The dying: Let them go gently into the night?

Christians, when last have you heard a sermon in your church about hell? If never, you have – although you might think not – been cheated, and your pastor will have much to answer for, even if at death he and you feel yourselves going gently into “that night.”

When I was living in England in a little hamlet, I attended briefly an Anglican church. After church, I was chatting with the priest who said he couldn’t talk long because he had to visit one of his dying parishioners. Being one daring you-know-what, I asked him what he was going to say to her. He replied “I meet her where she is at.” I asked whether he was going to find out if she was ready to die, that is, whether she was“in the faith.” He said, no, he tries to make them feel at peace. I ticked him off, and said, that a priest should do more than that. He scampered off. I am reminded of Mother Teresa who said that she helped her dying patients to reconcile with their gods, which any atheist would laud if not Lord.

In the biography Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work, she is quoted by Desmond Doig as follows: “If in coming face to face with God we accept Him in our lives, then we are converting. We become a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Catholic, a better whatever we are. … What approach would I use? For me, naturally, it would be a Catholic one, for you it may be Hindu, for someone else, Buddhist, according to one’s conscience. What God is in your mind you must accept” (Doig, Mother Teresa, Harper & Row, 1976, p. 156). And in the April 7-13, 1990, issue of Radio Times tells the story of Mother Teresa sheltering an old Hindu priest.“She nursed him with her own hands and helped him to die and be reconciled with his own gods.”

And of Jesus Christ as the way the truth and the life; the saviour of the world? Not a word.

When Mother Teresa died, her long-time friend and biographer Naveen Chawla said that he once asked her bluntly, “Do you convert?” She replied, “Of course I convert. I convert you to be a better Hindu or a better Muslim or a better Protestant. Once you’ve found God, it’s up to you to decide how to worship him” (“Mother Teresa Touched Other Faiths,” Associated Press, Sept. 7, 1997).

I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic” (Mother Teresa’s A Simple path, p. 31).

(See Mother Teresa: The missing peace of the puzzle).

My friend, who does not believe in Christ, is dying. With so much killing going on in this wicked world, I need to remind myself that most of the more than 150 000 deaths during the last 24 hours occurred in a bed of some sort.

Most people, whether they believe they are going to heaven or not, fear death. Many put it this way: “I don’t fear death; I fear dying (in pain).” Then there are those who have had near-death experiences, often on an operating table, where they saw “this beauiful light,” and, as a result no more fear of death or judgment. Thank you my Angel of Light (Lucifer).

How terrifying for someone to fall into the hands of God; and what unutterable sweetness to fall into His arms.

We must, says Charles Spurgeon, be very earnest with our own hearts this morning, to discover, if possible, whether we come under the number of those whose warfare is accomplished, and whose sin is pardoned; or whether, on the other hand, we abide with the multitude on whom resteth the curse of God, and whose sins shall be discovered and punished by the right-hand of the Most High.” (A message from God to thee – Charles Spurgeon).

(See also “Death-bed memoirs: The hands and the arms of God”).

The Bible says (frequently in the letters of Paul) that to be a Christian is to be “in Christ” and “Christ in you.” Christians are born of God (born again), which entails that Christ lives – through the Holy Spirit – in them. Once regenerated (quickened, raised to spiritual life), believers are enabled and therefore can choose the good things of God. If, though, believers don’t only want to be in Christ but also WITH Christ, this means they want seeking a better place and can’t wait to get there. Here is the Apostle Paul: Philippians 1:21-23 – “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” 

(See Jeremy Walker, in his “Life in Christ: Becoming and Being a Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ,” where he discusses the difference between being in Christ and with Christ, where “the anticipation of the dying saint” is to be with the Lord. See also “In Christ and with Christ: I wanna be with you-hoo-hoo.”).

We Christians should not fear suffering and death. Yet we do. But when we do,

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, For your sake we are being killed all the day long;  we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Another friend – contra Dylan Thomas, beseeched me to let my dying friend go gently into the night.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieve it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Death-bed conversions: Lord, have mercy on my dying friend

Do the sick who are dying think more about their eternal destiny than do the healthy? Not at all. Death-bed conversions are as rare as hen’s teeth. “Rare” as hen’s teeth? Are there any hens with teeth. “If there are, you say, it must be a mutant.” True.

