The Savior's Sympathy with the Afflicted
By John Eadie
It is in the period of suffering and bereavement, that the soul is brought into nearer contact with God, and knows Him, not from what it believes — but from what it enjoys; not from what it has been taught — but from what it has experienced. We are all aware that our Lord is named the "Man of Sorrows," and we are taught that He is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities;" but we do not adequately comprehend the truth, until, under the pressure of infirmity, we enjoy His sympathy; and then we can say: now we know it — for we have felt it.
There is truly a sublime meaning in the words which He spoke to Martha, "I am the Resurrection and the Life;" but only those circumstanced as she was — the grave having closed over her brother — can really enter into their nobility and triumph. He who has never felt the pang or desolation of bereavement — whose heart has never been pierced by the barbed and mortal shaft — who has never gazed on the corpse of parent, brother, or child — who has never made one of the group of weeping mourners that stand, (inexpressible solemnity!) by the grave, and feel a sad sinking of heart as they leave behind them, in dust and darkness, that form which they shall not see again until Christ descends and the trumpet sounds — such a scatheless and untried believer cannot, though he would, unfold to himself the sweetness and comfort of the saying, "I am the Resurrection and the Life."
There is no Christian heart that does not hold by the pledge, "My grace is sufficient for you;" but it is only when "weakness" overpowers it, that it can really find that His "strength is made perfect." Without affliction — the purest and closest knowledge of God could never be acquired; a veil would still seem to be upon Him. The glory that surrounds Him might dazzle us; but we would still be comparative strangers to the tenderness and love of His heart.
Still at a distance from Him, we would indeed trust Him; but when He lays His hand upon us and brings us nearer Him — then do we acquaint ourselves with His loving-kindness, no longer by report — but by tasting it. You may have seen the solar beam thrown back in yellow splendor from the crystal rocks, as they glistened with gold — but now you have found and gathered the precious ore! It is one thing to admire the beauty of His pavilion — and another thing to be in it; one thing to know Him from what He has said — and another to know Him in what He has done. Surely experimental intimacy far excels theoretic information; and it is gained only in the school of affliction.
Did, therefore, the friendship of Christ secure us against suffering — it would shade from our view these prime and happy lessons. But Christ is anxious that we learn them, and therefore, though he loves us — He permits us to suffer, that we may yearn for a fuller sense of His presence — and penetrating into His heart — know, because we feel, the love and power of our Beloved and Friend!