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Out Of The Deep Of Suffering And Sorrow

Save me, O God, for the waters are come in even unto my soul: I am come into deep waters; so that the floods run over me.--Ps. lxix. 1, 2.

I am brought into so great trouble and misery: that I go mourning all the day long.--Ps. xxxviii. 6.

The sorrows of my heart are enlarged: Oh! bring Thou me out of my distress.--Ps. xxv. 17.

The Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping: the Lord will receive my prayer.--Ps. vi. 8.

In the multitude of the sorrows which I had in my heart, Thy comforts have refreshed my soul.--Ps. xciv. 17.


Each heart knows its own bitterness; each soul has its own sorrow; each man's life has its dark days of storm and tempest, when all his joys seem blown away by some sudden blast of ill-fortune, and the desire of his eyes is taken from him, and all his hopes and plans, all which he intended to do or to enjoy, are hid with blinding mist, so that he cannot see his way before him, and knows not whither to go, or whither to flee for help; when faith in God seems broken up for the moment, when he feels no strength, no purpose, and knows not what to determine, what to do, what to believe, what to care for; when the very earth seems reeling under his feet, and the fountains of the abyss are broken up.

When that day comes, let him think of God's covenant and take heart. Is the sun's warmth perished out of the sky because the storm is cold with hail and bitter winds? Is God's love changed because we cannot feel it in our trouble? Is the sun's light perished out of the sky because the world is black with cloud and mist? Has God forgotten to give light to suffering souls, because we cannot see our way for a few short days of perplexity?

No. God's message to every sad and desolate heart on earth, is that God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all; that God is Love, and in Him there is no cruelty at all; that God is One, and in Him there is no change at all. And therefore we can pray boldly to Him, and ask Him to deliver us in the time of our tribulation and misery; in the hour of death, whether of our own death or the death of those we love; in the day of judgment, whereof it is written--"It is God who justifieth us; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ who died, yea, rather who is risen again, who even now maketh intercession for us." To that boundless love of God, which He showed forth in the life of Christ Jesus; to that perfect and utter will to deliver us which God showed forth in the death of Christ Jesus, when the Father spared not His own Son, but gave Him freely for us; to that boundless love we may trust ourselves, our fortunes, our families, our bodies, our souls, and the bodies and souls of those we love.

National Sermons.

To all, sooner or later, Christ comes to baptise them with fire. But do not think that the baptism of fire comes once for all to a man, in some one terrible affliction, some one awful conviction of his own sinfulness and nothingness. No; with many--and those perhaps the best people--it goes on month after month, year after year. By secret trials, chastenings, which none but they and God can understand, the Lord is cleansing them from their secret faults, and making them to understand wisdom secretly; burning out of them the chaff of self-will, and self- conceit, and vanity, and leaving only the pure gold of righteousness. How many sweet and holy souls, who look cheerful enough before the eyes of man, yet have their secret sorrows. They carry their cross unseen all day long, and lie down to sleep on it at night; and they will carry it perhaps for years and years, and to their graves, and to the throne of Christ before they lay it down; and none but they and Christ will ever know what it was; what was the secret chastisement which God sent to make that soul better which seemed to us already too good for earth. So does the Lord watch His people, and tries them with fire, as the refiner of silver sits by his furnaces watching the melted metal till he knows that it is purged from all its dross by seeing the image of his own face reflected on it.

Town and Country Sermons.

By sufferings was Christ made perfect; and what was the best path for Jesus Christ is surely good enough for us, even though it be a rough and thorny one. Let us lie still beneath God's hand; for though His hand be heavy upon us, it is strong and safe beneath us too; and none can pluck us out of His hand, for in Him we live and move and have our being. He waits for us year after year, with patience which cannot tire; therefore, let us wait awhile for Him. With Him is plenteous redemption, and therefore redemption enough for us and for those likewise whom we love. And though we go down into hell with David, with David we shall find God there (Ps. cxxxix. 8; Ps. xvi. 10), and find that He does not leave our souls in hell, nor suffer His holy ones to see corruption. Yes, have faith in God. Nothing in thee which He has made shall see corruption; for it is a thought of God's, and no thought of His can perish. Nothing shall be purged out of thee, but thy disease; nothing shall be burnt out of thee but thy dross; and that in thee of which God said in the beginning, "Let us make man in our own image," shall be saved and live to all eternity. Yes, have faith in God, and cry to Him out of the deep, "Though Thou slay me, yet will I love Thee, for Thou lovedst me in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world."

