Like a weaned child...
A Song of Ascents, of David. O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD From this time forth and forever. - Psalms 131
Last night in an elders meeting with a couple suffering a troubled marriage, we were reminding the couple that God's goodness calls us out of our romantic idolatry of our husband (or wife) by shoving our nose in the truth of his sin. And ours...
Seeing our husband's sin exposes our own sin, also, as the Holy Spirit leads us away from worshipping man to love and adore God Alone.
The discipline is difficult. And if we are tempted to reject it and continue to hold our idolatry precious, it is the love of our Heavenly Father to intensify it until we unstiffen our necks. In that context we told of the warning Thomas Watson gives in The Ten Commandments that God sometimes disiplines a father's idolatry of his child by taking that child's life. This is God's love.And I say that as a man who grew up watching his parents lose three of their sons before they reached adulthood (leukemia, cystic fibrosis, and a sledding accident).
If we love a child more than God, we make a god of it. How many are guilty in this kind? They think of their children, and delight more in them than in God; they grieve more for the loss of their first-born, than for the loss of their first love. This is to make an idol of a child, and to set it in God's room. Thus God is often provoked to take away our children. If we love the jewel more than him that gave it, God will take away the jewel, that our love may return to him again. (Watson, The Ten Commandments, p. 58, on the First Commandment)
The mention of Thomas Watson's warning concerning the death of children being used by God to wean us from the love of this world led one elder to summarize the following excerpt from John Calvin. Just now he forwarded it to me and I'm putting it up here for all readers who are suffering in the work of sanctification.
May we be weaned, dear ones.
WHATEVER be the kind of tribulation with which we are afflicted, we should always consider the end of it to be, that we may be trained to despise the present, and thereby stimulated to aspire to the future life. For since God well knows how strongly we are inclined by nature to a slavish love of this world, in order to prevent us from clinging too strongly to it, he employs the fittest reason for calling us back, and shaking off our lethargy. Every one of us, indeed, would be thought to aspire and aim at heavenly immortality during the whole course of his life. For we would be ashamed in no respect to excel the lower animals; whose condition would not be at all inferior to ours, had we not a hope of immortality beyond the grave.
But when you attend to the plans, wishes, and actions of each, you see nothing in them but the earth. Hence our stupidity; our minds being dazzled with the glare of wealth, power, and honours, that they can see no farther. The heart also, engrossed with avarice, ambition, and lust, is weighed down and cannot rise above them. In short, the whole soul, ensnared by the allurements of the flesh, seeks its happiness on the earth.
To meet this disease, the Lord makes his people sensible of the vanity of the present life, by a constant proof of its miseries.
Thus, that they may not promise themselves deep and lasting peace in it, he often allows them to be assailed by war, tumult, or rapine, or to be disturbed by other injuries. That they may not long with too much eagerness after fleeting and fading riches, or rest in those which they already possess, he reduces them to want, or, at least, restricts them to a moderate allowance, at one time by exile, at another by sterility, at another by fire, or by other means. That they may not indulge too complacently in the advantages of married life, he either vexes them by the misconduct of their partners, or humbles them by the wickedness of their children, or afflicts them by bereavement.
But if in all these he is indulgent to them, lest they should either swell with vain-glory, or be elated with confidence, by diseases and dangers he sets palpably before them how unstable and evanescent are all the advantages competent to mortals.
We duly profit by the discipline of the cross, when we learn that this life, estimated in itself, is restless, troubled, in numberless ways wretched, and plainly in no respect happy; that what are estimated its blessings are uncertain, fleeting, vain, and vitiated by a great admixture of evil. From this we conclude, that all we have to seek or hope for here is contest; that when we think of the crown we must raise our eyes to heaven. For we must hold, that our mind never rises seriously to desire and aspire after the future, until it has learned to despise the present life. For there is no medium between the two things: the earth must either be worthless in our estimation, or keep us enslaved by an intemperate love of it.
Therefore, if we have any regard to eternity, we must carefully strive to disencumber ourselves of these fetters. Moreover, since the present life has many enticements to allure us, and great semblance of delight, grace, and sweetness to soothe us, it is of great consequence to us to be now and then called off from its fascinations."
John Calvin, Institutes, III:9.1 (most paragraphing not in original)
(TB: w/thanks to Jeff)