Monday, January 21, 2019

Book Review: A Book of Comfort for Those in Sickness

A Book of Comfort for Those In Sickness. Philip Bennett Power. 1876/2018. Banner of Truth. 97 pages. [Source: Bought]

From the introduction: AMONGST the many wonderful truths which are spoken of God in the Bible, one of the most wonderful and beautiful is that He is a ‘God of comfort.’

A Book of Comfort For Those in Sickness is a gem of a book. It was originally published in 1876, it has since been reprinted a few times--most recently in 2018 by Banner of Truth.

Whether your sickness or suffering leaves you in bed or a not-so-easy easy chair, this book is for you.

There are twelve chapters:

Is God a God of Comfort at All?
Hindrances to Our Believing that God is a God of Comfort
Helps to Our Believing That God is a God of Comfort
Comfort In Pain
Comfort as to Our Being Useless
Comfort in Felt Unworthiness
Comfort To Counter Envious Thoughts About Others
Comfort In Our Being a Trouble to Others
Comfort In Death That the Affliction Will Be Long
Comfort in the Thought That We Shall Have to Be Alone
Comfort In Our Fears that We Shall Dishonor God At the Last
Comfort in the Thought of Our Departure Hence

While a few chapters really stick out as being MARVELOUS AND all kinds of WONDERFUL. Each chapter is a gem. A few chapters would even be super-relevant even if you weren't enduring pain and suffering.

I have lived with chronic pain for over twenty years. Some days are more painful than others. Some days I am more functioning than others. But pain is a constant in my life. A pain-free day is something that just doesn't seem possible this side of eternity. If by pain-free you mean totally and completely free from pain everywhere. This pain has filled me with hope and longing--longing for more of Christ, longing for his Coming, longing for the days when there will be no more pain, no more tears, no more suffering, no more trials, no more temptations.

I found this book to be EXCELLENT. I loved, loved, loved it.

From chapter one, "Is God a God of Comfort At All?"

  • Some people speak of God as though there is no comfort in Him at all; and that Jesus is to comfort us by enabling us to escape from God.
  • (1) Get firmly convinced that God, God Himself, God the Father, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our Father, is a God of comfort.
  • (2) Do not look anywhere else for your prime and first comfort. I do not deny that there is much comfort in friends, in happy feelings, in books, in many of the surrounding circumstances which prove alleviations in illness, but I want you to gather in your thoughts, and feel that the only sure comfort is with God.
  • (3) Expect comfort from God. Man’s expectation is generally a prelude to God’s action. We must first open our mouth, and then he will fill it.

From chapter two, "Hindrances To Our Believing that God is a God of Comfort"

  • The brighter any truth of God, the more does Satan endeavour to gather about it such mists as will obscure it, if indeed he cannot extinguish it altogether.
  • We must not be always suspecting God. If He says one thing to us, we must not think that He means another.
  • The past is dead and gone, and let the dead bury their dead. We cannot alter the bad and foolish past. It will always remain what it was. But what we are concerned with is that it should not carry itself on into the present, that it should not hurt us now, that it should be indeed ‘a past.’ Now, say to yourself: That is a bad old habit of mine, not looking to God. I must break with it altogether. Let Him now make all things new with me.
  • A discouraged man is always a weak man. This Satan knows very well, and therefore, he puts all sorts of discouragements in the way of our going to God for comfort.
  • I do not believe that God is well pleased with a man’s spending all his time in self-condemnation. 
  • I think God might well say to us, ‘What! all looking at self, and never a look at Me! What! look at Me, and never a bit of comfort out of it!
  • Are your sins of more importance than My grace? are they to occupy all the ground, and no room to be left for Me to act in comfort and blessing, the way in which I love to act?’
  • He will be more glorified by your being comforted than by your continually refusing to be comforted, or crying out that you are unworthy to be comforted.
  • Self-condemnation is very good in its place, but it is very bad out of its place; and it is out of its place, when we make it so big that it can blot out the comfort of God.
  • We may put a penny piece so close to our eyes as to hide out the sun itself; and we may put our little selves into such a position as to blot out God.

From chapter three, "Helps To Our Believing that God is a God of Comfort."

  • We must keep close to thoughts of God. We must meet Satan’s dark thoughts and suggestions about God with bright thoughts about Him.
  • I consider then God’s character as my great help to believing Him to be a God of comfort.
  • Bathe your thoughts then in God. Be rich in God – poor in yourselves, but rich in Him.