Sermons--Good News of God.

Oh, sad hearts and suffering! Anxious and weary ones! Look to the cross of Christ. There hung your King! The King of sorrowing souls, and more, the King of Sorrows. Ay, pain and grief, tyranny and desertion, death and hell--He has faced them one and all, and tried their strength, and taught them His, and conquered them right royally. And since He hung upon that torturing cross, sorrow is divine, godlike, as joy itself. All that man's fallen nature dreads and despises, God honoured on the cross, and took unto Himself, and blest and consecrated for ever. And now blessed are the poor, if they are poor in heart as well as purse; for Jesus was poor, and theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the hungry, if they hunger for righteousness as well as food; for Jesus hungered, and they shall be filled. Blessed are those who mourn, if they mourn not only for their sorrows, but for their sins; for Jesus mourned for our sins, and on the cross He was made sin for us, who knew no sin; and they shall be comforted. Blessed are those who are ashamed of themselves, and hate themselves, and humble themselves before God, for on the cross Jesus humbled Himself; and they shall be exalted. Blessed are the forsaken and despised; did not all men forsake Jesus in His hour of need? And why not thee, too, thou poor deserted one? Shall the disciple be above his Master? No. Every one that is perfect must be as his Master.

National Sermons.

Never let us get into the common trick of calling unbelief Resignation; of asking, and then because we have not faith to believe, putting in a "Thy will be done" at the end. Let us make God's will our will, and so say, "Thy will be done." There is a false as well as a true and holy resignation. When the sorrow is come or coming, or necessary apparently for others' good, let us say with our Master in the Agony, "Not what we will, but what Thou wilt!" But up to that point, let us pray boldly.

Letters and Memories of Charles Kingsley.

Christianity heightens as well as deepens the human as well as the divine affections. I am happy; for the less hope, the more faith. God knows what is best for us. I am sure we do not. Continual resignation, I begin to find, is the secret of continual strength. "Daily dying," as Boehmen interprets it, "is the path of daily living."

Letters and Memories.

In all the trials of life, there is still some way of escape to be found if a man goes to the right place to look for it; and, if not of escape, still of compensation. I speak of that which I know. Of my own comfort I will not speak--of the path by which I attained it I will. It was simply by not struggling, doing my work vigorously where God had put me, and believing firmly that His promises had a real, not a mere metaphorical meaning, and that Psalms x., xxvii., xxxiv., xxxvii., cvii., cxii., cxxiii., cxxvi., cxlvi., are as practically true for us as they were for the Jews of old, and that it is the faithlessness of this day which prevents men from accepting God's promises in their literal sense with simple childlike faith.

Letters and Memories.

Do not fear the clouds and storm and rain; look at the bow in the cloud, in the very rain itself. That is a sign that the sun, though you cannot see it, is shining still--that up above, beyond the cloud, is still sunlight and warmth and cloudless blue sky. Believe in God's covenant. Believe that the sun will conquer the clouds, warmth will conquer cold, calm will conquer storm, fair will conquer foul, light will conquer darkness, joy will conquer sorrow, life conquer death, love conquer destruction and the devouring floods; because God is light, God is love, God is life, God is peace and joy eternal, God is without change, and labours to give life and joy and peace to man and beast and all created things. This was the meaning of the rainbow. It is a witness that God, who made the world, is the friend and preserver of man; that His promises are like the everlasting sunshine which is above the clouds, without spot or fading, without variableness or shadow of turning.

National Sermons.

