Looking at the Wrong Side

One of my favorite routines is to crawl into bed with a volume of C.H. Spurgeon’s sermons on a Saturday night. Once everything is all set for Sunday I grab a green 5-pounder (still working through volumes 1-2) and dive right in.

It never ever fails. This discipline prepares my heart for Sunday morning.

This past Saturday I was reading through Spurgeon’s sermon “God’s Providence,” based on Ezek 1:15-19 from October 15, 1908. Here’s an excerpt I needed to read; perhaps you do, too.

It is a great truth, though hard for us to grasp, that Providence is [not a disoriented and discombobulated mess, but rather it is] one.

20160605_170901Just look at the case of Joseph. God has it in his mind that Joseph shall be governor over all the land of Egypt: how is that to be done? The first thing to be done is that Joseph’s brethren must hate him. O, say you, that is a step backward. Next, Joseph’s brethren must put him in the pit. That is another step backward, say you. No, it is not: wait a little. Joseph’s brethren must sell him; that is another step backward, is it not?

Providence is one, and you must not look at its separate parts. He is sold; he becomes a favorite: so far, so good. That is a step onward. Anon [soon], he is put in a dungeon. Wait and see the end; all the different parts of the machinery are one. They appear to clash; but they never do. Put them all together.

If Joseph had not been put in the pit, he never would have been the servant of Potiphar: if he never had been put in the round-house, he never would have interpreted the jailor’s dream; and if the king had never dreamed, he would not have been sent for. There were a thousand chances, as the world has it, working together to produce the exaltation of Joseph. Providence is one: it never clashes.

“Oh!” says one, “I cannot understand that; Providence seems to be very adverse to me. Mrs. Hannah More, I think it is, says, she went into a place where they were manufacturing a carpet. She said: “There is no beauty there.” The man said: “It is one of the most beautiful carpets you ever saw.” “Why, here is a piece hanging out, and it is all in disorder.” “Do you know why, ma’am? You look at the wrong side.”

So it is very often with us. You and I think Providence is very bad, because we are looking at the wrong side. We do look at the wrong side while we are here, but when we get to heaven we shall see the right side of God’s dealings; and when we do we shall say, “Lord, how wonderful are thy works: in wisdom thou hast made them all: glorious are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.”

You have been puzzled sometimes to think why that friend was brought into the grave. You have said, Why was I made sick at such a time? Why that trouble and that calamity? That is no business of yours. It is yours to believe that all things work together for one great purpose: that one thing never crosses another. But you must not expect to see it so just yet. Here on earth the machine appears to be broken into pieces, and we can only see it in confusion: but in heaven we shall see it all put together.

Suppose I go into a place where some great artist is manufacturing a machine: I say, Do you mean to say this is a machine? Yes, and an exquisite one it will be. It does not look like it; I could not put it together. O, no, sir, you could not, but I can; and come and see it when I have put it together, and you shall see that each part fits—that each cog on one wheel will work on the cog of another wheel, and all the parts will move together when I adjust them. Do not find fault with it, and say, “One is too small and another too large,” because you know nothing at all about it.

So, dear friends, you and I can never see but parts of God’s ways. We only see here a wheel and there a wheel; but we must wait till we get to heaven, then we shall see the right side of the carpet; we shall see it all put together, and then we shall see it was one piece of machinery, had one end, one aim, one object, and was all one.

You can read the sermon in its entirety here.


 Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. Spurgeon’s Sermons Volume Two (Peabody: Hendrickson Publisher’s Marketing, 2011). 195.