From chapter four, "A Comfort in Pain"

  • WE must not undervalue pain. It is a folly to say that we should be above being moved by it – that, as it is only for a time, we ought not to make anything of it.  So far from making nothing of pain, I make a great deal of it. I believe it to be a very real trouble, a very great trial, something which makes a great demand upon my faith and patience, and all my powers of body and mind too. I consider it an insult to anyone suffering pain to make light of his suffering.
  • Be persuaded, then, that God does not make light of your pain. I am comforted in my suffering in the thought that God knows all about it, and feels for it too.
  • Sympathy is a great balm; and you have the sympathy of God.
  • Therefore, be comforted in every pain with the thought that it has not escaped the observation of God, but has been noted by Him, has been felt for by Him. ‘My groaning is not hid from Thee.’
  • Pain is no vulgar thing when we bring it into connection with the sympathy of God.
  • Then, we come to the thought that Jesus suffered pain. Put that down as a second comfort; put it down as a great comfort.
  • Christ (God and man) in His human nature, made of nerves and flesh and blood, just like yours, every nerve the same, every muscle the same, actually felt great pain; probably greater than any you have ever felt. 
  • No doubt you have no pain but that He felt one like it, probably that very pain in its highest form upon the cross. I think it will help you to bear your pain, and will comfort you in it, if you come into fellowship with Christ in regard to it.
  • Another comfort in pain is the thought that all this shall have an end.
  • Every pain borne, is one pain less to bear.
  • And God would have us think of the end. He sets all the future blessedness before us, telling us of it before we attain to it, in order that it may cheer and encourage us on our way.
  • But no pain is aimless, if only we will see that it has a design. God means it to work blessing. He means that it should leave something behind it.
  • In pain, if properly borne, God can be pleased. But perhaps our pain may be so sharp, or may have worn us down so much that we cannot get the mind to work actively;
  • it is a comfort to think that God does not require us to think. He is no hard taskmaster. He only wills us to resign ourselves into His hands.
  • We may do that, and lean back in our chairs, or on our pillows, and feel that we are pleasing Him, though we can have no active thoughts about Him.

From chapter five, "A Comfort To Our Being Useless"

  • Many of the most pitiable forms of illness and suffering will be found not on beds at all, but on sofas, in arm-chairs. 
  • Yes! many of the sick ones who may claim this book as their own are even walking about, but they are hit sore, and can do nothing that looks worth much.
  • God has not taken away all opportunities of usefulness from you by setting you in a useless place.
  • God has something for you to do, and to be, in His kingdom.
  • Sometimes, we must look at things in relation to God and man; and sometimes to God alone.
  • Your patience, your resignation, your glorifying God in the fires, your word of good to others, all are useful, inestimably precious in the sphere of His kingdom in which He has now appointed you to act.
  • Sick man, you have a place of usefulness for God, not the old place, but His place – the place which is best in the eyes of the all-wise One.
  • Under any circumstances you may be of great use by being contented and cheerful in your trouble.
  • Those around you will see that God sustains you, and will bless Him and glorify Him, and perhaps learn to trust Him too.

From chapter six, "A Comfort in Felt Unworthiness"

  • ‘He is empty, then there is room for Me, and Mine – I will fill him.’
  • Christ will fill you with Himself, and when the Father sees the Son in you – all the Son – His own beloved Son, and not a bit of your own poor fallen self, and your own poor perishing things, He will be well pleased.
  • You shall never learn anything bad about yourself, without learning something correspondingly good about Christ.
  • Humble yourself – the lower the better; but always, with Christ before you. Humility without Christ will make you weak; with Him, it will make you strong. Our own unworthiness would crush us.

From chapter seven, "A Comfort to Counter Envious Thoughts..."

  • When I think how I am to be comforted under these circumstances, I ask myself, ‘Who has appointed me my present lot? Who has sent me my illness? Is God in this matter? Have I distinct views upon this subject?’
  • It is very unsafe to survey the lot of others, except in the light of God.
  • O my God, I will behold Thee in the sanctuary, not in the glass of my poor evil heart, where I would distort Thy image, but where Thou showest Thyself, and I believe that Thou art good, and good in the highest way to me. 
  • But that would not be enough. I must believe that infinite wisdom has been at work, to give me the thing best for me.
  • Why it is best for me I know not; enough that, if it come from God, it must be so.
  • I am comforted, because Thou who art all-wise and good hast settled my lot for me.
  • We stand before Him in our individuality; and He deals with us one by one. Therefore, if I believe in God, I comfort myself, in the assurance that I have the lot that is best for me. Why it should be best, as I have said, I cannot tell; that I must leave to God.
  • I comfort myself, O my God, with the belief that Thou appointest what is best for me – for me!
  • Very often, we have to hunt for our blessings to find them. They are none the worse for that;
  • In sickness, little mercies are as sweet and as really great to you, as very great things are to other people in health. 
  • Ask God to show you the good things incidental to your lot. Believe that there are some, and look for them.

