I am reading ‘The Roots of Endurance’ by John Piper, which is the story of three great men of a bygone era: John Newton, Charles Simeon and William Wilberforce. John Piper studied the lives of these three men because he wanted to know what it was that made them persevere amidst great suffering and tremendous resistance. Piper contends that we live in an era of emotional fragility – and we would do well to learn from the lives of these men who seem to have had a secret of endurance which few of us have.
Here is something which struck me from the words of Charles Simeon: ‘My rule is – never to hear, or see, or know, what if heard, or seen, or known, would call for animadversion from me. Hence it is that I dwell in peace in the midst of lions.’ Piper comments: ‘We would all do well not to be curious about what others are saying about us. There is little good that can come of it: pride, if the comments are good; discouragement, if they are critical; anger, if they are false. These are not the emotions we need to cultivate. Trusted cousnel from reliable people, not rumors, is the stuff of good self-assessment.’
Perhaps one of the reasons for our modern emotional fragility is an over-awareness of what others think and say about us – and an under-awareness of what God thinks and says about us. Charles Simeon ‘devoted the first four hours of the day to private prayer and the devotional study of the Scriptures….Here was the secret of his great grace and spiritual strength.’