Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness … so reads Psalm 112:4.
Thomas Watson quoted this Scripture in his lengthy exposition of the beatitude we look at tomorrow night, Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God (Matthew 5:9), in his chapter about the benefits of being children of God. In particular, Watson references the Psalm within his section, “God works all things for their good”, under the subsection, “Evil things work for good to God’s children.” Then he explains among other things what I trust several of us in our little church will find reassuring:
Sickness works for their good. It shall bring the body of death into a consumption [the using up of a resource]. ‘Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day’ (2 Corinthians 4:16) … When the body withers the soul of a Christian flourishes. How often have we seen a lively faith in a languishing body! Hezekiah was better on his sick bed than upon his throne. When he was upon his sick-bed he humbles himself and weeps. When he was on his throne he grew proud (Isaiah 39:2). God’s children recover by sickness. In this sense, ‘out of weakness they are made strong’ (Hebrews 11:34).
Then Watson discusses two other things that I believe our church can especially appreciate while we also prepare for the last beatitudes next week that seem to go together in Matthew 5:10-12:
Disgrace increases their grace. The husbandman by dunging his ground makes the soil more rich and fertile. God lets the wicked dung his people with reproaches and calumnies [slanders], that their hearts may be a richer soil for grace to grow in …
Persecution to God’s children works for good. The godly may be compared to that plant which Gregory Nazianzen speaks of. It lives by dying and grows by cutting. The zeal and love of the saints is blown up by sufferings. Their joy flourishes. Tertullian says the primitive Christians rejoiced more in their persecutions than in their deliverances.
That last sentence is amazing, but it echoes what Paul writes:
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)
Many of us have recently discussed the Bible’s doctrine of suffering and how too few Christians are willing to acknowledge it, never mind embrace it (a reading of chapters 1 and 2 of Job should prove a helpful corrective, especially 1:20-21 and 2:10 with what later follows in 13:15). We may indeed find special strength in Christ when He calls on us to fellowship with Him in weakness and sufferings (Philippians 3:10). For the darker our days in certain seasons, the brighter the Light of the World is reflected in our teary eyes.
Let us hold tightly to the Calvinist motto of the Protestant Reformation, Post tenebras lux: “after darkness, light.”
For Christ and His Kingdom,