By Ellen White: Review and Herald April 28, 1859
We often hear the life of the christian described as being filled with trials, sadness and sorrow, with but little to cheer and comfort; and the impression is too often given, that if he should give up his faith and his efforts for Eternal Life, the scene would be changed to pleasure and happiness. But I have been led to compare the life of the sinner with the life of the righteous. The sinner does not have a desire to please God; therefore can have no pleasing sense of his approbation. He does not enjoy his state of sin and worldly pleasure without trouble. He feels deeply the ills of this mortal life. O yes, at times he is fearfully troubled. He fears God, but does not love him.
Is the sinner free from disappointment, perplexity, earthly losses, poverty and distress? O no! In this respect he is no more secure than the righteous. He often suffers lingering sicknesses, yet has no strong and mighty arm to lean upon, no strengthening grace from a higher power to support him. In his weakness he must lean upon his own strength. He cannot look forward with any pleasure to the resurrection morn, for he has no cheering hope that he will then have part with the blest. He obtains no consolation by looking forward to the future. A fearful uncertainty torments him, and thus he closes his eyes in death. This is the end of the poor sinner's life of vain pleasures.
The christian is subject to sickness, disappointment, poverty, reproach and distress. Yet amid all this he loves God, and loves to do his will, and prizes nothing so highly as his approbation. In the conflicts, trials, and changing scenes of this life, he knows that there is One who understands it all; One who will bend his ear low to the cries of the sorrowful and distressed; One who can sympathize with every sorrow and soothe the keenest anguish of every heart. He has invited the sorrowing ones to come to him and find rest. Amid all his affliction the christian has strong consolation, and if he suffers a lingering, distressing sickness, before he closes his eyes in death, he can with cheerfulness bear it all, for he holds communion with his Redeemer. You often see his countenance radiant with joy, while he contemplates the future with heavenly satisfaction—only a short rest in the grave, and the Life-giver will break the fetters of the tomb, release the captive and bring him from his dusty bed immortal, never more to know pain, sorrow or death. Let this hope of the christian be our hope, and we will ask no more.
Many speak of the life of the christian taking away from us pleasure and worldly enjoyment. I say it takes away nothing worth having. Is there perplexity, poverty and distress endured by the christian? O yes, this is expected in this life. But is the sinner of whom we speak as enjoying the pleasures of this world free from these ills of life? Do we not often see in him the pale cheek, the racking cough, indicating a fatal disease? Is he not subject to burning fevers, and contagious diseases? How often do you hear his complaints of meeting with heavy losses of worldly goods; and consider, this is his only treasure. He loses all. These troubles of the sinner are overlooked.
Christians are too apt to think they are the only ones who have a hard time, and some seem to think that it is a condescension in them to embrace unpopular truth, and profess to be Christ's followers. The road seems hard. They think they have many sacrifices to make, when in truth they make no real sacrifice. If they are adopted into the family of God, what sacrifices have they made? Their following Christ may have broken friendship with worldly relatives; but look at the exchange—their names written in the Lamb's Book of Life—elevated, yes, greatly exalted to be partakers of salvation—heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, to an imperishable inheritance. If the link which binds them to worldly relatives is weakened for Christ's sake, a stronger one is formed, a link which binds finite man to the Infinite God. Shall we call this a sacrifice on our part because we yield error for truth, light for darkness, weakness for strength, sin for righteousness, and a perishable name and inheritance, for honors that are lasting, and an immortal treasure? But even in this life the christian has One upon whom to lean for support who will help him bear all his trials. But the sinner has to bear his trials alone. He goes down into the grave suffering remorse, under darkness, bound by Satan, for he is his lawful prey.
It does seem to me if there is any one who should be continually grateful, it is the christian. If there is any one who enjoys happiness even in this life, it is the faithful follower of Jesus Christ. It is the duty of God's children to be cheerful. They should encourage a happy frame of mind. God cannot be glorified by his children living continually under a cloud and casting a shadow wherever they go. The christian should cast sunshine instead of a shadow. The unbeliever often receives the impression that religion is a gloomy thing, and that the life of the christian has nothing inviting in it. If the christian dwells too much upon the rough pathway, he makes it harder than it really is. If he dwells upon the bright spots in the way, and is grateful for every ray of light, and then dwells upon the rich reward that lies at the end of the race, instead of gloom, mourning and complaints, he will bear a cheerful countenance. He has carefully treasured every token for good, and God can safely bless him, and give him gladness of heart.
May the Lord ever give us a lively sense of the great sacrifice which has been made for us, and then present before us the inheritance purchased for us by that dear sacrifice, and may our vision be brightened and clear to dwell upon and appreciate the reward and excellent glory prepared for the faithful christian.