by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped. And said, Naked came l out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. —Job 1:20, 21
This present text is as excellent as any in all the holy Scripture to show us what this word patience means. And it behooves us to be taught if we will have God to acknowledge us to be patient in our afflictions. We commonly say a man is patient although he has no true patience in him. For men call anyone patient who suffers adversity.
But let us hold this for a rule, that to be considered patient, it behooves us to moderate our sorrow. If there be any adversity, it must be assuaged by confidence that God does not cease to procure our welfare; and that we ought to be subject to him; and that it is reasonable that he should govern us according to his good pleasure. This is how patience manifests itself.
But there is nothing better or more necessary than to look in the mirror that is set before us here. We have seen that Job might have been overwhelmed by the report of so many evil tidings. But it is said that he arose and tore his clothes and sheared his head, and cast himself on the ground to humble himself before God.
Here we see first of all that those who are patient are sure to endure some grief and feel some sorrow and anguish; for if we were as stocks or stones it would be no virtue at all in us. We sometimes see a poor madman laugh and scorn the whole world, even when he is at death's door. But that is because he has no awareness of his misery. This does not deserve to be taken for patience; it is mere stupidity. Brute beasts sometimes have no feeling, but they are not patient for all that.
So then let us note that the word patience does not mean that men should become brutish, so that they should have no heaviness at all, or be burdened with grief when they feel adversities; but the virtue is when they moderate themselves, and so control themselves that they do not cease to glorify God in the midst of all their miseries, nor be so overburdened and swallowed up with sorrow and anguish as to give up altogether; but fight against their own passions until they are able to conform themselves to the will of God, and to conclude as Job does here, finally saying that God is righteous in every respect. —Sermons
John Calvin was the premier theologian of the Reformation, but also a pious and godly Christian pastor who endeavored throughout his life to point men and women to Christ. We are grateful to Reformation Heritage Books for permission to use John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart as our daily devotional for 2013 on the OPC Web site. You can currently obtain a printed copy of that book from Reformation Heritage Books.
Dr. Joel Beeke, who is editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books, has this to say:
"Calvin shows us the piety of a Reformed theologian who speaks from the heart. Having tasted the goodness and grace of God in Jesus Christ, he pursued piety by seeking to know and do God’s will every day. He communed with Christ, practicing repentance, self-denial, and cross-bearing. Moreover, his theology worked itself out in heart-felt, Christ-honoring piety. The selections of this devotional bear this out, and hopefully will be used by God to direct pious hearts in our own day."
These devotional readings from John Calvin were compiled by John H. Kromminga. Be sure to read his "Introduction" to John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart.