The Crook in the Lot

Thomas Boston is remembered as one of the great Puritan pastors in 16th century Scotland. He was a champion of sound doctrine at a time when it was under attack. His book The Fourfold State of Man is still one of the most important books ever on the doctrine of man. But in 1737 a smaller book was published from the pen of the pastor from Ettrick. The Crook in the Lot was the fruit of Boston’s deep reflection on Ecclesiastes 7:13: “Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which He has made crooked?” The title of Boston’s book was his way of describing the God-wrought crookedness in one’s life. In other words, Boston understood from Scripture that the “crooks” or difficulties in our circumstances are there by the sovereignty and, yes, goodness of God.

Boston had his own thorns to deal with. His wife struggled with crippling depression and Thomas suffered for years from what were probably kidney stones. This gives The Crook in the Lot the ring of authenticity and empathy. Boston wrote that crook came from “the groaning part of my life.” Reflecting on Boston’s life, J.I. Packer writes, “In addition to ongoing battles for the gospel against the non-evangelical leadership in the Church of Scotland and the continuance of his wife’s paralyzing depression, he was a martyr to some form of the stone (gravel, as he called it) and saw himself become a physical wreck. When he wrote and spoke of life’s troubles he knew what he was talking about, and the sense that this was so comes through strongly…”

I encourage you to add The Crook in the Lot to your morning or evening devotions. Here is a brief sampling:

A just view of afflicting incidents is altogether necessary to a Christian deportment under them; and that view is to be obtained only by faith, not by sense; for, it is the light of the Word alone that represents them justly, discovering in them the work of God, and, consequently, designs becoming the divine perfections. When these are perceived by the eye of faith, and duly considered, we have a just view of afflicting incidents, fitted to quell the turbulent motions of corrupt affections under dismal outward appearances…

As to the crook in thy lot, God hath made it; and it must continue while He will have it so. Should you ply your utmost force to even it, or make it straight, your attempt will be vain: it will not alter for all thou canst do; only he who made it can mend it, or make it straight. This consideration, this view of the matter, is a proper means, at once, to silence and to satisfy men, and so to bring them unto a dutiful submission to their Maker and Governor, under the crook in their lot.