Christ is not only all in the sanctification of a true Christian, but all in his comfort in time present.
A saved soul has many sorrows. He has a body like other men–weak and frail. He has a heart like other men–and often a more sensitive one, too. He has trials and losses to bear like others–and often more. He has his share of bereavements, deaths, disappointments, crosses. He has the world to oppose–a place in life to fill blamelessly–unconverted relatives to bear with patiently–persecutions to endure–and a death to die.
And who is sufficient for these things? What shall enable a believer to bear all this? Nothing but “the consolation there is in Christ” (Phil. 2:1).
Jesus is indeed the brother born for adversity. He is the friend that sticketh closer than a brother, and He alone can comfort His people. He can be touched with the feeling of their infirmities, for He suffered Himself (Heb. 4:15). He knows what sorrow is, for He was a Man of sorrows. He knows what an aching body is, for His body was racked with pain. He cried, “All my bones are out of joint” (Ps. 22:14). He knows what poverty and weariness are, for He was often wearied and had not where to lay His head. He knows what family unkindness is, for even His brethren did not believe Him. He had no honour in His own house.
And Jesus knows exactly how to comfort His afflicted people. He knows how to pour in oil and wine into the wounds of the spirit–how to fill up gaps in empty hearts–how to speak a word in season to the weary–how to heal the broken heart–how to make all our bed in sickness–how to draw nigh when we are faint, and say, “Fear not: I am thy salvation” (Lam. 3:57).
We talk of sympathy being pleasant. There is no sympathy like that of Christ. In all our afflictions He is afflicted. He knows our sorrows. In all our pain He is pained, and like the good Physician, He will not measure out to us one drop of sorrow too much. David once said, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me, Thy comforts delight my soul” (Ps. 94:19). Many a believer, I am sure, could say as much. “If the Lord Himself had not stood by me, the deep waters would have gone over my soul” (Ps. 124:5).
How a believer gets through all his troubles appears wonderful. How he is carried through the fire and water he passes through seems past comprehension. But the true account of it is just this–that Christ is not only justification and sanctification, but consolation also.
Oh, you who want unfailing comfort, I commend you to Christ! In Him alone there is no failure. Rich men are disappointed in their treasures. Learned men are disappointed in their books. Husbands are disappointed in their wives. Wives are disappointed in their husbands. Parents are disappointed in their children. Statesmen are disappointed when, after many a struggle, they attain place and power. They find out, to their cost, that it is more pain than pleasure–that it is disappointment, annoyance, incessant trouble, worry, vanity, and vexation of spirit. But no man was ever disappointed in Christ.
Part 3 of 4
J. C. Ryle, Holiness, ch. 20: p 318-19 (online at www.CCEL.org. Published in the U.S. by Fleming H. Revell)
John Charles Ryle [1816-1900] was an Anglican minister and bishop of Liverpool, England. His method and style of writing was scriptural and expository.
Biblical allusions listed by paragraph:
1 Cor. 1:30 / John 16:33 / 2 Cor. 2:16; 3:5 / Prov. 18:24; Isaiah 53:3; Matt. 8:20; John 7:5; Matt 13:57 / Luke 10:34; Isaiah 50:4; Luke 4;18 / Matt. 9:36 / Isaiah 40:11 / John 6:35