All Things For Good. The book by Thomas Watson has been sitting in my bookcase for a year. It was given to me by a dear friend at our old church who enjoyed keeping tabs on my spiritual life, and who frequently just gave me books that he thought would inspire me and challenge me. I read some of them, but I hadn’t read All Things For Good. Now, we’ve moved away from dear old Ohio, and away from my quiet, uneventful life. Things are beginning to occur, and as I have finally begun to settle into my busy schedule I have learned to make time to be quiet and to reflect and study the character of God and to nurture my soul with his word.
I wake up sweating in the night, sometimes, because I worry myself over application work, visa issues, financial matters. I stay awake at night thinking about all the things that could go wrong, how some things seem just too good to be true, that I certainly didn’t do anything to deserve it and all it will be in the end is an empty dream. [More details on this in a later post.] But then, a few nights ago, I started Thomas Watson’s book. The old language of the Puritans was like cold water on a hot and dusty day, just poured right over my head. I could feel the essence sinking into every part of my mind. And I was convicted. If things go “wrong”, it’s still for our good. I am still a child, because I must remind myself over and over again that God does not leave us to ourselves but is constantly proactive. All things for good. Not, all for naught, but all for good. For our ultimate good. Of course, I can’t always see how it will be good or why—sometimes I’ll never see, but I have to trust in his promises. He has promised. Unlike me, he keeps his promises. And in trusting him I find rest. I can sleep thinking, “He knows what he wants for me, and he’s working towards that end, and he’ll work in me.”
Here are just a few practical excerpts from the book.
“The Word preached works for good. It is a savour of life, it is a soul-transforming Word, it assimilates the heart into Christ’s likeness; it produces assurance. ‘Our gospel came to you not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance’ (1 Thess. 1:5). It is the chariot of salvation.
Prayer works for good. Prayer is the bellows of the affections; it blows up holy desires and ardours of soul. Prayer has power with God. ‘Command ye me’ (Isa. 45:11). It is a key that unlocks the treasury of God’s mercy. Prayer keeps the heart open to God, and shut to sin; it assuages the intemperate heart and the swellings of lust. It was Luther’s counsel to a friend, when he perceived a temptation begin to arise, to betake himself to prayer. Prayer is the Christian’s gun, which he discharges against his enemies. Prayer is the sovereign medicine of the soul. Prayer sanctifies every mercy (1 Tim. 4:5). It is the dispeller of sorrow: by venting the grief it eases the heart. When Hannah had prayed, ‘she went away, and was no more sad’ (1 Sam. 1:18). And if it has these rare effects, then it works for good.”
One thing I love about the Puritans is that as antiquated and unapproachable as they seem, the essence of their words transcend time. Just because they’re four hundred years old doesn’t mean that what they say is not practical. No: far from it. They speak straight to the heart of the matter, with understand and wisdom that is hard to find in this day and age. I find myself renewed, comforted, and invigorated to continue in my spiritual journey, to continue trusting Christ and putting him before everything that I do.
Just as a closing, one of my favourite Westminster Catechism Q&A’s, which I think can be applicable.
Q: “What are the benefits that in this life accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?”
A: “The benefits, which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.”