Psalm 79:13 - But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
Institutes Book 3, Chapter 7, Section 10
"He alone has has duly denied himself who has so totally resigned himself to the Lord that he permits every part of his life to be governed by God's will... How necessary this disposition is will appear if you weigh the many chance happenings to which we are subject. Various diseases repeatedly trouble us: now plague rages; now we are cruelly beset by the calamities of war; now ice and hail, consuming the year's expectation, lead to barrenness, which reduces us to poverty. Wife, parents, children, neighbors, are snatched away by death; our house is burned by fire... [But] In short whatever happens, because he will know it ordained of God, he will undergo it with a peaceful and grateful mind so as not to stubbornly resist the command of him into whose power he once for all surrendered himself and his every possession."
It is fair to say that life was harder for John Calvin than it is for us. Not that we don't have various problems, but our medical care is much better and we suffer few plagues. Few of us in the western world face the horrors of war in our homeland. Fires may threaten us, but we have insurance. Life expectancy has is much greater. That is not to say that life is easy for us, but Calvin and his contemporaries lived with a very real concern for their physical well-being on a regular basis. Calvin had only one child who died in infancy. He lived his life under the threat of violence. Life was very unstable.
For Calvin the logic of suffering worked like this; if you surrender your own self and your possessions to God, then we need not resist him when we suffer loss. In the face of disaster we look to the Sovereign will of God and trust him. I am not saying that it is easy. Calvin was not saying it was easy. But the key to having a peaceful and grateful mind is self surrender.
For us, the challenge lies in the fact that we have more stuff that we need to surrender. We have a greater temptation to believe that we can control our own lives. When life is completely out of control (think about the life of a reformer in the mid 16th century) we are reminded regularly that we must surrender to God's will. But, when life seems more controllable it is more tempting to grasp after control.
Corrie Ten Boom once said, 'I try not to hold onto things too tightly, because I don't like it when God has to pry them out of my hands." Are their things in your life which you are holding too tightly? Are their things that you need to release into the control of God's sovereign hands? - This is the secret to a peaceful and grateful mind. (Matt)