In this sermon, Pastor Neil urges us to look beyond our trials, troubles, disruptions, and disappointments, and to realize God is with us. Here are some excerpts:
The word hitherto simply means “until now” or “up to this time.” Spurgeon compares this life to a long avenue lined with trees, suggesting that as you look down the vista of your years, whether old or young or somewhere in between, you will see “the green boughs of (God’s) mercy overhead and the strong pillars of (His) lovingkindness and faithfulness that bear your joys.” In the trees are birds singing of mercy received hitherto.
As you look back on the years of your life – and even on the year 2020, a year that will live in infamy – can you not see how the Lord has helped you and those you love, how the Lord has been gracious to you thus far, how He has been with you and shown you His mercy and steadfast love hitherto? This does not mean you have not faced challenges or setbacks or disappointments. It does not mean God has not allowed you to experiences disruptions of one kind or another. It does mean, though, that the disruptions and hardships of life do not alter the fact of God’s goodness to you, His love for you, and the sufficiency of His grace to you. Hitherto has the Lord helped us. He has brought you and me “through many dangers, toils, and snares,” as we sing in “Amazing Grace,” and by His grace He will lead us to our heavenly home.
As you think about the year just ended, or about the whole course of your life so far, let this declaration be the testimony of your life: “Hitherto – thus far – has the Lord helped us.” Take time to memorialize the ways in which you have seen God at work, even in the midst of an incredibly trying year. But that is not all. Spurgeon points out that this phrase points forward as well: “For when a person gets to a certain point and writes hitherto,” he says, “he or she is not yet at the end – there is still a distance to be traveled” in life. “More trials and joys, more temptations and triumphs, more prayers and answers, more toil and strength, more (battles) and victories; and then come sickness, old age, disease, death” – things we don’t like to think about and most of us don’t look forward to.
Some of us, it is true, would rather not still be here in the land of the dying. We all live in the land of the dying. The Bible says that death is the destiny of every person (Ecclesiastes 7:2). Sooner or later, unless Jesus returns first, every one of us will have an appointment with death. Some of us, to be honest, are eager for that day to come. We look forward to being absent from the body and at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-9). Others of us cling to this earthly life with every ounce of strength we have, because we do not want to be separated from those we love here on earth. It doesn’t have to be an either-or. You can love life and look forward to heaven at the same time. You can be eager to go home to heaven and still cherish the goodness and blessings of God in this life.
Spurgeon wants us to see beyond the good things and the hard things of this life, beyond the inevitability of death, to what lies beyond it for those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. What lies ahead? In Spurgeon’s words, “Awakening in the likeness of Jesus; the thrones, harps, songs, psalms, and white garments” of heaven; “the face of Jesus, the society of saints, the glory of God, the fullness of eternity, the infinity of bliss.”
Pastor Neil has a lot more to say about this topic– to look beyond. Please click on the link below to hear the sermon in its entirety.