AFFLICTION IS DISGUISED BLESSINGS

“[So Paul] wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become” (2 Cor 12:7-10 MSG).

“When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it” (2 Cor 1:6-7 MSG).

“[T]he love of God changes the aspect of everything! Afflictions are then seen to be ‘disguised blessings’; trials [as] proofs of divine faithfulness” Octavius Winslow (ref#256, p32).

“[M]y Lord Jesus has fully recompensed my sadness with His joyS, my losses with His own presence. I find it a sweet and rich thing to exchange my sorrows with Himself” Samuel Rutherford (ref#225, Dec 30th).

“In the middle of domestic trials, family changes, thwarted designs, and shattered hopes, God has made an everlasting covenant with you in the hands of Jesus, its Surety and Mediator. [U]ncertainty is a fundamental component of everything temporal. Let, then, the covenant be your comfort and your stay, your anchor in the storm” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, April 30th).

“Scripture praises the saints for their patience when they are severely afflicted by their adversities, but not broken and overcome by them; when they are bitterly distressed, but nevertheless filled with spiritual joy; when they are weighed down by anxiety and become exhausted, and yet leap for joy because of the divine consolation” John Calvin (ref#313, p61-62).

“[Y]our suffering, losses, and persecution will be a platform from which you can witness for Christ Jesus even more vigorously, and with greater power. Study your great Exemplar, and be filled with His Spirit” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Nov 7th PM).

FAITH IN SUFFERING

Discouragement focuses more on the broken glories of creation than it does on the restoring glories of God’s character, presence, and promises. [The Israelites heading for the promise land] had been promised a land of their own, but what they got was a place filled with people who didn’t want them there. What they saw as being in the way of God’s plan was actually part of his plan; what caused their faith to weaken was actually God’s tool to build their faith. He knows just how he will use what makes you afraid in order to build your faith. He is not surprised by the troubles you face, and he surely has no intention of leaving you to face those things on your own. He stands with you in power, glory, goodness, wisdom and grace. He can defeat what you can’t, and he intends these troubles to be not enemies that finish you but tools of grace that transform you” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, June 25th).

“[L]et those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator” (1 Pet 4:19 NASB).

“I did not know I was so unbelieving until the Lord tried my faith. I never imagined that I was so impatient, self-willed, and restless until God led me to wear the yoke and wait His will. I never supposed that my strength was so small until the Lord laid the burden on me. Little did I know how limited was my knowledge of Christ, how deficient was my acquaintance with divine truth, and how far my heart was from true prayer, until the affliction of my God set me examining my resources to meet it. Then I discovered how shallow was my experience, and how low and meager was my Christianity” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Feb 26th).

“[It] would be a very sharp and trying experience to me to think that I have an affliction which God never sent me, that the bitter cup was never filled by his hand, that my trials were never measured out by him, not sent to me by his arrangement of their weight and quantity. If you drink of the river of affliction near its outfall, it is brackish and offensive to the taste, but if you will trace it to its source, where it rises at the foot of the throne of God, you will find its waters to be sweet and health-giving” Charles Spurgeon (“The Anguish and Agonies of Charles Spurgeon” [Christian History, Issue 29], p25).

“[W]here there is faith in the Lord Jesus, there is love; and where there is love, there is obedience; and where there is obedience, there is happiness; and where there is happiness, the soul can rejoice even in tribulation and sit and sing sweetly and merrily in adversity. [A]ll things in your history are for your good, and this calamity, this affliction, this loss, is among those things” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Sept 21st).

“Rejoice in the LORD always; again I will say, rejoice. [B]y prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:4, 6 ESV).

TESTS OF FAITH

“If you possess real faith, even in the smallest degree, expect faith’s conflict and trial. The existence of faith seems to necessarily imply the endurance of suffering—not because of an intrinsic defeat in faith, but in consequence of impurity of the heart in which that faith is lodged. The trials and temptations, therefore, with which God visits His people are designed as tests of faith” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, March 26th).

“You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (James 1:2-4 MSG).

GOD constrains us but that doesn’t mean the thing will be easy to do. We’ll have to be very sensitive to the situations He puts in our lives to bolster our faith enough that we will be willing to do the thing.

[A] person because of the conscious sense of his relation to God bears up under pain, suffering unjustly. [T]o this very thing were you called [namely, to patient endurance in the case of unjust punishment], because Christ also suffered on your behalf, leaving behind for you a model to imitate, in order that by close application you might follow in His footprints” (1Peter 2:19, 21 Wuest).

“[F]or a little while [I have been] grieved by various trials so that the tested genuineness of [my] faith may be found to result in praise and glory and honor” (1 Pet 1:6-7 ESV).

GRACE MUST BE TRIED

“If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword he must be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints” (Rev:13:10 ESV).

The Trial of Faith

Jehovah has said, ‘tis left on record,

‘The righteous are one with Jesus the Lord;’

At all times he loves them; ‘twas for them he died;

Yet ofttimes he proves them, for grace must be tried.

