AFFLICTION MAKES SIN MORE SINFUL

“The rainbow can only be seen painted against the backdrop of clouds” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Aug 12th PM).

“Before I was afflicted I went astray” (Ps 119:67 ESV).

“Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way” (1 Pet 4:1-2 MSG).

“Oh, how often does the season of trial detect the secret state of our souls! We are not aware of our impaired strength, of our weak faith, of our powerless grace; of how feeble our hold on Christ is; of how legalistic our views of the gospel are; of how clouded our minds may be; of how partial our acquaintance with God is, until we are led into the path of trouble” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Jan 25th).

“God is testing [the children of man] that they may see that they themselves are but beasts” (Eccl 3:18 ESV).

“What hard, knotty timber must we be, that the Lord hath to hack us so much, in order to render us plain and smooth” John Brown of Haddington (ref#333, p289).

AFFLICTION ENDEARS OUR SOUL TO GOD

“Behold God is mighty, and does not despise any; he is mighty in strength of understanding. He does not keep the wicked alive, but gives the afflicted their right. He does not withdraw his eyes from the righteous” (Job 36:5-7 ESV).

“In no way does God more effectually comfort those that are cast down than by drawing them to Himself” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Nov 18th). “The LORD helps [the righteous] and delivers them; because they take refuge in him” (Ps 37:40 ESV).

“[A]ll the children of God are destined to be conformed to him. Hence it affords us great consolation in hard and difficult circumstances, which men deem evil and adverse, to think that we are holding fellowship with the sufferings of Christ; that as he passed to celestial glory through a labyrinth of many woes, so we too are conducted thither through various tribulations” John Calvin (ref#113, p458).

“The hardships that you are facing are the tool of his exposing, forgiving, liberating, and transforming grace” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Feb 19th).

“Has the Lord been leading you away, severing ties, and breaking up your calm; disappointing you here, and thwarting you there? Amazed, you have asked, ‘Lord why this?’ And the only reply has been the comfort He speaks to your weary, desolate heart” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, March 30th).

“For [God] will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul [he] will replenish” (Jer 31:25 ESV).

“[L]et the brother who is in lowly circumstances [poor and afflicted] be glorying in his exalted position [namely, in the midst of trials which teach him patience]” (James 1:9 Wuest).

AFFLICTION ENDEARS THE SOUL TO JESUS

“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, [God’s] way to finding yourself” (Matt 16:24-26 MSG).

“Jesus answered, that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I have conquered the world” (John 16:31-33 MSG).

“In the days of his flesh [Jesus] offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (Heb 5:7-9 ESV).

“[T]he whole body of the faithful, so long as they live on the earth, must be like sheep for the slaughter, in order that they may be conformed to Christ their head” John Calvin (ref#113, p468).

“Have you ever thought of the sympathy of Christ? Have you ever thought of Him as bearing that cross with you, entering into its distinctiveness and its minutest circumstance? ‘Then why, if so tender and sympathizing, does He place this cross on me?’ Because of His wisdom and love. He sees that you need that cross. The preciousness and tenderness of Jesus are learned in the dark hour of suffering” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Aug 4th).

“God will take care of everything you need in the glory that pours from Jesus” (Phil 4:18-20 MSG).

ABIDE IN CHRIST

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn [God’s] statutes” (Ps 119:71 ESV).

“When things are going ‘bad’ that does not mean God has stopped doing good. It means he is shifting things around to get them in place for more good, if you will go on loving him” John Piper (ref#220, p181).

“[B]eliever, most specially in times of trial, abide in Christ. Abide in Christ! This is indeed the Father’s object in sending the trial” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p124).

“[O]ne of the purposes of trials—to revive in us the spirit of devotion and communion with God. And when mercy comes on the back of great trouble, it leads us sweetly to prayer” Charles Spurgeon (ref#310, p165).

“You and I place much more importance on things than they truly possess, and when we do so, these things begin to claim our heart allegiance. So God ordains for us to experience that physical things get old and break. The people in our lives fail us. Relationships sour and become painful. Our physical bodies weaken. Flowers die and food spoils. All of this is meant to teach us that these things are beautiful and enjoyable, but they cannot give us what we all long for—life” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, March 29th).

“In this world that is groaning, God is protecting our hearts. He is protecting us from us. Our hearts can be so fickle. We can worship God one day, only to turn and give the worship of our hearts to something else the next. So, in love, God lets pieces of the creation die in our hands so that increasingly we are freed from asking earth to give us what only he can give.” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, March 29th).

“The furnace works wonders for a believer. He should never wish to be exempt from it! [R]eal grace is inseparable from a state of trial. Where there is real faith, the Lord will try it. Real grace, then, is tried grace. The hour of affliction is the hour of softening. The hardness of the heart yields, the callousness of the spirit gives way, the affections become tender, and conscience is more susceptible. It is the season of holy abstraction, meditation, and prayer, of withdrawal from the world and from creature delights, while the soul is more closely shut in with God. Emptied, humbled, and softened, the heart is prepared for the seal of the Spirit” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, May 8th).

