Archive for the ‘suffering’ Category

Of a particular trial John Newton wrote:

he it is that hath laid this trial on me for my good. I believe it to be necessary, because he is pleased to appoint it; and, though at present it is not joyous, but grievous, I trust that in the end he will cause it to yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness. I desire to submit to his will in all things; and though I feel the depravity of my nature too often, yet, upon the whole, he enables me to trust to him, and leave all in his hands.

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Suffering in a good cause should rather sharpen than blunt the edge of holy resolution. MATTHEW HENRY, THESSALONIANS

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Quotes from: Jon Bloom, Will You Wrestle with God?

What do you really need from God right now? What blessing do you want from him? How badly do you want it?

There are times when God only releases his blessings on us after a season of prolonged and even painful wrestling with him.

God even afflicted Jacob with a debilitating injury. This had the effect of making Jacob even more vulnerable to Esau, forcing Jacob’s faith to more fully rest on God and not himself. If necessary, God will cause us to limp to increase our faith.

When God calls us to wrestle with him, there’s always more going on than we first understand and God always uses it to transform us for good.

Do Not Let God Go Until He Blesses You!

God will meet you in your anguish, fear, and uncertainty. But he may not meet you in the way you expect or desire. Your greatest ally may show up looking at first like your adversary, inciting you to wrestle with him.

If so, remember Jacob. There are multiple blessings in the wrestling. You may not need soft words of comfort, you may not need to be left alone with your thoughts, you may not need sleep, you may not even need a healthy hip! What you need is God’s blessing!

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Patterned lives

Such sufferings are not meaningless but are part of God’s providential plan that Christians should pattern in their lives after the sacrificial model of Jesus. (Beale, Revelation p.389)

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Behold, God is mighty, and does not despise any;
he is mighty in strength of understanding.

He does not keep the wicked alive,
ut gives the afflicted their right.

He does not withdraw his eyes from the righteous,
but with kings on the throne he sets them forever, and they are exalted.

And if they are bound in chains and caught in the cords of affliction,
then he declares to them their work and their transgressions, that they are behaving arrogantly.

He opens their ears to instruction and commands that they return from iniquity.
If they listen and serve him, they complete their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasantness.
But if they do not listen, they perish by the sword and die without knowledge.

The godless in heart cherish anger; they do not cry for help when he binds them.
They die in youth, and their life ends among the cult prostitutes.

He delivers the afflicted by their affliction
and opens their ear by adversity.

He also allured you out of distress into a broad place where there was no cramping,
and what was set on your table was full of fatness.

(Job 36:5-16)

Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts.

(Proverbs 20:30)

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We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It’s not our home

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

Writers: Laura Story, Liz Story © Story Duke Music, Laura Stories, New Spring Publishing Inc., Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

(Click on her Blessing album and then the song called ‘Blessings’)

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At first what our heart feels is that we cannot square this with our God as we imagined Him, as we had dreamed Him to be. The God we had, we lose, and then it costs so much bitter conflict of soul, before refined and purified in our knowledge of God, we grasp another, and now the only true God in the place thereof.

[Thus the first lesson is, that in everyday life we learn to submit to an higher appointment and bow before an Omnipotence against which we can do nothing. This seems dreadful. But it is the discovery in actual life of God as God.]

As long as we have only started on the way to the cross, we fancy ourselves the main object at stake; it is our happiness, our honor, our future – and God added in. According to our idea we are at the center of things, and God is there to make us happy. The Father is for the sake of the child. And God’s confessed Almightiness is solely and alone to serve our interest. This is an idea of God which is false through and through, which turns the order around and, taken in its real sense, makes self God, and God our servant.

For this false knowledge of God the cross (i.e. suffering) removes all foundation. Cast down by your sorrow and grief, you become suddenly aware that this great God does not measure nor direct the course of things according to your desire; that in his plan there are other motives that operate entirely outside of your preferences. Then you must submit, you must bend. You stand before it in utter impotence, and from this selfsame heaven, in which thus far you saw nothing but the play of light and clouds, darkness now enters into your soul, the clap of thunder reverberates in your heart, and the flaming bolt of lightning fills you with dismay.

