—for when I am weak, then am I strong.–2 Corinthians 12:10
Soon after receiving Christ as my Savior I surrender to preach and began reading everything I could about preachers. One of the first books I read was the biography of Charles Spurgeon. I couldn’t put it down. His story amazed me, and the older I get the more amazed I am.
Spurgeon has been called “The Prince of Preachers”. He is read by more preachers than any other man. I am amazed by his great abilities and accomplishments. But the thing that amazes me most is that he was able to do all those things in spite of great adversity. Sadly it is that part of his life that many people are not aware of.
Spurgeon suffered from gout, rheumatism and Bright’s disease. He spent about one third of his last 22 years out of the pulpit suffering or convalescing. Then there was the depression which he battled from the time he was 24. He said, “My spirits were sunken so low that I could weep by the hour like a child, and yet I know not what I wept for”. He considered this to be his “worst feature” and was ashamed of it. Add to that the fact that his wife was in ill health, the pressure of pastoring the world’s largest church, running an orphanage, and the critics who hounded him continually and you wonder how he was able to do anything. Yet he remained faithful to the end and left behind 63 volumes of sermons–the largest set of books by a single author in the history of Christianity. Yet, I suspect that some churches today would have fired him for missing so much time from the pulpit. Thankfully his folks realized what a treasure they had for a pastor and supported him throughout his ministry.
So when I tell you that I am amazed by Charles Spurgeon you can see why. Maybe you’re thinking, “Wow! There’s no telling what he might have accomplished had he been healthy and not had all these problems”. I suppose you can look at it that way, but I tend to think that he would not have accomplished half of what he did had he been completely free from these problems. Our problem is that we don’t realize that the things working against us are actually working for us. Listen to what Spurgeon told his students–“I dare say the greatest earthly blessing that God can give to any of us is health, with the exception of sickness—if some men, that I know of could only be favoured with a month of rheumatism, it would, by God’s grace mellow them marvelously”.
It would take many hours to explore this subject in depth, but it is not my purpose to study the life of Spurgeon. My only purpose is to help you see that there is hope, that our burdens can make us better rather than bitter, that God can help you and use you regardless of how severe your trials might be. The worst thing that happens in your life might be the best thing for the Kingdom of God. If you don’t believe it just look at the record preserved for us in history. Spurgeon is just one example. History teaches us that those who have been used the most by God have also suffered the most. They could have never been what they were without it. And there is no better example of that than Paul who said,”when I am weak, then I am strong”.
When problems knock you off your feet and drive you to your knees, you are then in the best position to be used of God. Think about it!