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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Jeremiah 12

Verses 1-17

Trivial Trouble

Jeremiah 12:5

The proof that so many of us have little real trouble is found in the fact that we so piercingly bewail trifling losses and pains; were the distresses more acute, we should say less about them.

I. The habit of pampering ourselves shows how far we have lost sight of the seriousness of life. The sacramental host of God has ever been prepared to accept great losses and sufferings for the high rewards it contemplates. 'The noble army of martyrs' is the glory of God's Church, and in a real sense representative of its spirit and power. Its members have sworn allegiance to a captain who was 'made perfect through suffering'; and in all ages they have dared the most tremendous tribulations that they might win eternal life. Our disproportionate attention to minor miseries shows how far we have lost sight of the extreme seriousness of the true idea and design of human life.

II. To brood over paltry trials reveals littleness of soul, and accentuates that littleness. We are in danger of deceiving ourselves on this point. It is not uncommon for men to believe that they are able to bear great calamities better than they can small ones. It is an illusion. He who is wearied in a sprint with the footmen will never contend successfully with horses; he who faints in the land of peace will make a poor show in the swelling of Jordan. Little physical energy is left when the grasshopper becomes a burden; little energy of soul remains when the grasshopper of trivial trouble is allowed to plague us. And as fretfulness indicates spiritual feebleness it accentuates it; it effectually precludes inward largeness, strength, and heroism.

III. The habit of repining unfits us to deal with the real troubles awaiting us farther on. We ought so to run with the footmen that we shall be able to bridle the horses; we ought so to dwell in the land of peace careless of its gnats, contemptuous of its grasshoppers that it shall prove a precious discipline against the day when deep calls unto deep, and when all the waves and billows go over us; but to permit the inevitable friction of everyday life to waste our power is to lay ourselves open to inglorious humiliations whenever the crisis comes.

W. L. Watkinson, Themes for Hours of Meditation, p. 107.

Illustration. In Mosses from an Old Manse Nathaniel Hawthorne writes: 'There are so many unsubstantial sorrows which the necessity of our mortal state begets on idleness, that an observer, casting aside sentiment, is sometimes led to question whether there may be any real woe except absolute physical suffering and the loss of closest friends.

W. L. Watkinson, Themes for Hours of Meditation, p. 107.

References. XII. 5. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xi. No. 635. C. Leach, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xl. 1891, p. 204. J. Pulsford, Outlines of Sermons on the Old Testament, p. 246. G. Dawson, Sermons, p. 43. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Isaiah and Jeremiah, p. 272. XIII. 1-11. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxix. No. 1706. XIII. 15-17. Ibid. vol. xxix. No. 1748. XIII. 16. A. W. Potts, School Sermons, p. 150. XIII. 20. "Plain Sermons" by contributors to the Tracts for the Times, vol. i. p. 3.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 12". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/jeremiah-12.html. 1910.