Even Superman had to fly above the clouds to escape the deafening screams of the people.
Spurgeon sought his own space, too – his sacred space in France – away from the fog and smog that settled over his city.
Absence from ministry was as essential for Spurgeon as presence in his pulpit.
Yet even on the sunny shores of Mentone, the pastor struggled to rise above the noise. Clouds of controversy usually followed him. Problems were plentiful. There were personalities to manage and arguments to resolve. Letters didn’t write themselves.
The machinery of Spurgeon’s photographic memory rarely stopped functioning. Also, Spurgeon filled his time carrying other people’s burdens. Never empty of empathy, Spurgeon met the needs he saw, often without question or permission.
One time he saw a poor man trying to earn some money by playing an organ outside his French hotel. Apparently, the musician was “evoking more sound than sympathy.”
“Moved with pity,” Spurgeon went outside and started playing the organ like a beggar.
“[Spurgeon] ground out the tunes while the man busily occupied himself in picking up the coins thrown by the numerous company that soon gathered at the windows and on the balconies to see and hear Mr. Spurgeon play the organ!” (Autobiography 4:209-210)
Spurgeon never took a vacation from his vocation.
That was the secret of his resilience. When Spurgeon couldn’t escape the storm, he learned to praise God in the storm. Making music in the dark was Spurgeon’s speciality.
On September 23, 1890, Spurgeon literally broke into singing during a violent thunderstorm at the Stockwell Orphanage. Spurgeon calmed his terrified orphans by leading them in the Doxology.
“This was a grand climax. The heavens themselves seemed to think so, for there were no more thunder-claps of such tremendous force. I need not write more. The storm abated” (Autobiography 4:330).
But God did not calm all of Spurgeon’s storms. He did something better. God entered the storms and gave Spurgeon strength to make his own thunder of praise.
If you’re struggling to find the eye of your hurricane, let Spurgeon focus your attention elsewhere – off of the waves and onto the wave-walker (Matthew 14:30-31).
Here are twenty-two quotes to help you not just survive the storm, but sing in the storm.
1. “Sing in trouble, again because God loves to hear his people sing in the night.”
“Sing in trouble, again because God loves to hear his people sing in the night. At no time does God love his children’s singing so well as when he has hidden his face from them, and they are all in darkness.’ . . . . Sing then, Christian, for singing pleases God” (MTP 44:106, italics in the original).
2. “The more the wind rages the more you feel that the anchor holds you.”
“It is often so with us; when the winds are out and the storms are raging there is plenty of fear, but there is no danger. We may be much tossed, but we are quite safe, for we have an anchor of the soul both sure and stedfast, which will not start. One blessed thing is that our hope has such a grip of us that we know it. In a vessel you feel the pull of the anchor, and the more the wind rages the more you feel that the anchor holds you. Like the boy with his kite: the kite is up in the clouds, where he cannot see it, but he knows it is there, for he feels it pull; so our good hope has gone up to heaven, and it is pulling and drawing us towards itself” (MTP 22:285-86).
3. “It is the bold Christian who can sing God’s sonnets in the darkness.”
“Songs in the night, too, prove that we have true courage. Many sing by day who are silent by night, they are afraid of thieves and robbers; but the Christian who sings in the night proves himself to be a courageous character. It is the bold Christian who can sing God’s sonnets in the darkness” (MTP 44:105, italics in the original).
4. “How despicable our troubles and trials will seem when we look back upon them!”
“Wait a little longer. Ah, beloved! How despicable our troubles and trials will seem when we look back upon them! Looking at them here in the prospect, they seem immense; but when we get to heaven, they will seem to us just nothing at all….Let us go on, therefore; and if the night be ever so dark, remember there is not a night that shall not have a morning; and that morning is to come by-and-by” (MTP 44:104).
5. “The iron bolt which so mysteriously fastens the door of hope and holds our spirits in gloomy prison, needs a heavenly hand to push it back.”
