Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord! behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.—John 11:3, 4.
My soul! ponder these words. It may be said now, as it was then, Lord! behold he whom thou lovest, yea, many our Lord Jesus loveth, are at this present hour sick! Who shall calculate the number? Who shall mark down the tears of the sorrowful of the Lord’s people? But Jesus knows them all; yea, appoints all; and he it is of whom it is said, “He putteth their tears into his bottle: Are not these things noted in thy book?” These words suggest another sweet thought. The sorrowful sisters, in their message to the Lord Jesus, did not tell him that one whom they loved was sick, but one whom Jesus loved. There could be no doubt of their love to their brother; but their application to Jesus was on account of his love. My soul! do not overlook this. It is the most blessed and the most powerful of all arguments in prayer, when we come to a throne of grace for those that are near and dear to us, when we can and do tell the Lord, that they for whom we seek his mercy are the objects of his love. The observation of our Lord, on receiving the message, is most delightful. Sit down, this evening, and ponder it well. It is what may with safety be applied to every case, and every exercise of the Lord’s people, in all their eventful pilgrimage through life, whether in one trial or another. “This sickness,” this sorrow, this temptation, be it what it may, “is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” Now, my soul, bring it to the proof. Every rod of Jesus hath a voice, and speaks as well as corrects; and when at any time he exerciseth it, this is the invariable language: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” And when the voice is heard, and the soul is thereby brought to listen to the Redeemer, then the close of the dispensation proves that it is not indeed unto death but for the divine glory. So that, let the exercise be what it may, we then see Jesus in it. His wisdom sent it, his love is in it, and his strength will carry the believer through it: yea so much of the Lord’s presence will accompany every step we take during the dark hour, that, dark as things are around, there will be constant daylight in the soul. And so truly blessed are those dispensations, which, in their first view, carry a frowning aspect with them, that, when the sable covering is thus taken off by the hand of faith, on hearing Jesus’s voice under all, they have been tenfold more productive of the Redeemer’s glory and the soul’s happiness, than in the smoother providences where such exercises have not been given. My soul! what saith thine own experience to this statement? Doth the Redeemer lay crosses in thy way? Are they marked with his inscription, “Bring them unto me?” Art thou visited with sickness, and doth Jesus perform the part of the tenderest nurse, and sit up by thee? Dost thou hear his well-known voice, saying, “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you?” Surely, then, thou wilt fully subscribe to the sweet words of Jesus, in his answer to the sorrowful sisters. Every exercise and every trial of the Lord’s people, which he sweetens and sanctifies, “is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” For if it teach creature-weakness, and Creator-strength—if the believer is made sensible of his helplessness, and of Jesus’s all-sufficiency—if renewed feelings add one testimony more, that there is nothing but sickness, sin, and sorrow, in us, and therefore in Jesus alone all our resources of health, and righteousness, and joy, are found, these improvements will always give glory to God, and magnify the riches of his grace, that “the Son of God may be glorified thereby.”