A Sickbed Often Teaches More Than A Sermon

Luther said that he could never rightly understand some of the Psalms, till he was in affliction. Affliction teaches what sin is. In the word preached, we hear what a dreadful thing sin is, that it is both defiling and damning, but we fear it no more than a painted lion; therefore God lets loose affliction, and then we feel sin bitter in the fruit of it. A sick-bed often teaches more than a sermon. We can best see the ugly visage of sin in the glass of affliction. Affliction teaches us to know ourselves. In prosperity we are for the most part strangers to ourselves. God makes us know affliction, that we may better know ourselves. We see that corruption in our hearts in the time of affliction, which we would not believe was there. Water in the glass looks clear, but set it on the fire, and the scum boils up. In prosperity, a man seems to be humble and thankful, the water looks clear; but set this man a little on the fire of affliction, and the scum boils up — much impatience and unbelief appear. “Oh,” says a Christian, “I never thought I had such a bad heart, as now I see I have; I never thought my corruptions had been so strong, and my graces so weak.

Thomas Watson, A Divine Cordial (Kindle Edition, location 220)

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  • http://ericgwan.wordpress.com/ Eric G Wan

    Thanks Aaron for sharing this. Afflictions and trials are really what we need so we can become more spiritually mature in our Christian lives. They really either break us or make us. We have to remember that God is putting them in our lives to make us miserable but that we may be tested and be more like Christ and just have a taste of the depths of suffering He went through for us.

    It would be easy to have everything go smoothly along our lives but how else can we “best see the ugly visage of sin in the glass of affliction”? Thanks for this illustration of the scum boiling up in fire.

    I’m always reminded of these verses when I encounter hard times.

    James 1:2 tells us to “Count it all joy… when you meet trials of various kinds.”
    1Pet 1:7 “so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

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  • http://profiles.google.com/jonathanbatteas jonathan batteas

    totally agree. It has often seemed to me that the only time my mind is clear of all extraneous matters, and focus wholly upon what really matters is when I’m under the affliction of sickness.
    Really like your blog. Thanks for this.
    “If we would only become when well, the men we promised to become when we were sick.” Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, VII, 26