The Sufferer's Wisdom and Peace
1 Peter 4:19
Why let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as to a faithful Creator.

Wherefore. The word carries us back to the whole series of thoughts on persecution and sorrow in the preceding verses, and, as it were, binds them all together, as a man might bind a bundle of twigs to make a standing-ground for himself and his companions on a black bog. The fagot is made up of these truths, namely - sorrow is no extraordinary anomaly; we share in the great Sufferer's afflictions; the purpose of them is our participation in the great King's glory, and that a joy exceeding the sorrow may be ours; that sorrow and shame will bring the Divine Spirit to overshadow us with his peaceful, dove-like wing, and to fill our souls with the radiance of a present God; that by it we may glorify the God who in it glorifies us; that the sharpest sorrows are but a light portion of the judgments which are to come upon all the earth, and are meant, not to destroy, but to purify and to separate from those on whom the final and fatal judgment of condemnation shall fall. Wherefore, for all this closely knit structure of calming and courage-giving truths, quiet confidence and uninterrupted diligence in holy deeds is the sorrowful heart's wisdom.

I. THE TRUE TEMPER OF THE CHRISTIAN SUFFERER. We can scarcely fail to hear in the words one more echo of the gospel story. Peter remembers, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit," and bids us all, in our lighter sorrows, in like manner commit our souls to God. The word is the same, and, though our Lord spoke of the act of death, and the apostle of the surrender in life, the temper and disposition are the same. Absolute confidence and complete submission were exhibited on the cross. [Nothing less is our duty and privilege. When sorrow comes, and not only in joy when it is so easy, we are to give up ourselves to God in the full abandonment of trust, as a man who has been fighting for hours against the storm reaches home at last, and, with muscles relieved from strain, gratefully flings himself down to rest. We are to put ourselves in God's care, as people in war flock into the forts, or as a householder will deposit his valuables in the hands of his banker, and then sleep careless of thieves or fire. God will take good care of all that is deposited in his custody. No violence can force his safe where his jewels are kept. If we recognize our own importance, and, abandoning all self-reliance, trust wholly to him, we shall suffer no harm and fear no foe; but if we will live in the open country, and refuse the shelter of his stronghold, because we either do not believe the peril, or think we can keep ourselves sale by our own arms, some night or other we shall be roused from dreams to see the faces of the savage foes all about our bed, and shall know the sharpness of their arrows and the implacableness of their hearts. These two things, which are but the positive and the negative sides of one - self-distrust and reliance on God - are the secret of all tranquility as well as of all safety. That heart may well be at rest which has shifted the responsibility of its defense from its own weak self to God. If we once can come to feel that it is more his business than ours to take care of us, a whole cloud of cares falls like some black precipitate to the bottom, and leaves the heart clear. Confidence is not enough without submission. To commit our souls to God includes "Do what thou wilt," as well as "Thou wilt do lovingly and well." Only when the will yields, and, though it may be with tears bitter as death, and lasting as life, accepts and conforms itself to God's will, do we really know the blessedness of faith. That which we no longer kick against no longer pricks us. The cell out of which we do not wish to go ceases to be a prison, and becomes an oratory or a study. The horse that plunges feels the restraint of his harness, which would not gall if he went quietly. "It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good," is a talisman which changes bitter into sweet, darkness into light, sorrow into content, and death into life.

II. THE PRACTICAL ACCOMPANIMENT OF THIS TEMPER. "In well-doing." There are many important truths suggested by that significant addition.

1. The familiar truth is suggested that our committing our souls to God does not mean that we are to fold our hands in indolence, which we misname trust. Neither are we to be so much engaged with cultivating the inward graces of faith and submission as to neglect the practice of common deeds of kindness. Our religion may become transcendental, a thing of spiritual experiences and emotions, and may be in danger of soaring so high as to forget the work which has to be done here. But it must have hands to toil as well as wings to mount. Peter was foolish when he desired to stay on the Mount of Transfiguration, for there was a poor devil-ridden boy waiting in the plain to be healed.

2. Here is a warning against giving up work because of sorrow. Ages of persecution have seldom been ages of service. All the strength of the Church has been absorbed in simple endurance. And in our private sorrows we are too apt to fling aside our tools in order to sit down, and brood, and remember, and weep. We hold ourselves excused from tasks which otherwise seem plain duties, because our hearts are heavy. There is no greater mistake than to give up work because of trouble. Next to God's Spirit, it is the best comforter. We feel our own burdens less when we try to help some heavy-laden brother to catty his. Our sorrow will be less and our faith more if we honestly set ourselves to the tasks, and especially to the tasks of doing good to others which lie at our hands.

3. All sin kills faith. "Well-doing" here may either mean beneficence or pure moral conduct. If the former, the remarks just made apply. If the latter, the principle is presented that such conduct must be associated with our committing of our souls to God, because every breach of the solemn law of right will weaken our power of faith and make a barrier between us and God. A small grain of sin will blind us; a little sin will prevent us from seeing God. A thin film of air hinders two bodies from uniting; a thin layer of sin keeps the soul from touching God. Any transgression will disturb our faith, and make it close its opening buds, as a bright cloud crossing the sun folds together the petals of some plants. There must be pure and noble deeds if there is to be any completeness and continuity of peaceful confidence; for, though faith is the parent of righteousness, righteousness reacts on faith, and a hand foul with evil is lamed thereby, so that it cannot firmly grasp the outstretched hand of Christ.

III. THE GROUND OF THIS CONFIDENCE IN THE ACTS AND CHARACTER OF GOD. He to whom we entrust our souls is their Creator. Therefore he is strong to preserve no less than to make, and therefore, too, he knows how much tension and strain the soul can bear, and will not overweight it, nor test it up to the breaking-point. As St. Paul says, he will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able. Where better can some precious work be put for safe keeping than in the maker's hands? Where can my soul be so secure and well than confided to the care of him who fashioned me, and measures my sorrows, knowing my frame and remembering that I am dust? He is a faithful Creator. The act of creation constitutes a relation between God and us, which imposes on 'him obligations and gives us claims on him. He has made a covenant with his creatures in the hour when he created them, which he keeps for ever. He is faithful, in that he ever remains true to himself, to his own past, and to his articulate promises. What he has been we can rely on, and be sure that, as we have heard, so shall we see, and that every act of mercy and succor in the past binds him to extend the same mercy and succor today and for ever. So all the old history flashes up into new meaning for every poor sorrowful, trusting soul. What he has spoken he will adhere to, and there are promises enough for us to build absolute confidence upon. No man shall ever be able to quote an assurance of his which turned out a rotten support, a rind without a kernel. He is a faithful Creator. Therefore, if we "commit the keeping of our souls to him in well-doing," with the ancient prayer, "Forsake not the work of thine own hands," we too shall be blessed with the answer given to a hundred generations, and fulfilled to every soul that rested upon it, "I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of." - A.M.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

WEB: Therefore let them also who suffer according to the will of God in doing good entrust their souls to him, as to a faithful Creator.

Why God Will have the Righteous with Such Difficulty Saved
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