“Your Lord knows that even as his child your heart is still prone to wander, so in tender, patient grace he keeps you in a world that teaches you that he alone is worthy of the deepest, most worshipful allegiance of your heart” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, March 29th).

LOOK NOT TO YOURSELF

“The divine life in the soul of man is indestructible; it cannot perish. The seed that grace has implanted in the heart is incorruptible; it cannot be corrupted. Trials, conflicts, storms, and tempests are far from impairing the principle of holiness in the soul. They only deepen and strengthen it, and tend to its growth” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, July 11th).

“Sure, you’ll face difficulty, God is prying open your fingers so you’ll let go of your dreams, rest in his comforts, and take up his call” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Feb 1st).

“[T]he only thing which made it necessary for our Lord to undertake to bear the cross, was to testify and prove his obedience to the Father; whereas there are many reasons which make it necessary for us to live constantly under the cross. Feeble as we are by nature, and prone to ascribe all perfection to our flesh we readily estimate our virtue above its proper worth, and doubt not that, whatever happens, it will stand unimpaired and invincible against all difficulties. Hence we indulge a stupid and empty confidence in the flesh, and then trusting to it wax proud against the Lord himself; as if our own faculties were sufficient without his grace. This arrogance cannot be better repressed than when He proves to us by experience, not only how great our weakness, but also our frailty is. Therefore, he visits us with disgrace, or poverty, or bereavement, or disease, or other afflictions. We thus learn to invoke his strength” John Calvin (ref#113, p458).

“It is so easy to groan about the difficulties of life. It is so easy to be dissatisfied. Why are these things so easy? Well, they’re easy because sin still causes us to make it all about us. Because sin really is selfishness at its core, we all still tend to shrink our worlds down to the small confines of our wants, our needs, and our feelings. If you put yourself in the center of your world, you will find plenty of things to complain about. Combine the hardships of life in this fallen world with the self-centeredness of sin and you have a recipe for disaster, or at least a miserable life of discontent. [A]ll your grumbling is ultimately grumbling against [God]” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Apr 25th).

“[T]he Lord dealt with me, I was rich, and He impoverished me. I was exalted, and He laid me low. He did not drain only one cup and dash solely one vessel, but many. He emptied me ‘from vessel to vessel.’ Happy will you be if the result of all this empting and humbling is the filling and enrichment of your soul with larger communications of grace and truth from Jesus” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Apr 18th).

“In grace, he leads you where you didn’t plan to go in order to produce in you what you couldn’t achieve on your own. He isn’t so much working to transform our circumstances as he is working through hard circumstances to transform you. [You are] blessed with the heart-transforming grace of difficulty” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Feb 1st).

GOD’S CONTROL IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES

“[C]onsider those who patiently remain under their trials spiritually prosperous and fortunate. You heard of the patience of Job, how he patiently remained under the trials to which he was subjected, and you saw the consummation [of those trials] brought about by the Lord, that the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11 Wuest).

[M]y salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed. Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their reviling” (Isa 51:6-7 ESV).

“O let my trembling soul be still,

And wait Thy wise, Thy holy will!

I cannot, Lord, Thy purpose see,

Yet all is well since ruled by Thee” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, May 22nd AM).

“[A]lways pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1 ESV). “And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night” (Luke 18:7 ESV).

“[W]hatever God does endures forever, nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts” (Ecc 3:14,18 ESV).

“He gave us friends; in love He has removed them. In goodness He blessed us with health; in goodness He has taken it away. Yet this is the way along which He is conducting us to glory” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Jan 31st).

AFFLICTION – TO CHASTEN THE SOUL

“[T]he whole soul, wrapped up in carnal delights, seeks its happiness on this earth. To counteract this, the Lord by various and severe lessons of misery, teaches his children the vanity of the present life” John Calvin (ref#313, p68).

“Virtue is like precious odours, most fragrant when they are incensed or crushed; for prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue” Lord Francis Bacon (ref#333, p123).

“We suffer a serious loss when we dwell so much in the region of present clouds, and so little in the meridian of future glory. We look too faintly beyond the midnight of time, into the daylight of eternity. We are slow of heart to believe all that is revealed of the bliss that awaits us, and do not sufficiently realize that in a little while—oh, how soon!—the day will break, the shadow will flee away, and we shall bathe our souls in heaven’s full, unclouded, endless light” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Feb 2nd).

“Afflictions quicken us to prayer. They are useful, and in a degree necessary, to keep alive in us a conviction of the vanity and unsatisfying nature of the present world” John Newton (ref#322, p173).