“If you thought hen’s teeth were the rarest thing in nature, think again: researchers from Britain and the US have succeeded in growing teeth in a chicken…And by studying a mutant chicken – which is too weak to hatch, explaining its rarity – the team has been able to stimulate “natural” tooth growth in chickens.”

A genetic mutation is “the changing of the structure of a gene, resulting in a variant form which may be transmitted to subsequent generations, caused by the alteration of single base units in DNA, or the deletion, insertion, or rearrangement of larger sections of genes or chromosomes.”

The Bible says that “if you live according to the flesh (your human nature), you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13). Everyone dies physically, but the death referred to here is an eternal death, an eternal living death.

Here is the context of this verse:

Romans 8
Life Through the Spirit

1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man,
4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;
7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.
11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.
13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die;but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,
14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “”Abba,” Father.”
16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Future Glory
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

If you’ve never believed the above in the days of your health, it is unlikely that you will believe this on your death-bed. The only way anyone comes to believe in Christ is analogous to a genetic mutation – a rare bird indeed. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus says, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

If this is true, why does the Bible also say that there are at least 100 million people in heaven. Well, that’s not relatively many out of a population of many tens of billions that will have populated the earth by the time Jesus returns.

But to return to our (relatively) rare mutant hens:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Jesus speaking in Matthew 23:37).

Jesus is rebuking the Jewish leaders for preventing the people from coming to Him, but their efforts will be in vain. Those who come to (believe in) Jesus were given to Him by the Father before time began. And those who are given to Jesus will receive eternal life.

Matthew 23

37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Do those whom Jesus saves cause this mutation within themselves? In other words did they decide to grow teeth, which enabled them to bite through their opposition to God-Christ? Of course not. It is Jesus who designs and engineers this spiritual mutation in human nature. It is He who enables those He saves to understand that “that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 above).

“If your friend dies in her sins, you ask, why didn’t God show Himself to her?” Because, I answer, “the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18).

If my friend understood the Bible, and trusted Jesus, she would be saved. You may ask “if those that the Father gives to Jesus before they were even born are the only ones that Jesus will give the desire to come to him, how can Christ blame your dying friend if she was not given to Jesus before she was born?”

Does my friend want to trust Jesus as her saviour? If yes, then she was given to Jesus by the Father. Therefore, no person that wants to trust Jesus will ever be excluded.

Lord Jesus, have mercy on my dying friend.

Will my prayer induce God to save my friend? Perhaps. It’s God’s business what he does with the means he has chosen (for example, prayer and the Bible) to fulfil his ends (salvation). He has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy.

You want nothing to do with a God like that, you say? Let every mouth be mute.

To live is Christ, to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).

Related: The Only Way to Live and Die
Speaker: Dr. Joel Beeke

Getting the wrong end of the stick: Who’s responsible

The evil powers is the only explanation of the world as it is today and has been through history. The greastest conflict in human history is the conflict between good and evil. The Bible is a record of that confict.

Ephesians 6

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Human history begins with the Fall of man. The world became the kingdom of satan, and satan became the god of this world. We are all born as children of wrath, slaves of the devil. Popular thinking ridicules this. The god of this world has increased the blindness. In this regard, I examine a few relevant biblical texts:

Matthew 13

10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

Though seeing, they do not see;
 though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
 you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

I isolate the verses in italics – Matthew 13:12-13, 16-19, and focus on the underlined words related to “understanding (seeing, hearing).”

12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart.


Verse 12 – The one who has little understanding will have even less, and the one with much understanding will have more. Verse 16 – The disciples understood what the most exalted prophet or righteous person of the past had never understood. The disciples were “blessed” with this understanding, that is, it didn’t come from themselves but from God.

In Verse 18, “what was sown in the heart” the “evil one” snatches away? I understand this to mean that the devil steals what is little understood – “does not understand it” in verse 18. Recall verse 12 “Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” The reason for this is that everyone born into this world is a child of God’s wrath; love it or hate it.

No one – who believes in the devil – will dispute the fact that his intention is to to steal and destroy “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). What might raise not a few hackles is that God (also) comes to kill and destroy. Our focus is on the destruction/obstruction of understanding. Here is Isaiah immediately after his devastating vision of the Lord:

Isaiah 6

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

9 He said, “Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
 be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ (Matthew 13 above quoted Isaiah 6:9).

