John Newton and Encouragement in Dark Times

Soon, my family and I will be alone in the tribe, and, I anticipate, our marriage, our parenthood, and our relationship with our Savior will face some difficult tests. 7-8 months from now, when the Williams’ return, we’ll be different people – we’ll have gone through a gauntlet of trials handed down by our Shepherd to draw us nearer to Him, conform us to His likeness, and to shape our affections: negatively, away from the transient; positively, towards the only Person who can satisfy the longings of our hearts.

God has graciously used this text and John Newton’s insight to catch our attention and prepare our hearts for what’s ahead:

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. –2 Cor. 12:9-10

A Hymn by John Newton

Oppress’d with unbelief and sin, Fightings without, and fears within; 

While earth and hell, with force combin’d, Assault and terrify my mind: 

What strength have I against such foes, Such hosts and legions to oppose?

Alas! I tremble, faint, and fall; Lord, save me, or I give up all.

Thus sorely prest, I sought the Lord, To give me some sweet, cheering word; 

Again I sought, and yet again; I waited long, but not in vain.

Oh! ’twas a cheering word indeed! Exactly suited to my need; 

“Sufficient for thee is my grace, Thy weakness my great pow’r displays.”

Now I despond and mourn no more, I welcome all I fear’d before;

Though weak, I’m strong; though troubled, blest; For Christ’s own pow’r shall on me rest. 

My grace would soon exhausted be, But his is boundless as the sea; 

Then let me boast with holy Paul,

That I am nothing, Christ is all.

Look unto the Lord Jesus Christ; look unto him as he hung naked, wounded, bleeding, dead, and forsaken upon the cross. Look unto him again as he now reigns in glory, possessed of all power in heaven and in earth, with thousands of thousands of saints and angels worshipping before him, and ten thousand times ten thousand ministering unto him; and then compare your sins with his blood, your wants with his fullness, your unbelief with his faithfulness, your weakness with his strength, your inconstancy with his everlasting love.

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