If I did not believe in a special Providence, in a perpetual education of men by evil as well as good, by small things as well as great--if I did not believe that--I could believe nothing.

Letters and Memories.

Let us be content; we do not know what is good for us, and God does.

It is true, and you will find it true (though God knows it is a difficult lesson enough to learn) that there should be no greater comfort to Christian people than to be made like Christ by suffering patiently not only the hard work of every-day life, but sorrows, troubles, and sicknesses, and all our heavenly Father's corrections, whensoever, by any manner of adversity, it shall please His gracious goodness to visit them. For Christ Himself went not up to joy, but first He suffered pain. He entered not into His glory before He was crucified. Therefore those words which we read in the Visitation of the Sick about this matter are not mere kind words, meant to give comfort for the moment. They are truth and fact and sound philosophy. They are as true for the young lad in health and spirits as for the old folks crawling towards their graves. It is true that sickness and all sorts of troubles are sent to correct and amend in us whatsoever doth offend the eye of our heavenly Father. It is true, and you will find it true, that whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth.

All Saints' Day Sermons.

"That ye through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope," says St. Paul; and, again, "Let patience have her perfect work." But where are we to get patience? God knows it is hard in such a world as this for poor creatures to be always patient. But faith can breed patience, though patience cannot breed itself; and faith in whom? Faith in our Father in Heaven, even in Almighty God Himself. He calls Himself the "God of Patience and Consolation." Pray for His Holy Spirit, and He will make you patient; pray for His Holy Spirit, and He will console and comfort you. He has promised that Spirit of His--the Comforter--the Spirit of Love, Trust, and Patience--to as many as ask Him. Ask Him at His Holy Table to make you patient; ask Him to change your wills into the likeness of His will. Then will your eyes be opened; then will you see in the Scriptures a sure promise of hope, and glory, and redemption for yourself and all the world; then you will see in the blessed Sacrament of the Lord's body and blood a sure sign and warrant, handed down from hand to hand, from age to age, from year to year, from father to son, that His promises shall be fulfilled--that patience shall have her perfect work--that hope shall become a reality--that not one of the Lord's words shall fail or pass away till all be fulfilled.

National Sermons.

God means some good to you by prostrating you--perhaps He means by giving you blessings almost without your asking, to show you how little avails morbid sensitiveness or self-tormenting struggles. Synthetical minds are subject to this self-torture. Such a period in your life is the time to become again a little child! I do not mean a re-regeneration, but a permitting of the mind to assume that tone of calm wonder and infantile trust, which will allow all the innate principles within--all God-bestowed graces which have been bruised and bowed by the tempest, to blossom gently upwards again, in "the clear shining after rain"--a breathing time in life--not too much retrospection or self-examination--keep that for the healthy and vigorous hours of the mind--but a silent basking in the light of God's presence--a time for faith, more than for labour; for general and unexpressed, more than for particular or earnest prayer.

Letters and Memories.

Sorrow, though dreary, is not barren. Nothing need be barren to those who view all things in their real light, as links in the great chain of progression, both for themselves and for the universe. To us, all Time should seem so full of life; every moment the grave and the father of unnumbered events and designs in heaven and earth, revealing the mind of our God Himself--all things moving smoothly and surely, in spite of apparent checks and disappointments, towards the appointed End!

Letters and Memories.

In all the chances and changes of this mortal life, it is our one comfort to believe firmly and actively in the changeless kingdom, and in the changeless King. This alone will give us calm, patience, faith, and hope, though the heavens and the earth be shaken around us. For so only shall we see that the kingdom, of which we are citizens, is a kingdom of light, and not of darkness; of truth, and not of falsehood; of freedom, and not of slavery; of bounty and mercy, and not of wrath and fear; that we live and move and have our being, not in a "Deus quidam deceptor," who grudges His children wisdom, but in a Father of Light, from whom comes every good and perfect gift; who willeth that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. In His kingdom we are; and in the King whom He has set over it we can have most perfect trust. For us that King stooped from heaven to earth; for us He was born, for us He toiled, for us He suffered, for us He died, for us He arose again, for us He sits for ever at God's right hand. And can we not trust Him? Let Him do what He will. Let Him lead us whither He will. Wheresoever He leads must be the way of truth and life. Whatsoever He does, must be in harmony with that infinite love which He displayed for us upon the Cross. Whatsoever He does must be in harmony with that eternal purpose by which He reveals to men God their Father. Therefore, though the heaven and the earth be shaken around us, we will trust in Him; for we know that He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.