10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
 hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

Above, I bracketed “also”: “God (also) comes to kill and destroy,” because God decrees/ordains all that comes to pass. Understanding (God decrees and all things) is of the Lord. And misunderstanding? This is of Satan, under God’s decree. The understanding of God’s sovereignty over both good and evil comes from God.

Two good resources:

Genesis 3 and the entrance of evil

Genesis 3 and the author of evil

The significance of being a prosperous vile worm: A preacher at Whitney Houston’s funeral service

One Methodist pastor told me that sermons on sin were the old days and people need to be encouraged rather than be condemned. Besides, he said, many of his congregation are either elderly, sick or hurting in one way or another. What they needed was a boost of their image (not his exact words). They need to be told that when God looks at them, he jumps with delight (his words). (See And he opened to them the scriptures: a harsh sermon).

At the beginning of the sermon at the funeral service of Whitney Houston at the New Hope Baptist Church, Newark, Feb. 18, 2012, the “Prosperity Gospel” preacher started off by saying that he is going to preach the Gospel. Whoopee, that’s the stuff. Alas, he then said “Look at somebody and say ‘I’m significant.’” Yeah, you are so wonderful; that is why God saved you. Later on he said, “I don’t want anyone to leave here broke…You know there are lots of folks who say ‘I don’t believe in the prosperity gospel.’ I don’t know what other Gospel there is.” So God has a great plan for your life – to make it significantly prosperous – in the moola department – in front of Whitney’s coffin, who had it all. She got lost in the health and prosperity of it all. (See Wretched TV – With Todd Friel – Whitney Houston’s Funeral – Prosperity Gospel?

So, this asinine individual has told you that God has a great plan for your life. You poor sod. There was one “who was aroused to concern during his (Robert Murray M’Cheyne) sermon on “Unto whom coming as unto a living stone.” As he spoke of the Father taking the gem out of his bosom, and laying it down for a foundation-stone, she felt in her soul, “I know nothing of this precious stone; I am surely not converted.” This led her to come and speak with him. She was not under deep conviction; but before going away, he said, “You are a poor, vile worm; it is a wonder the earth does not open and swallow you up.”

If this wretched woman, who knew her spiritual poverty and thus nothing of this “precious stone,” is called “vile worm,” what shall we call this preacher for whom the Gospel was precious lolly. At best another “vile worm?”PREACHER WHITNEY HOUSTON FUNERAL

What happened after Robert Murray M’Cheyne called this woman a “vile worm?”

These words were blessed to produce a very awful sense of sin. She came a second time with the arrows of the Almighty drinking up her spirit. For three months she remained in this state, till having once more come to him for counsel, the living voice of Jesus gave life to her soul while he was speaking of Christ’s words, “If thou knewest the gift of God,” etc., and she went away rejoicing.” (The biography of Robert Murray M’Cheyne by Andrew Bonar).

What was it that Whitney Houston, that prosperity pastor and those he preached to needed to know? The true Gospel of Jesus Christ, where we must, says Paul Washer, not begin with man but with “the character of God. Who is He? He is righteous God. Man is the complete opposite of righteousness.” “The most horrifying news according to the scriptures,” says washer, is that “God is good” and “we are not.” “The problem is this: if God is righteous he cannot pardon. His righteousness must be satisfied. I hear these evangelists say, ‘instead of God being just with you, he is loving.'”

Washer continues:

“God cannot lay down one attribute in favor of another. And so for God to pardon a wicked people, he must firsts satisfy the demands of his own justice. He must be appeased…In pagan religions, the deity demands that re people appease his wrath; in Christianity, this righteous God becomes a man, walks on this earth, lives a perfect life, the sins of his people are imputed to Him, and He crushed under the justice the people deserves. Our God appeased Himself. Our God satisfied His own righteousness on that tree. And that is why the Gospel is so splendid… (Jesus) was crushed under the wrath of God.”