From chapter eight, "A Comfort In Our Being a Trouble to Others"

  • Very often, our illness makes us sad on account of dear ones on whom we are made dependent, upon whom this illness must exercise some pressure.
  • To you, my sick friend, it may be a great burden even to hold up a book; it may tire you very much to walk a few steps; you cannot talk for five minutes at a time. But you must not measure your friends round about you by yourself. You and they are under different circumstances altogether;
  • Now, love makes no account of trouble; on the other hand, it rejoices in opportunities of showing itself, and counts many a thing which is troublesome in itself, no trouble at all because of the one for whom it is done.
  • God will reward those who minister to us, for what they do for His sake.
  • There is One who notes all they do, and who in His own time and way will reward them.
  • Faith is not always wanting to know.
  • God has appointed you to be the one to depend, even as He has appointed your kind friends to be the ones to be depended on.
From chapter nine, "A Comfort In Fear That The Affliction Will Be Long"

  • The first grand comfort will come from living by the day.
  • God meant us to live by the day. It was sin that brought in ‘trouble about the future,’ and distrust of God; and conjured up all sorts of fears and doubts and disbeliefs, to people the long weary time that it brings before the mind.
  • God has mercifully cut up life into short pieces, into days; if He had not done so, we must have been overwhelmed.
  • ‘God is often better to us than our fears,’
  • From the habit of being on the sofa, or in bed, or being confined to the house, all these trials will be far less than they would have been, if they came only at intervals, and for short periods.
  • It is also a comfort to think that, no matter how long our trial may be, it will never be too long for God’s intention.
  • Comfort yourself also with the assurance that the trial will not be too long for your blessing.
  • God will not send trial without the intention of blessing; therefore, where the trial is great, we may be sure that the blessing intended is great also.
  • Your trial cannot be longer than the lasting power of God’s faithfulness, and mercy, and patience, and power.
  • Believe that long afflictions have their peculiar meaning and blessing.
  • But come what may, my God will be faithful to me all through; and will hold me by my right hand, even to the end.

From chapter ten, "A Comfort in the Thought That We Shall Have To Be Alone"

  • Strengthen yourself in the honour of being in some small measure even as Christ was.
  • Human applause did not carry Jesus through anything; what He did, He did without it; and we may do the like.
  • Your circumstances are like His, He will make you, in your measure, like Himself.
  • Depend upon it, however little sympathy you may have, you have more than He had; however often you may be misunderstood, you are not misunderstood as often as He was.
  • Though we cannot enter into the depths of His suffering in any one form of it, still we can be in fellowship with it as regards ‘kind,’ and to be in fellowship with Him will brighten any lonely hour.
  • Encourage yourself in the thought of ‘a presence’, and that presence – your Father’s. And that presence you will never have without His voice speaking to you, and without your voice being drawn out to respond to His.
  • Our bodies, no doubt, are kept in the chamber of weakness; but our bodies are not ourselves.

From chapter eleven, "A Comfort In Our Fears That We Shall Fail and Dishonor God at the Last"

  • The unknown we almost always fear. And yet, with the unknown before us, we must always live.
  • There are two ways of meeting the unknown – either by not thinking about it at all, or by thinking and leaving it all to God.
  • God sees the future both of our weakness and of our temptation, and when they come, we shall find that He has come with them.
  • The Word of God is intended to be, not a fear-creating, but a fear-dispelling Word.
  • No doubt it warns us about ourselves – our own weakness, and nothingness, and entire liability to fall – but this is only to prevent our being set on the wrong basis of self and our own strength.
  • One of the uses of ‘the Word’ is to lift us out of self-strength, to put us on new standing-ground altogether, to take us out of the land of fears, and set our feet in the land of faith.
  • We must leave the future to God – our future must be a God-made, God-wrought one.

From chapter twelve, "A Comfort in the Thought Of Our Departure Hence"

  • One great comfort will be to believe that the best arrangement is made for everything connected with it. 
  • Not arrangement by ourselves, or any near and dear to us, but by the One who from the beginning has arranged all things.
  • He who is so active in all things connected with life, is equally active in all things connected with what we call Death.
  • We are going to our Father. We are provided for by our Father. Our Father is in all. We are going to a place, to friends, to life. A home, and not a grave, is the true ending of our earthly life; we depart not to be, as we say, ‘dead,’ but really to live.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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