to understand that kind of love, to choose to go through all of that, to take our sins upon himself. As you have so aptly stated, it was a separation more than we could ever comprehend.

      I so appreciate your offer for prayer. I now remember that I get your email with each comment. I will gladly take you up on your offer. The same offer for prayer stands from this end.

      Thank you for your gracious ending. May God also bless you greatly in His Holy Name.

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