This is the discovery of God’s reality, of his Majesty which utterly overwhelms you, of an Almightiness which absorbs within itself you and everything you call yours. And for the first time you feel what it is to confront the living God. Now you know him!

And then begins the new endeavor of the soul, to learn to understand this real God. Then begins the questioning, the guessing, the pondering, why this Almighty God should be the way he is and do the things he does. Then the troubled heart seeks this in the after-effects of the past. It seeks this in the purpose for which the cross was laid upon us, and in the fruit which it shall bear in the unraveling of eternity. For a long time it still remains the endeavor of finding the explanation of God’s doing solely and alone in ourselves.

Then the soul makes a still further advance. It abandons the theory of Job’s friends and, like Job, receives the answer from God himself out of the whirlwind. It now learns to understand how God’s appointment covers all suns and stars, all hours and centuries, and causes all creatures to revolve themselves around him, the Eternal One, as the one and only center; and, therefore, his council and plan are as high as heaven and consequently exceeded our comprehension. It learns that, not the verification of his council, but entering into the life of it, whether it be through joy, whether it be through sorrow, is our honor and the self-exaltation of our soul.

Source: Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920), excerpt from “To Be Near Unto God” in Nancy Guthrie, Be Still My Soul: Embracing God’s Purpose & Provision in Suffering, 75-79.

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Terrible pain

When the sword pierces, all it feels like is terrible pain. But later we discover that our deepest wounding often becomes the channel through which the most profound grace flows.

Source: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/when-a-sword-pierces-your-soul

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Thus the promise of God, which had exalted [Joseph] to honour, almost plunges him into the grave.  We, also, who have received the gratuitous adoption of God amidst many sorrows, experience the same thing.  For, from the time that Christ gathers us into his flock, God permits us to be cast down in various ways, so that we seem nearer to hell than heaven.  Therefore, let the example of Joseph be fixed in our minds, that we be not disquieted when many crosses spring forth to us from the root of God’s favour.  For I have before showed, and the thing itself clearly testifies, that in Joseph was adumbrated [foreshadowed], what was afterwards more fully exhibited in Christ, the Head of the Church, in order that each member may form itself to the imitation of his example.

Source: John Calvin on Genesis 37

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John Flavel, in 1678, instructs readers to see God as the author of all circumstances in life, including suffering:

Set before you the sovereignty of God. Eye Him as the Being infinitely superior to you, at whose pleasure you and all your have subsist (Psalm 115:3), which is the most conclusive reason and argument for submission (Psalm 46:10). For if we, all we have proceeded from His will, how right is it that we be resigned up to it!

Set the grace and goodness of God before you in all afflictive providences. O see Him passing by you i the cloudy and dark day, proclaiming His name, ‘The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious’ (Exodus 34:6).

Eye the wisdom of God in all your afflictions. Behold it in the choice of the kind of your affliction, this, and not another; the time, now and not at another season; the degree, in this measure only, and not in a greater; the supports offered you under it, not left altogether helpless; the issue to which it is overruled, it is to your good, not ruin.

Set the faithfulness of the Lord before you under the saddest providences. 
O what quietness will this breed! I see my God will not lose my heart, if a rod can prevent it. he would rather hear me groan here than howl hereafter. His love is judicious, not fond. He consults my good rather than my ease.

Eye the all-sufficiency of God in the day of affliction. See enough in Him still, whatever is gone. Here is the fountain still as full as ever, though this or that pipe is cut off, which was wont to convey somewhat of it to me.

Lastly, eye the immutablity of God. Look on Him as the Rock of ages, ‘The Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1:17). Eye Jesus Christ as ‘the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.’

The Mystery of Providence, 1678, (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2006), 130-132

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