From ‘John Plowman’s Talk and Pictures’

No man’s lot is fully known till he is dead: change of fortune is the lot of life. He who rides in the carriage may yet have to clean it…and he who is up aloft may have to take his turn in the pit…The thought that we may ourselves be one day under the window should make us careful when we are throwing out our dirty water…and therefore let us look well to dealings with the unfortunate.

Nothing makes me more sick of human nature than to see the way in which men treat others when they fall down the ladder of fortune…they cry, “He was always good for nothing.” Dog won’t eat dog, but men will eat each other up like cannibals, and boast of it too…The dog is drowning, and therefore all his friends empty their buckets over him…The house is on fire, and all the neighbours warm themselves. The man…has tumbled into the road…he is down and selfishness cries, “Let him be kept down, then there will be more room for those who are up.”

How aggravating it is when those who knocked you down kick you for not standing up. “What a pity he went so far on the ice!” That’s very true, but that won’t save the poor fellow from drowning…Good advice is poor food for a hungry family.

A man of words and not of deeds,                                                                                                            Is like a garden full of weeds.

…Help my old horse to a few oats, and then tell him to mend his pace. Feel for me, and I shall be much obliged to you, but mind you feel in your pocket or else a fig for your feelings.

…A noble spirit always takes the side of the weak but noble spirits do not often ride along our roads; they are as scarce as eagles…Most people will help those who do not need it…all the cooks baste the fat pig, and the lean one gets burned.

In times of prosperity friends will be plenty:                                                                                        In times of adversity not one in twenty.

While the wind serves, all aid…All the neighbours are cousins to the rich man…but Widow Needy is not heard across the park railings, let her call as she may. Men willingly pour water into a full tub and give feasts to those who are not hungry, because they look to have as good or better in return…unless it be some antiquated old soul who believes…loves his Lord, and therefore gives, ‘hoping for nothing again’? …When…folks are very polite and considerate, poor men had need beware. It was not a good sign when the fox walked into the hen-roost and said, ‘Good mooring to you all, my very dear friends.’

Down men, however, must not despair, for God is yet alive, and he is the Friend of the friendless…A good man…His hope may be drenched but not drowned. He plucks up courage and sets a stout heart to a stiff hill, and gets over rough ground where others lie down and die. While there’s life, there’s hope. Therefore, my friend, if you’ve tumbled off the back of prosperity, John Ploughman bids you not to lie in the ditch but up with you and try again. Jonah went to the bottom of the sea, but he got to shore again all the better for his watery journey.

A false faith can only float in smooth water, but true faith, like a life boat, is at home in storms. If our religion does not bear us up in time of trial, what is the use of it? If we cannot believe God when our circumstances appear to be against us, we do not believe him at all.

Charles Spurgeon – 1869

I know what it is to be kicked for not getting up by those who knocked me down. I know what it is to be financially, productively, relationally, emotionally, physically, spiritually down…and up. Because we have been made in the likeness of our Creator, we can care about the lot of others. We must choose. I know what it is to face, be within, and sail out of storms that looked as though they were intended to be life-taking. Life-taking can be life-giving; if what is taken was preventing life, and what is given fills the void with life.

Today, I choose life!

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