It is Very Christ-like to Lament and Learn Contentment

For Lord’s Day, September 3, 2017

Dear Saints,

After a long hiatus, we return to our excerpts from Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. Let us be good students to learn and become master artists.

Burroughs goes on to say that contentment, “is the quiet of the heart. All is sedate and still there.” Psalm 46:10, 107:29, and Matthew 8:26 come to mind about how God can calm the storms of our lives. However, that recognizes there are storms in our lives. Burroughs next explains that contentment is often:

I. To a due sense of affliction. God gives his people leave to be sensible of what they suffer. Christ does not say, “Do not count as a cross what is a cross”; he says, “Take up your cross daily”.

Frankly, a big part of what helps us fight and have the victory is that we are able to soberly acknowledge we are within many heavy battles until heaven. To do otherwise is to no deal with reality and possibly not really be Christians. Remember that Thomas Watson in his, The Art of Divine Contentment, spent time with “The resolving of some Questions” in chapter five, and the first question he then answered was this: “Whether a Christian may not be sensible of his condition, and yet be contented? Yes; for else he is not a saint, but a stoic.” Did you see what he just said? If you can’t openly suffer and lament, you very well may not be a Christian, but a pagan.

Watson went on to say, “Christ himself was sensible, when he sweat great drops of blood, and said, ‘Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;’ yet he was contented, and sweetly submitted his will: ‘nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt’ [Matt. 26:39]. The apostle bids us humble ourselves ‘under the mighty hand of God’ [1 Pet. 5:6], which we cannot do unless we are sensible of it.” (Incidentally, the third most listened to message on our SermonAudio page is the lecture in the series with Watson’s book on contentment that includes chapter 5 and learning you can and should be open about your suffering situation. That message was put up not long ago and I just began my eighth year here: seems like, similar to worry (the not so distant sermon on Matthew 6 is the second highest listened to message ever on our SermonAudio page) people need to know this; so do you and I.

In the same vein, Burroughs continues to explain what contentment is not:

2. It is not opposed to making in an orderly manner our moan and complaint to God, and to our friends.

3. It is not opposed to all lawful seeking or help in different circumstances, nor to endeavouring simply to be delivered out of present afflictions by the use of lawful means.

So beloved, as some of you are especially suffering right now, let us weep with you who weep openly as saints and not stoics: it helps alleviate the pain so we can suffer through to rejoice anew. It is not being discontent to lament.

Next time we will see what Burroughs says contentment is opposed to. For now, let us be sure we know what it is not opposed to so we are not wrongly suppressed, even by ourselves, from crying out for relief that we might get it in Christ, through Whom we can do all things as He strengthens us.

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant