Last time we looked at three things that Christian contentment is not opposed to. Today we will see the 8 things that it is opposed to (p. 3-4) and then have a brief word on each. Christian contentment is opposed to:
- Murmuring and [complaining] at the hand of God
- Vexing and fretting (a degree beyond murmuring)
- The spirit being highly agitated so that it becomes unruly
- An unstable and unsettled spirit whereby it is distracted from its duty to God and others
- Distracting, heart-consuming cares
- Sinking discouragements
- Sinful shiftings and negligence so as to seek relief and help
- Desperate risings of the heart against God by way of rebellion
It appears that each of these points that Burroughs mentions has a couple of root exhortations. You cannot claim Christian contentment if when given a difficult trial you murmur and complain towards God and it so agitates you that you are consumed and distracted by it. If it is taking all of your heart and your focus so that you eyes are constantly fixed on this affliction then you are not practicing Christian contentment. Also, we see that if the affliction is bringing you to sinful rebellion whether through active rebellion or negligence. You cannot claim Christian contentment while you are engaged in sinful rebellion so as to relieve the affliction. A biblical example that Burroughs gives is the story of Saul running to the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28). Perhaps a more contemporary example would be a man who has his finances afflicted and to relieve his sufferings he steals, gambles, and cheats. He pursues dishonest gain to relieve his affliction.
One of Burroughs points that you might have contention with is #6, "sinking discouragements". Is Burroughs saying that the Christian is not allowed to struggle mightily with depression? What about Spurgeon--was he sinning in his bouts with melancholy? What specifically did Burroughs mean? We will let Burroughs speak--"God would have us to depend on Him though we do not see how the thing may be brought about; otherwise we do not show a quiet spirit. Though an affliction is on you, do not let your heart sink under it. So far as your heart sinks and you are discouraged under affliction, so much you need to learn this lesson of contentment".What Burroughs seems to be referring to is the type of person who is distrusting God during times of affliction. When trouble is brought about they are brought to despair instead of hoping in God. It does not seem that Burroughs is specifically addressing the type of melancholy that plagued folks like Spurgeon.
What then can we learn from today's reading? First of all, I believe the Lord is calling us to trust Him in the midst of our afflictions. We should hear the exhortation of James to the dispersed brothers and sisters. "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds..." Secondly, the Lord is calling us to quietly submit to everything that comes from His hand, all the while trusting in His goodness. When dealt every blow we must cling to the promise that God works all things for good. We must have a big view of God. We must be quieted as Job was, "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted...I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know...I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes." You can feel Job putting his hand over his mouth as he utters these words. Let us do the same. Make our requests known to the Lord, but humbly rest under His sovereign hand of goodness.