“Trial is part of the education given in the school of Christ, to purify God’s children from the dross of earthliness. It is because God is leading His children that trying experiences come to them. Trials and obstacles are His chosen methods of discipline, and He is appointed conditions of success” Ellen G. White (ref#331, p524).

“All your heaven-blessed trials, all your sanctified temptations, all the covenant transactions of God with you in the way of afflictive providences, are designed only to fit you more perfectly for your inheritance” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Feb 28th).

“[H]e does not afflict to destroy or ruin us, but rather to deliver us from the condemnation of the world” John Calvin (ref#313, p54).

PURIFY THE HEART

“God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart” (2 Chron 32:31 ESV).

“[T]he fruitful branch ‘he purgeth,’ or pruneth—stripping it of what is rank and luxuriant, freeing it from those barren shoots that absorb the sap, and hinder real fruitfulness. [T]he ways in which he does it [is] by afflictions and chastisements and above all, by the effectual operation of his Spirit” Charles Ross (ref#241, p121).

“It is for discipline that you have to endure” (Heb 12:7 ESV).

“The LORD is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him” (Deut 13:3 ESV).

“[G]reat fruitfulness sprang from [the believers] great afflictions. In the very act of going to Christ, just as he is, the believer brings forth fruit. For what marks the frame of the soul traveling to the cross, but self-distrust, self-abasement, deep conceptions of its own nothingness, and high views of Christ’s sufficiency? Is this not precious and costly fruit? I know of none more so” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Aug 21st).

“To prepare us for Glory, God first of all fills in the valleys of our lives. This refers to the low places in our hearts that need to be filled with confidence in God” Bob Sorge (ref#197, p16).

“You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night, you have tested me” (Ps 17:3 ESV).

PARTAKER OF HOLINESS

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid” (Prov 12:1 ESV).

“Out of heaven [God] let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you” (Deut 4:36 ESV).

“If God has brought you into the desert, His heart intention for your desert is that a highway of holiness might be built in your heart upon which He can ride as He comes to you with deliverance power” Bob Sorge (ref#197, p16).

“God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? [God] disciplines us for our own good, that we may share his holiness” (Heb 12:7,10 ESV).

“[B]ecoming more deeply schooled in the lesson of God’s holiness is worth all the discipline you have ever passed through. One very common cause of all our declensions from the Lord will be found wrapped up in the crude and superficial views that we entertain of the character of God as a God of infinite purity. He wants His people to study and to learn this truth, not by sermons, books, hearsay nor theory but in the school of loving chastisement—personally and experimentally. Thus, seeing this divine perfection more closely and through a clearer medium, the believer is changed more perfectly into the same moral image. ‘He for our profit that we might be partakers of his holiness’ (Heb 12:10)” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, June 1st).

KNOWING WE ARE DUST

“If we are truly [God’s] in this world, we are ready to come down and humble ourselves, to be misunderstood, to be laughed at and treated with scorn and derision, in a sense to be crucified—certainly in spirit, perhaps even in body” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#332, p523).

“[E]ven the greatest saints, though realizing that they can only be strong in the grace of God, and not in themselves, are nevertheless more sure than they ought to be of their own bravery and persistence, unless [God] leads them by the trails of life into a deeper knowledge of themselves. This proud idea induced even David to say: “As for me, I said in my prosperity, ‘I shall never be moved.’ By your favor, O LORD, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed” (Ps 30:6-7 ESV). Though in prosperity many saints have flattered themselves with perseverance and patience, yet they learned that they had deceived themselves when adversity broke down their resistance” John Calvin (ref#313, p48).

“God chooses to exercise his children with continual conflict, so that they may flee with alarm to hide themselves under his wings, where they may abide in peace” John Calvin (ref#164, March 30th).

“It is by feeling our utter insufficiency, either to perform duty or to withstand our enemies, that the Lord takes occasion to show us the suitableness, the sufficiency, the freeness, the unchangeableness of his power and grace” John Newton (ref#322, p182).

God’s Presence Makes Glad

When I can sit at Jesus’ feet,

And he anoints my head,

Such peace ensues, so calm and sweet,

I think my foes all dead.

My simple heart then fondly dreams,

It will see war no more;

Too firm to shrink my mountain seems,

And every storm blows o’er.

Then Jesus sends a trying hour,

This lurking pride to quell;

My dead foes rise with dreadful power,

And drag me down to hell.

Now faints my heart within me quite,

My mountain disappears;

All grace is vanished from my sight,

And faith seems lost in fears.

At length my Lord, with sweet surprise,

Returns to loose my bands,

Brings kind compassion in his eyes,

And pardon in his hands.

I drop my vile head in the dust,

And at my Lord’s feet fall;

His grace is now my song and boast,

And Christ my All in All.

     John Berridge (ref#224, Song #336)