“The iron bolt which so mysteriously fastens the door of hope and holds our spirits in gloomy prison, needs a heavenly hand to push it back; and when that hand is seen we cry with the apostle, ‘Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God’” (Lectures to My Students 1:177).
6. “Simon sinks till Jesus takes him by the hand.”
“It is the God of all consolation who can– ‘With sweet oblivious antidote/ Cleanse our poor bosoms of that perilous stuff/ Which weighs upon the heart.’ Simon sinks till Jesus takes him by the hand” (Lectures to My Students 1:177, italics in the original).
7. “Christian, when thou art dry, go to thy God, ask him to pour some joy down thee, and then thou wilt get more joy up from thine own heart.”
“You have heard it said that, when a pump is dry, you must pour water down it first of all, and then you will get some up. So, Christian, when thou art dry, go to thy God, ask him to pour some joy down thee, and then thou wilt get more joy up from thine own heart” (MTP 44:100).
8. “Your victory will come with your song.”
“Your victory will come with your song. It is a very puzzling thing to the devil to hear saints sing when he sets his foot on them. He cannot make it out: the more he oppresses them, the more they rejoice. Let us resolve to be all the merrier when the enemy dreams that we are utterly routed!” (MTP 33:611).
9. “Storms afford the safest sailing for a Christian, calms are for him more terrible than whirlwinds.”
“Storms afford the safest sailing for a Christian, calms are for him more terrible than whirlwinds; deep waters know no rocks, shallow waters that gaily ripple are the perils of the sea of our life. Far out upon the ocean, where the horizon hath its round ring, and nothing is within sight, the ship is seldom much in danger; but near the shore, when the white cliff gladdens the eye of the mariner, there the pilot must look well to his helm” (MTP 45:100).
10. “If you never go anywhere but where Christ leads the way, you need not be afraid of storms, for they will beat upon him more than upon you.”
“There are storms of this life still to be met, so get behind Christ by following him in the path of duty. If you never go anywhere but where Christ leads the way, you need not be afraid of storms, for they will beat upon him more than upon you. When I was quite a young man, I was greatly reviled for preaching the gospel; and, sometimes, my heart would sink a little under the cruel slanders that many uttered; but I used to often go upstairs to my room, and after a season of sweet fellowship with my Lord, I would come down singing” (MTP 49:538, italics in the original).
11. “Storms help to make the sailors sturdy, and trials help to make Christians strong in faith.”
“If you have ever been at sea in a storm, and noticed how unconcerned about it the weather-beaten sailors have been, you must have realized that it was because they had been hardened in many a tempest that they could so calmly go on with their duties while you and other landsmen were in dread of sinking, or longing for the end of the voyage. Storms help to make the sailors sturdy, and trials help to make Christians strong in faith and in every other grace. . . . The more the wind blows, the firmer the oak’s roots grip the soil” (MTP 57:232).
12. “Affliction hardens those whom it does not soften.”
“O soul in prosperity, disturb thyself, for thou art in solemn danger. Hardness of heart will almost inevitably come upon thee. Thou art at ease from thy youth; thou hast not been emptied from vessel to vessel; therefore thy scent remaineth in thee, and that scent is pride and carnal security. The opposite condition of circumstances will, through sin, produce the same result. Affliction hardens those whom it does not soften. There are men who have been in many storms at sea, and, though once they feared, they never tremble now. If the mast had to be cut away, and the vessel were about to go down, they would curse and swear in the teeth of the tempest, they have grown so desperate” (MTP 19:484).
13. “If you have little trouble, you will have little faith but if you have great faith, you must expect to have great trouble.”
“It little matters, you know, whether a man has no burden and no strength, or a heavy burden and great strength. Probably of the two, if it were put to the most of us, we should prefer to have the burden and the strength. I know I should. Now, there is generally this for you, that if you have little trouble, you will have little faith; but if you have great faith, you must expect to have great trouble. A manly spirit would choose to take the trouble, and take the faith too” (MTP 15:656-57).