And William Symington:

The Lord our God is holy. He is free from every vestige of moral pollution ; he delights in whatever is pure ; he hates whatever is of an opposite character. Now, sin is opposed to the holiness of God ; it is essentially impure, filthy, abominable. It follows that it is the object of his supreme detestation ; he is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity. But how can this be made to appear, without the punishment of sin ? It is not enough that a penalty be annexed to transgressions, that a threat be appended to the violation of his law; if the penalty is not inflicted, if the threat is not executed, there is still room left to suppose that sin is not the abominable thing that was supposed; the blasphemous thought may nevertheless spring up in the bosom of moral creatures, that God, after all, approves of sin, and secretly connives at the commission of it. To vindicate the holiness of the divine character, the penalty annexed to disobedience must be executed. But its being executed on the transgressor is incompatible with the transgressor’s being forgiven. To the pardon of sin, then, consistently with the purity of God, the punishment must fall on the sinner’s substitute. In other words, the divine holiness proclaims the necessity of Christ’s atonement. Thus, and thus alone, can the sinner be saved without sin being palliated, or the perfect moral purity of the Holy One being sullied.”

Excerpt From: Symington, William, 1795-1862. “On the atonement and intercession of Jesus Christ.” New York : Robert Carter, 1847.

Only a remnant of modern professing Christians accept Washer’s and Symington’s words.

Related: Twisting God’s word: forgiveness and the sin nature Adrian Stanley, Helmut Thielicke, Joel Osteen and Rabbi Hirsch to the rescue.

Fear of others’ opinions

Fear of Man’s Opinion

“The fear of man” will indeed “prove to be a snare” (Proverbs 29:25). It is terrible to observe the power which it has over most minds, and especially over the minds of the young. Few seem to have any opinions of their own, or to think for themselves. Like dead fish, they go with the stream and tide: what others think is right, they think is right; and what others call wrong, they call wrong too. There are not many original thinkers in the world. Most men are like sheep, they follow a leader. If it was the fashion of the day to be Roman Catholics, they would be Roman Catholics, if it was to be Islamic, they would be Islamic. They dread the idea of going against the current of the times. In a word, the opinion of the day becomes their religion, their creed, their Bible, and their God.

Read on

Abraham, a Christian? I’ll be stoned!

As many who read Christian blogs know “Christ” is English for the Greek “Christos, which is Greek for the Hebrew “Mashiach” (Messiah).

Muslims say Abraham was a Muslim. If you mean he submitted (Arabic “Islam”) to God, yes, he was. Jews say he is the father of God’s chosen people – the Jews. Yes, he IS. Abraham, of course, wasn’t Jewish, but a “wandering” (Deuteronomy 26:5).

So, how can Abraham be Christian, a follower of the Messiah – who, two thousand years after Abraham, took on flesh in Jesus? Because Jesus said so, and called those who disbelieved him – members of God’s chosen people – children of the devil.

John 8:46-59
Which of convicts me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47 He that is of God hears God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeks and judges. 51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. 52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom make thou thyself? 54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honourme; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

Where did Abraham “rejoice to see my day, and saw it.” One place was:

11 And the ANGEL OF YAHWEH called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 And he said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the boy; do not do anything to him. For now I know that you are one who fears God, since you have not withheld your son, your only child, from ME.”

John 8:51
Truly, truly, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.

Psalms 95:8-11
8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation,

and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

9 When your fathers tempted me,

proved me, and saw my work.

10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation,

and said, It is a people that do err in their heart,

and they have not known my ways:

11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath

that they should not enter into my rest.

Are you for the most part in some misery?

The bruised reed is a person who for the most part is in some misery, just as those were who came to Christ for help, and by misery he is brought to see sin as its cause, for, whatever pretences sin makes, they come to an end when we are bruised and broken. He is sensible of his sin and misery, even to his bruising; and, seeing no help in himself, he is carried with restless desire to have supplies from another, with some hope, which raises him a little out of himself toward Christ, though he dare not claim to have gained any present interest of mercy. This spark of hope being opposed by doubts and fears rising from his corruption makes him like smoking flax; so that both these together, a bruised reed and smoking flax, make up the state of a poor distressed man. This is such a person as our Savior Christ terms “poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3), who sees his wants, and also sees himself indebted to divine justice. He has no means of supply from himself or the creature, and thereupon he mourns, and, upon some hope of mercy from the promise, and examples of those that have obtained mercy, he is stirred to hunger and thirst after it.

(Richard Sibbes, “The bruised reed”). Free PDF here