National Sermons.

If we believe that God is educating men, the when, the where, and the how, are not only unimportant, but considering Who is the teacher, unfathomable to us; and it is enough to be able to believe that the Lord of all things is influencing us through all things.

Essays.

Provided we attain at last to the truly heroic and divine life, which is the life of virtue, it will matter little to us by what strange and weary ways, or through what painful and humiliating processes, we have arrived thither. If God has loved us, if God will receive us, then let us submit loyally and humbly to His law--"Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth."

All Saints' Day Sermons.

I believe that the wisest plan of bearing sorrow is sometimes not to try to bear it--as long as one is not crippled for one's every-day duties--but to give way to sorrow, utterly and freely. Perhaps sorrow is sent that we may give way to it, and, in drinking the cup to the dregs, find some medicine in it itself which we should not find if we began doctoring ourselves, or letting others doctor us. If we say simply, "I am wretched, I ought to be wretched;" then we shall perhaps hear a voice, "Who made thee wretched but God? Then what can He mean but thy good?" And if the heart answers impatiently, "My good? I don't want it, I want my love!" perhaps the voice may answer, "Then thou shalt have both in time."

Letters and Memories.

After all, the problem of life is not a difficult one, for it solves itself--so very soon at best--by death. Do what is right, the best way you can, and wait to the end to know. . . .

If, in spite of wars, and fevers, and accidents, and the strokes of chance, this world be green and fair, what must the coming world be like? Let us comfort ourselves as St. Paul did (in infinitely worse times), that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed. It is not fair to quote one text about the creation groaning and travailing without the other, that it will not groan and travail long. Would the mother who has groaned and travailed and brought forth children--would she give up those children for the sake of not having had that pain? Then believe that the day will come when the world, and every human being in it who has really groaned and travailed, would not give up its past pangs for the sake of its then present perfection, but will look back on this life, as the mother does on past pain, with glory and joy.

Letters and Memories.

I write to you because every expression of human sympathy brings some little comfort, if it be only to remind such as you that you are not alone in the world. I know nothing can make up for such a loss as yours. [26: Death of a Husband.] But you will still have love on earth all round you; and his love is not dead. It lives still in the next world for you, and perhaps with you. For why should not those who are gone, if they are gone to their Lord, be actually nearer us, not further from us, in the heavenly world, praying for us, and it may be, influencing and guiding us in a hundred ways, of which we in our prison-house of mortality cannot dream?

Yes, do not be afraid to believe that he whom you have loved is still near you, and you near him, and both of you near God, who died on the Cross for you. That is all I can say. But what comfort there is in it, if one can give up one's heart to believe it!

Letters and Memories.

. . . All that I can say about the text, Matt. xxii. 30 [of Marriage in the world to come], is that it has nought to do with me and my wife. I know that if immortality is to include in my case identity of person, I shall feel for her for ever what I feel now. That feeling may be developed in ways which I do not expect; it may have provided for it forms of expression very different from any which are among the holiest sacraments of life. Of that I take no care. The union I believe to be eternal as my own soul, and I leave all in the hands of a good God.

Is not marriage the mere approximation to a unity that shall be perfect in heaven? And shall we not be reunited in heaven by that still deeper tie? Surely if on earth Christ the Lord has loved--some more than others;--why should not we do the same in heaven, and yet love all?

Do I thus seem to undervalue earthly bliss? No! I enhance it when I make it the sacrament of a higher union! Will not this thought give more exquisite delight; will it not tear off the thorn from every rose; and sweeten every nectar cup to perfect security of blessedness in this life, to feel that there is more in store for us--that all expressions of love here, are but dim shadows of a union which will be perfect if we but work here, so as to work out our own salvation?

