Is it nothing to you, all you that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow, which is done to me…
I. THE AFFLICTED ARE VERY APT TO IMAGINE THAT GOD AFFLICTS THEM TOO SEVERELY.
1. There are many degrees and shades of difference in those evils which may be properly called afflictions. But those who suffer lighter troubles are very apt to let their imagination have its free scope, which can easily magnify light afflictions into great and heavy ones. So that mankind commonly afflict themselves more than God afflicts them.
2. There is another way, by which the afflicted are apt to magnify their afflictions. They compare their present afflictions, not only with their past prosperity, but with the afflictions of others; which leads them to imagine that their afflictions are not only great, but singular, and such as nobody else has suffered; at least, to such a great degree.
II. THIS IS A GREAT AND UNHAPPY MISTAKE.
1. None that are afflicted ever know that God lays His hand heavier upon them than upon others. Mankind are extremely apt to judge erroneously, concerning the nature and weight of their own afflictions, and the nature and weight of the afflictions which others around them suffer. They have a high estimation of the good which they see others enjoy, but a low estimation of the evil they suffer. And, on the other hand, they cherish a low idea of their own prosperity, and a high idea of their own adversity.
2. The afflicted never have any reason to imagine that God afflicts them too severely, because He never afflicts them more than they know they deserve. Every person has sinned and come short of the glory of God. Every sin deserves punishment; and it belongs to God to inflict any punishment that sin deserves.
3. The afflicted have no reason to think that God afflicts them too severely, because He never afflicts them more than they need to be afflicted. God afflicts some to draw forth the corruption of their hearts, and make them sensible that they are under the entire dominion of a carnal mind, which is opposed to His character, His law, His government, and the Gospel of His grace, and of course exposed not only to His present, but His future and everlasting displeasure. This is suited to alarm their fears, and excite them to flee from the wrath to come. God afflicts others to try their hearts, and draw forth their right affections, and give them sensible evidence of their having the spirit of adoption, and belonging to the number of His family and friends, and thereby removing their past painful doubts and fears. And He afflicts others, to give them an opportunity to display the beauties of holiness, by patience, submission, and cordial obedience in the darkest and most trying seasons.
4. The afflicted have no reason to think that God afflicts them too severely, because He never afflicts them any more than His glory requires Him to afflict them.Improvement —
1. It is very unwise, as well as criminal, for the afflicted to brood over and aggravate the greatness of their affliction.
2. If the afflicted have no reason to think hard of God, or indulge the feeling that He corrects them too severely, then as long as they do indulge such a thought and feeling, they can receive no benefit from the afflictions they suffer.
3. If the afflicted have no reason to think that God afflicts them too severely, then they always have reason to submit to Him under His correcting hand.
4. It appears from what has been said, that men may derive more benefit from great than from light afflictions. They are suited to make deeper and better impressions on the mind.
5. It is as easy to submit to heavy as to light afflictions. As there are greater and stronger reasons to submit to heavy than to lighter evils, so these reasons render it mere easy to submit to heavy than light afflictions.
6. If men are apt to think that God afflicts them too severely, then their afflictions give them the best opportunity to know their own hearts.
(N. Emmons, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.