14. “Let us be afraid of having nothing to do, and be thankful for something to suffer.”
Let us be afraid of having nothing to do, and be thankful for something to suffer, if we have not something to do actively; for, let us alone and the best of us will corrode. And if I am addressing any man who has lately given up business and is enjoying repose, I would urge upon him the wisdom of seeking some service for Christ which would engage his faculties, for it is true of Christians as well as other people” (MTP 55:470, italics in the original).
15. “It is a sweet mercy to have to go through the floods, if some filthiness may thereby be removed.”
“Oh! it is a great blessing to be put through the fire, if you come out purified. It is a sweet mercy to have to go through the floods, if some filthiness may thereby be removed. The children of Israel went down to Egypt to sojourn there, but after hard servitude and cruel oppression they came up out of it with silver and gold, much enriched by their bondage” (MTP 15:657).
16. “The further we are on the road, the less there is of it to bear.”
“Be of good courage. There are few storms, after all, that are ahead, to those that have passed through many already. The further we are on the road, the less there is of it to bear” (MTP 15:115).
17. “To descend may sometimes be the shortest way to ascend.”
“I desire to speak to you, dear friends, not only of Jesus as our Leader, but of following him in the dark. Can you see Jesus in the dark? Yes. We sometimes see him better in the dark than in the light. If you will go outside in the daytime and look up, you will not be able to see a single star; but if you will get into the bucket of a well, and go down into the darkness, very soon you will behold the stars. To descend may sometimes be the shortest way to ascend. Certainly, to suffer is the road to the land where there is no suffering; and to be in present darkness may be the nearest way to eternal light” (MTP 59:421, italics in the original).
18. “You always need divine protection, and, believer in Christ, you shall always have it.”
“There are dangers everywhere, and the guardian care of God can never be safely dispensed with. If we walk aright, we shall never venture upon a single day without first seeking divine protection. How many who have escaped out of terrible storms, have nevertheless died in a calm! Where some have passed through battles without a scar, they have afterwards been killed by an accident so slight that they would utterly have despised a precaution to avoid it. You always need divine protection, and, believer in Christ, you shall always have it” (MTP 15:652).
19. “Steer to God right away; fly to him, and you will find a peaceful shelter.”
“If you know the law of mental storms you may reach peace, and that law may be summed up in one line: Steer to God right away; fly to him, and you will find a peaceful shelter” (MTP 19:332).
20. “Our life, like April weather, is made up of sunshine and showers.”
“Thus may our loveliest calms be succeeded by overwhelming storms. A Christian man is seldom long at ease. Our life, like April weather, is made up of sunshine and showers” (MTP 19:385).
21. “Times of trouble send our hope deep down into fundamental truths.”
“Times of trouble send our hope deep down into fundamental truths. Some of you people who have never known affliction, you rich people who never knew want, you healthy folks who were never ill a week, you have not half a grip of the glorious hope that the tried ones have. Much of the unbelief in the Christian Church comes out of the easy lives of professors. When you come to rough it, you need solid gospel. A hard-working man cannot live on your whipped creams and your syllabubs – he must have something solid to nourish him” (MTP 22:287).
22. “You will not only hold your hope — that is your duty, but your hope will hold you — that is your privilege.”
“Brethren, do you know anything about your hope holding you? It will hold you if it is a good hope; you will not be able to get away from it, but under temptation and depression of spirit, and under trial and affliction, you will not only hold your hope — that is your duty, but your hope will hold you — that is your privilege” (MTP 22:285).
A Final Encouragement
“Come then, ye tremblers, ye doubters, ye little ones, ye that think ye cannot have a part in the promise, come now, come nestle down under those great wings which seem so close to you. The wings that are lined with the feathers of the Eternal will be strong wings, as though they were bars of iron, through which no storms of trouble can ever beat; through which the enemy, though he come from hell itself, shall not be able to drive his darts” (MTP 15:659).