Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Pastoral Letter

Letters Play Important Roles in our Lives The other evening I was reading in the section of letters in Robert Murray M'Cheyne's Memoir and found them to be so encouraging and helpful. At first I was reading and underlining (yes, my books get very marked up, but how else am I supposed to go back and find the good parts again?!:-), then I decided to share what I was reading in a post. That turned out to be too long so this week we'll going through a series of posts on some of his pastoral letters. I hope you'll find them as helpful as I did....I was left thinking what a blessed congregation he had - that they had a Pastor who cared so much about them.

                                                                                                                      Edinburgh, February 18, 1830

To all of you, my dear friends and people, who are and shall ever be followers of the Lamb, whithersoever He goes,

Your pastor again wishes grace and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. I long very much that this grace may again be given unto me to preach among you face to face "the unsearchable riches of Christ." "Oftentimes I purpose to come unto you, but am let hitherto." Still I feel it a great privilege that, even in my retirement, I can send you a word, to the end that you may be established. I feel as if one door was left open to me by the Lord... let me guide your thoughts to a passage of God's own word, and there I will speak to you as if I were yet present with you....

In Job 28:10 you will find these solemn words:

"Behold, I go forward, but He is not there ; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him: on the left hand, where He doth work, but I cannot behold Him: He hideth Himself on the right hand, that I cannot see Him. But He knoweth the way that I take when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."

You all know the afflictions which came upon Job....In all this Job sinned not with his lips. He blessed the hand that smote him : "What! shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord, and shall we not receive evil?" And yet when his troubles were prolonged, he knew not what to think. Learn how weak the strongest believer is; a bruised reed, without Christ, we are, and can do nothing. When Job's brethren dealt deceitfully with him, when he felt God hedging him in, —then clouds and darkness rested on his path, he could not unravel God's dealings with his soul ; then he cried,

"Show me wherefore Thou contendest with me!" He longed to get an explanation from God: "Oh that I knew where I might find Him ! that I might come even to His seat! Behold, I go forward, but He is not there ; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him : on the left hand, where He doth work, but I cannot behold Him : He hideth Himself on the right hand, that I cannot see Him."

You have here, a child of light walking in darkness—an afflicted soul seeking, and seeking in vain, to know why God is contending with him. Dear friends, this is not an uncommon case; even to some of you God's providences often appear inexplicable. I hear that God has been at work among you, and "His way is in the sea." He has tried you in different ways....Perhaps more than one trouble has come on you at a time,—wave upon wave, thorn upon thorn. Before one wound was healed, another came,—before the rain was well away, "clouds returned." You cannot explain God's dealings with you,—you cannot get God to explain them; you have drawn the Saviour's blood and righteousness over your souls and you know that the Father Himself loveth you; you would like to meet Him to ask,

"Wherefore contendest Thou with me?" "Oh that I knew where I might find Him!" 

My dear afflicted brethren, this is no strange thing that has happened unto you. Almost every believer is at one time or another brought to feel this difficulty : "God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me." Is it in anger, or is it in pure love, that He afflicts me ? Am I fleeing from the presence of the Lord, as Jonah fled? What change would he have wrought in me ? If any of you are thinking thus in your heart, pray over this word in Job. Remember the word in Psalm 46:

"Be still, and know that I am God." 

God does many things to teach us that He is God, and to make us wait upon Him. And, still further, see in verse 10 what light breaks in upon our darkness:
"But He knoweth the way that I take : when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."
Observe first, "He knoweth the way that I take." What sweet comfort there is in these words!

He that redeemed me

He that pities me as a father

He who is the only wise God

He whose name is love—

"He knoweth the way that I take"

 To be continued tomorrow....

Sharing with Soli Deo Gloria.


  1. I really like how the language of the pastoral letters flow with the KJV. :)

    Thank you for sharing, and YES! The part of us asking why do You contend with me is so true. I used to see it as me throwing an adult tantrum when I asked that same line of questioning, but now, I see the tantrum comes when I put demands on God for answers and relief from the trial.

    Thank you again.

  2. "But He knoweth the way that I take : when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." -- Coming forth as gold, that is what keeps me going in times of strife and seemingly unending troubles. Thank you for sharing this!

  3. Ah, one of my husband's favorite writers.


  4. "...one door left open to me from the Lord..." God always has a place for us--regardless of age. I like how even in retirement God gave him a beautiful ministry.




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"Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
Isaiah 55:6,8-1