Now assurance goes far to set a child of God free from this painful kind of bondage, and thus ministers mightily to his comfort. It enables him to feel that the great business of life is a settled business, the great debt is a paid debt, the great disease a healed disease, and the great works a finished work; and all other business, diseases, debts, and works, are then by comparison small. In this way assurance makes him patient in tribulation, calm under bereavements, unmoved in sorrow, not afraid of evil tidings, in every condition content, for it gives him a FIXEDNESS of heart. It sweetens his bitter cups; it lessens the burden of his crosses; it smooths the rough places over which he travels; it lightens the valley of the shadow of death. It makes him always feel that he has something solid beneath his feet and something firm under his hands—a sure friend by the way, and a sure home at the end.
J.C. Ryle, Holiness, p. 68
May I also add a little perspective here?
Directly after it mentions “a FIXEDNESS of heart”, it goes into a few comments–and I want you to notice something here..
‘Sweetens his bitter cups’… this implies there will be bitter cups to be tasted. [Ezekiel 23:31, Lamentations 3:15, Mark 10:38, Matthew 20:22]
‘Lessens the burden of his crosses’… there will be crosses for us to pick up, discomforts for us to willingly participate in “for the joy that is set before (us)” [cf. Hebrews 12:2]
‘Smooths the rough places over which he travels’… we must first be on the path of roughness for it to be smoothed. [2 Timothy 3:1, Proverbs 4:14, 8:20, Job 24:13, Proverbs 4:26]
‘Lightens the valley of the shadow of death’… must we not first be amidst it to have it lightened? [Luke 1:79, Matthew 4:16]
–As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the Christian life is not a guarantee of comfort or pleasantries. It is referred to as a battle [Psalm 144:1, Psalm 18:32,37], a struggle [Romans 7:14-25]; we are called strangers and exiles [Hebrews 11:13]; why must we require armor [cf. Ephesians 6] if we are not in a war?? Why must our cities be fortified with walls [cf. Nehemiah] if we are not being besieged upon by the enemy?
Realize, friends, that we are amidst something far more significant and far more powerful than we realize–myself included. But know that through it all, we are more than conquerors [cf. Romans 8:37], we are more than equipped for every good deed [cf. 2 Timothy 3:17]–and friends, there is no greater deed than laboring for the cause of Christ.
Remember what is being said at the end of this excerpt.. throughout it, Ryle talks of us having an assurance [Hebrews 11:1], and ‘a sure friend by the way, and a sure home at the end. We can rest assured, friends, that through this fight, He Will Reign Supreme–just read the book of Revelation–and there will always be someone at your side, empowering you with everything you will ever need, and so much more.
—-Romans 8:31 – What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?—-