Charles Spurgeon is celebrated as one of the most gifted, dedicated, brilliant, and impacting preachers and pastors in history. This honorable distinction is given by most because of his piercing, articulate, Christ-centered, and Word-driven sermons that were heard and have been read by thousands all over the world. Because of the popularity that Spurgeon reached in his ministry, his faithfulness as a very young pastor is often overlooked.
In 1854, at the young age of twenty, Spurgeon moved to pastor a church in London (New Park Street Chapel), which later became the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Spurgeon had barely been in London twelve months when a severe case of cholera swept through London. Spurgeon recounts his efforts to care for and visit the numerous sick in the midst of horrific conditions:
All day, and sometimes all night long, I went about from house to house, and saw men and women dying, and, oh, how glad they were to see my face! When many were afraid to enter their houses lest they should catch the deadly disease, we who had no fear about such things found ourselves most gladly listened to when we spoke of Christ and of things Divine.
What an extraordinary example of a young, inexperienced pastor who feared God more than a contagious disease. What a model for each of us to see the sacrificial care that Spurgeon gave at great risk because he knew of the spiritual fruit that could come only at the bedside of a dying man. His gift to preach was evident to all who heard him, which brought great demand on his time. Yet Spurgeon placed all those opportunities aside as he accounts:
During that epidemic of cholera, though I had many engagements in the country, I gave them up that I might remain in London to visit the sick and the dying.
The demands on the life of Charles Spurgeon, even at twenty years of age, were great, quite possibly greater than the demands on most of us who live in one of the busiest cultures in history. We can certainly see through Spurgeon’s example the significant impact visiting the sick can have. However, what may be most applicable through this account is the sacrifices of Spurgeon to make this divine task a priority.
Pastors, don’t lose sight of the sick, suffering, and afflicted in your congregation for the more glamorous parts of pastoral ministry. In fact, I believe it is the faithfulness of our labors in the trenches that God uses to make our public ministries more useful and powerful. Especially, if we are willing to take risks.