Letters and Memories.

That is an awful feeling of having the roots which connect one with the last generation seemingly torn up, and having to say, "Now I am the root, I stand self-supported, with no other older stature to rest on." [30: Death of a Parent.] But this one must believe that God is the God of Abraham, and that all live to Him, and that we are no more isolated and self-supported than when we were children on our mother's bosom.

Letters and Memories.

Believe that those who are gone are nearer us than ever; and that if, as I surely believe, they do sorrow over the mishaps and misdeeds of those whom they leave behind, they do not sorrow in vain. Their sympathy is a further education for them, and a pledge, too, of help, and, I believe, of final deliverance for those on whom they look down in love.

Letters and Memories.

"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord; for they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them."

They rest from their labours. All their struggles, disappointments, failures, backslidings, which made them unhappy here, because they could not perfectly do the will of God, are past and over for ever. But their works follow them. The good which they did on earth--that is not past and over. It cannot die. It lives and grows for ever, following on in their path long after they are dead, and bearing fruit unto everlasting life, not only in them, but in men whom they never saw, and in generations yet unborn.

Good News of God--Sermons.

"A little while and ye shall not see me, and again a little while and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father," said our Lord when speaking of His own death to His sorrowing disciples. And if it be so with Christ, then is it so with those who are Christ's, with those whom we love. They are the partakers of His death, therefore they are the partakers of His resurrection. Let us believe that blessed news in all its fulness, and be at peace. A little while and we see them, and again a little while and we do not see them. But why? Because they are gone to the Father--to the source and fount of all life and power, all light and love, that they may gain life from His life, power from His power, light from His light, love from His love--and surely not for nought. Surely not for nought. For, if they were like Christ on earth, and did not use their powers for themselves alone, if they are to be like Christ when they shall see Him as He is, the more surely will they not use their powers for themselves, but as Christ uses His, for those they love? Surely, like Christ they may come and go even now unseen. Like Christ they may breathe upon our restless hearts and say, "Peace be unto you." And not in vain--for what they did for us when they were yet on earth they can do more fully now that they are in heaven.

They may seem to have left us, and we may weep and lament. But the day will come when the veil shall be taken from our eyes and we shall see them as they are--with Christ and in Christ for ever--and remember no more our anguish, for joy that another human being has entered into that one true, real, and eternal world, wherein is neither disease, disorder, change, decay, nor death, for it is none other than the bosom of the Father.

All Saints-Day Sermons.

And what if earthly love seems so delicious that all change in it would seem a change for the worse, shall we repine? What does reason (and faith, which is reason exercised on the invisible) require of us, but to conclude that if there is change, there will be something better there?

Letters and Memories.

What is the true everlasting life--the life of God and Christ--but a life of love, a life of perfect active, self-sacrificing goodness, which is the one only true life for all rational beings, whether on earth or in heaven--in heaven as well as on earth. Form your own notions as you will about angels and saints in heaven, (for every one must have some notions about them,) and try to picture to yourself what the souls of those whom you have loved and lost are doing in the other world; but bear this in mind, that if the saints in heaven live the everlasting life, they must be living a life of usefulness, of love, and of good works.

There are those who believe what we are too apt to forget, and that is that the everlasting life cannot be a selfish and idle life, spent only in being happy oneself. They believe that the saints in heaven are not idle--that they are eternally helping mankind, doing all sorts of good offices for those souls who need them. I cannot see why they should not be right. For if the saints' delight was to do good on earth, much more will it be to do good in heaven. If they helped poor sufferers, if they comforted the afflicted here on earth, much more will they be willing to help and comfort them, now that they are in the full power, the full freedom, the full love and zeal of the everlasting life. If their hearts were warmed and softened by the fire of God's love here, how much more there! If they lived God's life of love here, how much more there, before the throne of God and the face of Christ!

