Our heavenly Father sends us frequent troubles to test our faith. If our faith is worth anything, it will stand the test. Gilt is afraid of fire, but gold is not: The imitation gem dreads being touched by the diamond, but the true jewel fears no test. It is a poor faith that can only trust God when friends are true, the body is healthy, and the business profitable; but it is true faith that rests in the Lord's faithfulness when friends are gone, the body is ailing, spirits are depressed, and the light of our Father's face is hidden. A faith that can say, in the deepest trouble, "Though he slay me, I will hope in him"1 is heaven-born faith.
The Lord afflicts His servants to glorify Himself, for He is greatly glorified in the graces of His people, who are His own handiwork. When "suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope,"2 the Lord is honored by these growing virtues. We would never know the music of the harp if the strings were left untouched, nor enjoy the juice of the grape if it were not trodden in the winepress, nor discover the sweet perfume of cinnamon if it were not pressed and beaten, nor feel the warmth of fire if the coals were not completely consumed. The wisdom and power of God are discovered by the trials through which His children are permitted to pass.
Present afflictions tend also to heighten future joy. There must be shade in the picture to bring out the beauty of the light. Could we be so supremely blessed in heaven if we had not known the curse of sin and the sorrow of earth? Will peace not be sweeter after conflict, and rest more welcome after labor? Will the recollection of past sufferings not serve to enhance the bliss of the glorified?
There are many other comfortable answers to the question with which we opened our brief meditation; let us think upon it all day long.
As Christians, we become transformed by the renewing of our minds. Ultimately, how we think, as shaped by our hearing the Word of God, will determine how we will live for God’s glory.
Author and pastor Sinclair Ferguson describes this transformative process in what he describes as a ‘blueprint for sanctification’. Devoted to God builds a strong and reliable framework for practical Christian living, stressing several fundamental issues, such as: union with Christ, spiritual growth, the reality of spiritual conflict, and the role of God’s law.
Here is a fresh approach to an always relevant subject, and a working manual to which we can turn again and again for biblical instruction and spiritual direction.