When faint in the way, or lifeless and cold,

Or sunk in dismay, and none to uphold;

Yet firm to his promise thy God shall abide;

But grace, though the smallest, shall surely be tried.

[Temptations and sins in legions shall rise,

As spears in thy side or thorns in thy eyes;

And oft, to thy sorrow, his face he shall hide,

For God has determined his grace shall be tried.]

With him on the mount today thou shalt be,

Indulged by thy Lord his glory to see;

There he may caress thee, and call thee his bride,

Yet grace, though he bless thee, shall surely be tired.

[The tempest shall blow, the billows shall swell,

Thy soul, full of woe, shall pass as through hell;

And all this to prove thee, to stain thy cursed pride;

Yet still he will love thee; but grace must be tried.]

He’ll ne’er thee forsake, but surely perform

His word though he take his way in the storm;

Yea, oft in the clouds of dejection he’ll ride,

For he has determined his grace shall be tried.

As gold from the flame, he’ll bring thee at last,

To praise him for all through which thou hast past;

Then love everlasting thy griefs shall repay,

And God from thy eyes wipe all sorrows away” J. Kent (ref#224, song#297).

“Count if all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, for the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4 ESV).

IN FAITH WE WAIT

“Faith listens neither to Presumption, nor to Despair, nor to Cowardice, nor to Hastiness, but it hears God say, ‘Stand still”; and immovable as a rock, it stands. ‘Stand still.’ Keep the posture of an upright man; ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice. It will not be long before God will say to you, as distinctly as He told Moses to say it to the people of Israel, ‘Go forward’ (Exod. 14:15)” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, July 24th AM).

In faith we wait. “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness” (Gal 5:5 ESV).

So, instead of following the commandments of the law we wait—by just waiting we obtain righteousness. If you have never waited for righteousness, waiting sounds too simple but it is the hardest thing anyone does.

While we wait GOD orchestrates affliction upon affliction into our lives. Challenges, temptations, everyday uncomfortable situations—He presses us as much as we can take and even more, to the point He may have to come and save us (1 Cor 10:13).

We must live on faith that what is happening to us is good. We understand that our glorious FATHER afflicts in love for He must put an end to our self who loves unrighteousness—who loves to tote self above everything.

He makes us righteous by reminding us that He has put our old way of life to death. We learn to run to CHRIST who is the One who saves us from the overwhelming affliction. Our goal is to learn to depend entirely on CHRIST, shunning self.

And, our waiting for righteous is a constant; we never arrive—we never graduate out of affliction on this earth for our old self, at any moment, can rise up threatening to rule us again plummeting us back into unrighteousness by convincing us we can be righteous by following rules.

“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the over, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith” (Luke 12:27-28 ESV).

GOING THROUGH AFFLICTION SPIRIT LED

“Without [God] all within me is terror and dismay, in him every accusation is charmed into joy and peace” The Valley of Vision (ref#76, p158).

“Suffering brings discouragements, because of our impatience. But if God brings us into the trial he will be with us in the trial, and at length brings us out, more refined. We shall lose nothing but dross (Zech 13:9). From our own strength we cannot bear the least trouble, but by the Spirit’s assistance we can bear the greatest. The Spirit will add his shoulders to help us to bear our infirmities. The Lord will give his hand to heave us up (Ps 37:24)” Richard Sibbes (ref#311, p54-55).

“If we do a thing in order to overcome depression, we deepen the depression; but if the Spirit of God makes us feel intuitively that we must do the thing, and we do it, the depression is gone” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Feb 17th).

“You carry a hell around with you. Although you are regenerate, there is much of the old man in the new man. [O]ne reason why God has left original sin in us, so that it can be a thorn in our side to humble us. Under our silver wings of grace are black feet. Let the sense of this make us daily look up to heaven for help. Beg Christ’s blood to wash away the guilt of sin, and His Spirit to mortify the power of it. Beg further degrees of grace. [T]hough grace cannot make sin not to be, yet it makes it not to reign; though grace cannot expel sin it can repel it” Thomas Watson (ref#225, Aug 1st).

“”[T]he Spirit sanctifies the soul through the medium of God’s afflictive dispensations. They deepen the work of grace in the heart, awaken the soul from its spiritual drowsiness, empty it, humble it, and lay it low, and thus lead to prayer, to self-examination, and to the atoning blood once more. In this way, and by these means, the believer advances in holiness ‘through sanctification of the Spirit.’ [W]e are being made perfect through suffering. The heart has been emptied of its self-confidence. The affections that were seduced from God have returned to their rest; the ties that bound us to the vanities of a world, perishing in its very use, have become loosened; the engagements that absorbed our sympathies and secularized our minds have lost their fascination and their power; the beguiling and treacherous enjoyments that wove their spell around us have grown tasteless and insipid. And thus by all these blessed and hallowed results of our trial, the image of the earthly has become more entirely effaced and the image of the heavenly more deeply engraved and more distinctly legible” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Dec 8th).

“All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too” (2 Cor 1:3-5 MSG).