And if any one shall say that the souls of good men in heaven cannot help us who are here on earth, I answer--When did they ascend into heaven to find out that? If they had ever been there, let us be sure they would have had better news to bring home than this, that those whom we have honoured and loved on earth have lost the power which they used once to have of comforting us who are struggling below.

No, we will believe--what every one who loses a beloved friend comes sooner or later to believe--that those whom we have honoured and loved, though taken from our eyes, are near to our spirits; that they still fight for us under the banner of their Master, Christ, and still work for us by virtue of His life of love, which they live in Him and by Him for ever.

Pray to them, indeed, we need not, as if they would help us out of any self-will of their own. They do God's will, and not their own; and go on God's errands, and not their own. If we pray to God our Father Himself, that is enough for us. And what shall we pray? "Father, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

Good News of God, Sermons.

Is not that one thought that our beloved ones sleep in Christ Jesus enough? They sleep in Jesus, and therefore in infinite tenderness, sympathy, care, and love. They sleep in Jesus; and He is the Life, and therefore they sleep in Life. They sleep in Jesus; and He is the Light, and therefore they sleep in Light. They sleep in Jesus; and He is Love, and therefore they sleep in Love. And what better? This is better--that they who sleep in Jesus must surely awaken. For, as it is written, His is a quickening, awakening, life-giving Spirit, and so to sleep in Him is to sleep in the very fount and core of life and power. If from Jesus all our powers and talents come here on earth, surely He will give us more and nobler, when we sleep in Him, and wake in Him to a risen and eternal life. And more, it is written that them that sleep in Jesus will He bring with Him. At the last day we shall see face to face those we loved--and before that--oh! doubt it not. Oftentimes when Christ draws near our spirits He comes not alone, but loving souls, souls whom we knew in the flesh on earth, bear up His train, and hover near our hearts and join their whispers to the voice and inspiration of Him who loved us, and who will guide us with counsel here, and after that receive us into glory, where we shall meet those beloved ones--not as our forefathers dreamed, as meagre shadows flitting through dreary and formless chaos--but as we knew them once--the body of the flesh alone put off, but the real body, the spiritual body to which flesh and blood was but a husk and shell, living and loving more fully, more utterly, than even before, because it is in Christ who is the fount of life, and freed in Him for ever from hell and death.

And if you wish for a sign that this is so, come to holy communion and take the bread and wine as a sign that your bodies and theirs, your souls and theirs, are fed from the same fount of everlasting life--the dead and risen and ever living body of Christ Jesus, which He has given to be the life of the world.

MSS. Sermons.

We know that afflictions do come--terrible bereavements, sorrows sad and strange. There they are, God help us all. But from whom do they come? Who is Lord of life and death? Who is Lord of joy and sorrow? Is not that the question of all questions? And is not the answer the most essential of all answers? It is the Holy Spirit of God; the Spirit who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; the Spirit of the Father who so loved the world, that He spared not His only begotten Son; the Spirit of the Son who so loved the world that He stooped to die for it upon the Cross; the Spirit who is the Comforter, and says, "I have seen thy ways and will heal thee, I will lead thee also, and restore comforts to thee and to thy mourners. I speak peace to him that is near and to him that is afar off, saith the Lord; and I will heal him." Is not that the most blessed news, that He who takes away, is the very same as He who gives? That He who afflicts is the very same as He who comforts?

All Saints-Day Sermons.

Oh! blessed news, that God Himself is the Comforter. Blessed news, that He who strikes will also heal; that He who gives the cup of sorrow will also give the strength to drink it. Blessed news, that chastisement is not punishment, but the education of a Father. Blessed news, that our whole duty is the duty of a child--of the Son who said in His agony, Father, not my will, but Thine be done. Blessed news, that our Comforter is the Spirit who comforted Christ the Son Himself; who proceeds both from the Father and the Son, and who will tell us that in Christ we are really and literally the children of God, who may cry to Him in our extreme need, "Father," with full understanding of all that that royal word contains.

All Saints-Day Sermons.


Charles Kingsley

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