Archive for the ‘brevity of life’ category

Letters of James Henley Thornwell.

July 18, 2011

From Mr. Robbins:

my Dear James: I have just received your letter,conveyning the afflictive intelligence of the loss of your dear babe.We are both much afflictited by this unexpecred calamity,and desire to join our sympathies in the sorrow of the parents.We can do so most deeply and affectionately.We know what it is to watch the gradual unfolding of the physical and intellectual faculities of a dear child,a first child; and in the full flood—-tide of our enjoyment,to have the dear object of our love snatched from our presence and our care. Such a loss is heart-rending indeed; and the mourner is disposed to attach little value to other blessings of life, for a season, since the greatest has been withdrawn. But a short time and a little reflection will dispel the blackness of the cloud, and show us a clear and serene sky beyond it.We do know,James that our Heavenly Parent, whose love to us surpasses that of a woman to the child of her bosom, is the immediate author of these bereavements.We do know that he never afflicts willingly, or grieves the children of men; always for some cause–great, good, adequate cause. What this cause is, it is our privilege and our duty to inquire.Sometimes it is wisely witheld from our search; but frequently; very frequently, it is within the reach of our reflection.It may be in mercy to the child, to rescue it from a more dreadful calamity which would have attended it in life; It may be in mercy to the parents to spare the more acute suffering at beholding an unworthy life, or an unworthy connection in life.Those were some of my own reflections when called on to mourn,as you now do; but, my dear James, I beleive most men can find—I think I found——-some unfaithfulness in myself, for which the visitation befell me; and with the blessing of God, I have endeavoured to reform it. Should this be your case, I pray most devoutly that He, whose grace is sufficient for us, may enable you to discover and cast it out. Rest assured of the sincere personal and Christian sympathy of yours.



Grief stricken pastor who lost six year old son.

May 12, 2011

Job,Charlie Brown,Suffering and…You.

November 9, 2010

In one of the Peanuts cartoons Charlie Brown is shown in one of his favorite roles—-that of a pitcher for his sandlot baseball teams.

In the first cartoon frame we see him on the pitcher’s mound in deep trouble.He looks toward the team at bat and exclaims, “Nine runs in a row——-good grief!”

Then he opens his mouth and begins to wail, “What can I do?”

Schroeder walks out to the mound, dressed in his catcher’s mask and chest protecter, as Charlie Brown says, “We’re getting slaughtered again,Schroeder…I don’t know what to do…”Why do we have suffer like this?”

Schroeder just stands there and very philosophically answers:”Man is born to suffer as the sparks fly upward.” Charlie Brown looks puzzled and says, “What did you say, Schroeder?”

Then Linus comes up from behind and says, “He’s quoting from the book of Job, Charlie Brown…seventh verse,fifth chapter.” Linus continues with, “Actually the problem of suffering is a very profound one,and…”

Before he can get another word out of his mouth, he is interrupted as Lucy chimes in”…If a person has bad luck, it’s because he’s done something wrong, that’s what I always say!!!”

Schroeder moves back into the little cluster of people surrounding Charlie Brown.

“That’s what Job’s friends told him,but I doubt it…” Again Schroeder is interrupted by Lucy, who shouts, “What about Job’s wife? I don’t think she gets enough credit.”

Schroeder continues: “I think a person who never suffers, never matures…Sufferring is actually very important…”

Lucy interrupts again and screams, “WHO WANTS TO SUFFER? DON’T BE RIDICULOUS!!!”

By this time the whole team is gathered around Charlie Brown,including a wide-eyed Snoopy, who is listening to every word.

One player says, “But pain is a part of life, and…” Another interrupts and says, ” A person who speaks only of the patiece of Job reveals that he knows very little of the book. Now the way I see it…”

Disgustedly Charlie Brown walks back to the pitchers mound, looks at his ball team,one by one, and says,“I don’t have a baseball team-I have a theological seminary!” {Peanuts by Charles M.Schulz}|

The next time you think you are having a bad day…Read Job chapter one.

The truth is….God’s children do suffer pain:Consider Job.The Bible declares that Job was perfect and upright and yet in one day there was a terroist attack and Job’s servants were slain and his oxen and donkeys were taken away. Job.1:15. Then without warning fire (lightening) fell from heaven and killed 7,000 sheep and more servants were destroyed.The Chaldeans came and stole 3,000 camels.And finally his seven sons and three daughters are gone forever…all in one day.

Then Job’s body was inflamed with a sore and angry swelling until his entire body was covered with one universal boil that stretched from his head to his feet.

His entire appearance changed until his face became grim and distorted.His skin was encrusted and constantly running with pus.{See Albert Barnes,Job,vol.1,Grand Rapids:Baker Book House,1949,p.116}

Here is a list of just some of the pain and suffering Job experienced:

1.His appearance was so hideous he was banished to the local garbage dump to sit in the ashes.Job.2:8.And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal;and he sat down among the ashes…garbage.

2.He could not sleep-he continually tossed until dawn.Job.7:4.When I lie down,I say,When shall I arise, and the night be gone? and I am full of tossing to and fro unto the dawning of the day.

3.He used dirt clods to cover his running sores.Job.7:5.My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; my skin is broken, and become loathsome.

4.Worms crawled in his flesh.Job.7:5a.My flesh is clothed with worms.

5.The thought of food made him sick.Job.3:24.For my sighing cometh before I eat,and my roarings are poured out like waters.

6. His pain was so intense that he was forced to bite his own flesh to tear out the boils.Job.13:14.Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in mine hand?

7.His flesh rotted before his very eyes.Job.13:28.And as a rotten thing, consumeth a garment that is moth eaten.

8. The itching never ceased.Job.2:8.And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.

9. He was flushed and red from weeping.Job.16:16a.My face is foul (red) with weeping.

10. His eyes were dark and recessed from lack of sleep.Job.16:16b.On my eyelids is the shadow of death.

11.His body was shriveled and wrinkled. Job.16:8. And thou hast filled me with wrinkles, which is a witness against me: and my leaness rising up in me beareth witness to my face.

12. Job was exhausted and alone. Job.16:7.But now thou hast made me weary: thou hast made desolate all my company.

13. His breath was foul. Job.19:17. My breath is repulsive to my wife.

14. He could barley breath. Job.9:18a. He will not allow me to take my breath.

15. His soul was bathed in bitterness. Job.9:18b. but filleth me with bitterness.

16. He was emaciated to the point that his bones clung to his skin. Job.19:20. My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh.

17. His flesh turned black.Job.30:30a. My skin is black upon me.

18. He was constantly burning with fever. Job.30:30b. My bones are burned with heat.

19. And the pain never ceased. Job.30:17. My bones are pierced in me in the night season: and my sinews take no rest.

20. He was deserted by his friends and mocked by his enemies.Job.16:9,10. Mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me.They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully; they have gathered themselves together against me.

21. He describes himself as a rag doll, grabbed by the neck and shaken to pieces. Job.16:12.I was at ease, but he has broken me asunder; he has also taken me by the neck and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his target.

22. He was as a target set up and shot through with arrows. Job.16:13.  His archers surrounds me round about, he splits my kidneys asunder, and does not spare; he pours out my gall upom the ground.

Job’s response was to worship God. He declared… Naked came I out of my Mother’s womb, and naked shall I return hither: the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. Job.1:21

“Anybody can say, ‘The Lord gave’ or ‘The Lord hath taken away’; but it

takes real faith to say in the midst of sorrow and suffering, ‘Blessed be the

name of the Lord.'” {Dr Constable}.