COMFORT FOR THE CAST DOWN

“Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I  pray. O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch” (Ps 5:1-3 ESV).

“How does God comfort those who are cast down? His methods are various. He adapts the comfort to the sorrow. He first writes the sentence of death on any comfort other than Himself. He suspended all human channels of comfort to prepare you for the fulfillment of His own exceeding great and precious promise: ‘I even I, am he that comforteth you’ (Isa 51;12). Be sure that it is God and not man who comforts you—that your consolation is divine, and not human. It may be the duty of your minister and privilege of your friend to speak a promise to your ear, and to spread out before you the riches of divine comfort in the Word; but it is the prerogative of the Holy Spirit alone to apply the promise and to give a heartfelt possession of those comforts. Let no one comfort you except God Himself” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, May 22nd).

“[T]he commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life” (Prov 6:23 ESV).

“Divinely loved ones [divinely love by God], stop thinking that the smelting process which is [operating] among you and which has come to you for the purpose of testing [you], is a thing alien to you, but insofar as you share in common with the sufferings of Christ, be rejoicing, in order that also at the time of the unveiling of His glory, you may rejoice exultingly. In view of the fact that you have cast in your teeth, as it were, revilings because of the Name of Christ, spiritually prosperous [are you], because the Spirit of the Glory, even the Spirit of God, is resting with refreshing power upon you” (1 Pet 4:12-14 Wuest).

Overwhelming affliction

Insurmountable problems

Revel in them, revel

Revel, I say, revel.

For surely they will end

Then surely I will say,

“It was not by my own hand (Jud 7:2)”

But the LORD that helped me stand.

STRENGTH FOR EACH DAY

“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matt 10:30 ESV).

“[R]emember Psalm 139: ‘Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them’ (v16). [E]very single day of your life was written into God’s book before you lived the very first of them. He carefully authored the content of every one of those days with his own hand. This is where rest and courage are to be found when discouragement shakes the resolve of your heart” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, July 1st).

“[Y]ou lifted me out of the depths. I called to you for help and you healed me” (Ps 30:1-2 NIV).

As Thy Days, So Shall Thy Strength Be

“Afflicted saint, to Christ draw near,

Thy Saviour’s gracious promise hear;

His faithful word declares to thee,

That as thy days, thy strength shall be.

Let not thy heart despond, and say,

‘How shall I stand the trying day?’

He has engaged, by firm decree,

That as thy days, thy strength shall be.

Thy faith is weak, thy foes are strong;

And if the conflict should be long,

Thy Lord will make the tempter flee;

For as thy days, thy strength shall be.

Should persecution rage and flame,

Still trust in thy Redeemer’s name;

In fiery trials thou shalt see,

That as thy days, thy strength shall be.

When called to bear the weighty cross,

Or sore affliction, pain, or loss,

Or deep distress, or poverty,

Still, as thy days, thy strength shall be”  J. Fawcett (ref#224, song #328).

OVERWHELMED WITH GRIEF

Safety in God

“When, overwhelmed with grief,

My heart within me dies,

Helpless and far from all relief,

To heaven I lift my eyes.

O lead me to the Rock

That’s high above my head.

And make the covert of thy wings

My shelter and my shade!

Within thy presence, Lord,

For ever I’d abide;

Thou art the Tower of my defense,

The Refuge where I hide.          Isaac Watts (ref#224, song #140).

“Turn every loss of creature-good into an occasion for greater nearness to Christ. The dearest and liveliest creature is only a cistern of inferior and limited good. If it contains any sweetness, the Lord put it there. If, instead of leading you to, it draws you from the Fountain, the Lord will, in unerring wisdom, tender mercy, and faithful love, break it so that you can learn that, while no creature can substitute for Him, He Himself can substitute for all creatures. Thus His friendship, His love, and His presence are frequently the sweetest and most fully enjoyed when He has taken everything else away. Jesus loves you far too much to allow another, however dear, to eclipse and rival Him” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, March 21st).

“The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him” (Nahum 1:7 ESV).

“When you pass through the waters, [He] will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For [He is] the LORD your God” (Isa 43:2-3 ESV).

GOD’S COMFORT IN AFFLICTION

“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it” (1 Cor 10:13 MSG).

“Tried soul, go to this unfailing spring of comfort. God speaks to you in it. It is the unsealing of the heart of Jesus; it is the still small voice of the Spirit. It speaks to you. It bids you ‘cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee’ (Ps 55:22). Call on Him in the day of trouble, and He will answer you (Ps 86:7). It assures you that, amid all your confusing cares, ‘He careth for you’ (1 Pet 5:7). It promises you that, for your difficult path, your ‘shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be’ (Deut 33:25)” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Dec 13th).

“If [you are] journeying to the heavenly kingdom, [your] path lies through much tribulation. [I]f [your] sufferings abound, much more so do [your] consolations” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Jan 28th).

“Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name” (Ps 33:20-21 ESV).

“[T]he more we are afflicted with adversity, the surer we are made of our fellowship with Christ” John Calvin (ref#113, p458).