Thursday, May 29, 2014

Memory: "Bondslave of Despondency" or "Angel of Comfort"?

Spurgeon's "Evening" devotional for May 28, commenting on Lamentations 3:21, "This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope," strengthened my heart and reminded me that, while I can't choose my feelings, I can by God's grace choose my focus, which feelings often follow. I pray it encourages you, too.
Memory is frequently the bond slave of despondency. Dispairing minds call to remembrance every dark foreboding in the past, and dilate upon every gloomy feature in the present; thus memory, clothed in sackcloth, presents to the mind a cup of mingled gall and wormwood. There is, however, no necessity for this. Wisdom can readily transform memory into an angel of comfort. That same recollection which in its left hand brings so many gloomy omens, may be trained to bear in its right a wealth of hopeful signs. . . .
As a general principle, if we would exercise our memories more wisely, we might, in our very darkest distress, strike a match which would instantaneously kindle the lamp of comfort. There is no need for God to create a new thing upon the earth in order to restore believers to joy; if they would prayerfully rake the ashes of the past, they would find light for the present; and if they would turn to the book of truth and the throne of grace, their candle would soon shine as aforetime. Be it ours to remember the lovingkindness of the Lord, and to rehearse his deeds of grace. Let us open the volume of recollection which is so richly illuminated with memorials of mercy, and we shall soon be happy. Thus memory may be, as Coleridge calls it, “the bosom-spring of joy,” and when the Divine Comforter bends it to his service, it may be chief among earthly comforters.
Spurgeon himself was no stranger to discouragement and deep depression, in a time before pharmaceutical help or the kind of trained professional counselors available now. He does not write from the mountain peak of natural happiness lecturing down at those in the Slough of Despond, but as a fellow sufferer sharing what helps him in such despairing seasons.

If you are enduring such affliction today, dear Crumble, may the Lord enlist your memory to His service in shining light into your darkness. May He open your eyes to the blessings He longs to give you in your current hardships and the ones He has given through past ones. All this and more, because of Jesus only. Amen.

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