Every so often, I come across a hymn which gets the Christian life with all its joys and mourning. The following hymn was written by John Newton and is a beautiful testament to the Lord's purpose in sending us difficulties and afflictions:
There is nothing more beautiful than a broken man weeping before God.
Why is the man weeping? He weeps because he is broken and he weeps because he is before God and that throws his brokenness into even sharper relief. He weeps because he has become aware of the greater extent of sin in his life and that he has indeed fallen short of the glory of God. He weeps because of the ungodliness within him, he cries out for his faith is weak and he does not think of God as he should. He weeps because he desires with a burning passion to rejoice in God and this desire is unfulfilled and the joy that should be so abundant is absent. He is broken because he is so self centred and thinks not of others and his prayers and thoughts revolve himself instead of his God. He weeps because the darkness seems strong and he has fallen. He is broken and knows that he is unworthy. And he weeps for he is not as obedient to God as he should be and the idols of his heart bear a heavy price on his soul. His heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.
Why is the man weeping? He weeps because above all else he remembers the words of his God:
“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul…Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Psalm 23 v 1 – 4
Whenever I read or recall the above verse to mind I also remember a story I once heard. It was about a Jewish Christian who had lived in Germany during World War II. He lost everything. He lost his family business, home and wealth. He was put in a Concentration Camp and lost his good health and became a starved and ill man. And he had to watch his wife and children die before him. But he survived. And someone was speaking to him about his experience and asked him how he managed to hold it all together. His reply struck me and has continues to do so since. He said with tears streaming down his cheeks: “It is only when you lose everything that you realize that Christ is all you need”