Section 10 Self-Denial Helps Us Bear Adversity
Nor is it in this respect only that pious minds ought to manifest this tranquility and endurance. It must be extended to all the accidents to which this present life is liable. He alone, therefore, has properly denied himself who has resigned himself entirely to the Lord, placing all the course of his life entirely at His disposal. Happen what may, he whose mind is thus composed will neither deem himself wretched nor murmur against God because of his lot.
How necessary this disposition is will appear, if you consider the many [happenings] to which we are liable. Various diseases ever and anon attack us: at one time pestilence rages. At another, we are involved in all the calamities of war. Frost and hail, destroying the promise of the year, cause sterility, which reduces us to penury. Wife, parents, children, [or] relatives are carried off by death. Our house is destroyed by fire. These are the events that make men curse their life, detest the day of their birth, execrate the light of heaven. [They] even censure God and, as they are eloquent in blasphemy, charge Him with cruelty and injustice. The believer must also contemplate the mercy and truly paternal indulgence of God in these things. Accordingly, should he see his house by the removal of kindred reduced to solitude, even then, he will not cease to bless the Lord. His thought will be, “Still the grace of the Lord, which dwells within my house, will not leave it desolate.” If his crops are blasted, mildewed, cut off by frost, or struck down by hail, and he sees famine before him, he will not however despond or murmur against God, but maintain his confidence in Him: “We thy people, and sheep of thy pasture, will give thee thanks forever” (Psa 79:13). He will supply me with food, even in the extreme of sterility. If he is afflicted with disease, the sharpness of the pain will not so overcome him, as to make him break out with impatience and expostulate53 with God. But, recognizing justice and lenity in the rod, [he] will patiently endure. In short, whatever happens, knowing that it is ordered by the Lord, he will receive it with a placid and grateful mind and will not contumaciously resist the government of Him, at Whose disposal he has placed himself and all that he has.
Especially let the Christian breast eschew that foolish and most miserable consolation of the heathen, who, to strengthen their mind against adversity, imputed it to fortune. [Against fortune] they deemed it absurd to feel indignant, as she was blind and rash, and blindly wounded the good equally with the bad. On the contrary, the rule of piety is that the hand of God is the ruler and arbiter of the fortunes of all, and instead of rushing on with thoughtless violence, dispenses good and evil with perfect regularity.
Institutes of the Christian ReligionHome Page