Summary: Life maybe difficult as we follow Jesus, but then one day when we least expect it, God will grant us times of great blessing and peace.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born in 1834. Charles' father was a minister, so Charles was influenced by the Word of God from an early age. Charles was a bright boy. Even as a young boy in Essex he had been an avid reader, he read Pilgrim's Progress when he was only six years old - a book he would read more than 100 times during his life.
After graduating from high school Spurgeon missed being admitted to college because a servant girl inadvertently showed him into a different room than that of the principal who was waiting to interview him. Later, he determined not to reapply for admission when he believed God spoke to him, "Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not!"
Spurgeon heeded those words and at the age of seventeen he became pastor of a handful of believers at Waterbeach, in Cambridgeshire, meeting in what had been a aviary. Within five years he had become the best known minister in the Metropolis. Within two years he was chosen to lead a service of National Humiliation when almost 24,000 persons came out to hear him speak.
God blessed Charles' ministry and he was called to be the pastor of the well known New Park Street Chapel in London. The New Park Street Chapel invited Spurgeon to come for a 6-month trial period, but Spurgeon asked to come for only 3 months because "the congregation might not want me, and I do not wish to be a hindrance."
When Spurgeon arrived at The New Park Street Church, in 1854, the congregation had 232 members. By the end of his pastorate, 38 years later, that number had increased to 5,311. (Altogether, 14,460 people were added to the church during Spurgeon's tenure.) The church was the largest independent congregation in the world.
Spurgeon's father recalled a conversation soon after his son had accepted the call. "Your son will never last in London six months; he has no education." His own reply was, "You are terribly mistaken, he has the best education that can possibly be had; God has been his teacher, and he has had earthly teachers too." He was twenty years old at the time.
The church later changed its name to Metropolitan Tabernacle and they found a larger building, but Spurgeon remained its pastor for 38 years, until his death. His phenomenal success is unparalleled to this day. It has been estimated that Charles Spurgeon preached to more than 10,000,000 during his lifetime. He would sometimes preach as many as ten times in a week. We have copies of his sermons today which would fill 63 volumes, more text than the 9th edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica. His sermons contain between 20-25 million words! It is not hard to understand why Charles Spurgeon was called the Prince of Preachers.
There are many more amazing facts concerning Charles Spurgeon's life which give us great evidence of the hand of God upon his life: He read 6 books per week and could remember what he had read -- and where -- even years later. Spurgeon began a pastors' college that trained nearly 900 students during his lifetime -- and it continues today. In 1865, Spurgeon's sermons sold 25,000 copies every week. They were translated into more than 20 languages.
On one occasion, Spurgeon was testing the acoustics in the vast Agricultural Hall in London. Spurgeon shouted, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." A worker high in the rafters of the building heard this and became converted to Christ as a result.
Spurgeon often worked 18 hours a day. Famous explorer and missionary David Livingstone once asked him, "How do you manage to do two men's work in a single day?" Spurgeon, convinced that Jesus worked through him, replied, "You have forgotten that there are two of us."
Spurgeon spoke out so strongly against slavery that American publishers of his sermons began deleting his remarks on the subject.
Occasionally Spurgeon asked members of his congregation not to attend the next Sunday's service, so that newcomers might find a seat. During one 1879 service, the regular congregation left so that newcomers waiting outside might get in; the building immediately filled again.
Preachers today can read of the accomplishments of Pastor Spurgeon and think, "Boy, what a life! Wouldn't it be great to preach to 20,000! Wouldn't it be great to be able to take the Word of God and communicate it in such a way that people were constantly overwhelmed with God's majesty, holiness, and grace!' What a life.
Preachers aside, most of us look at people like Charles Spurgeon and think successful people have it made. We think, "If only I had such success, then I could be happy, all of my problems would cease, and I could really enjoy life."