(James Smith, "The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble" 1842)
"The Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes every one He accepts as a son." Hebrews 12:6
Afflicted Christian, you are perhaps tempted to think that God cannot love you--or He would not so deeply try you. But the reverse is the case--if He did not love you, He might perhaps refuse to try you. But because He loves you, and is a Father to you--therefore He corrects you.
All of the Lord's children need correction! Many of them will not grow without very severe discipline--consequently your heavenly Father says, "I will melt them, and try them." "I will turn My hand upon you--and will purge away your dross."
Look to the generations of old, and see if the Lord's people in every age have not been an afflicted people. Look at Job, at the prophets, at Lazarus; God tenderly loved them--and yet how severely He tried them. He has commanded an earthly parent to chasten his son, and not to let his soul spare for his crying--and by this rule He also proceeds. He chastens us--that He may not destroy us. There is infinite mercy in your present trial--as dreadful as it may appear to you. There was an absolute necessity for it--for He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve His redeemed children.
He takes pleasure in the spiritual prosperity of His people--and therefore He uses means to promote it. He has received you as a son, and He is now . . .
using His paternal authority;
manifesting His infinite wisdom;
fulfilling His gracious covenant;
making good His precious promises;
and displaying His unutterable love!
Every one who is . . .
adopted into His family;
quickened by His grace;
and united to Jesus--
is made to pass under the rod, and prove the truth of the Scripture which says, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous--but the Lord delivers him out of them all."
He chastens you, not for His own pleasure or gratification, but for your profit--that you might be a partaker of His holiness. What a gracious design is this--every way worthy of God. It affords full proof of His infinite wisdom, care, and love!
Think within yourself:
I could not do without this affliction;
it is sent in love;
it is intended to do me good;
it is a proof that I am a child of God
--and you will then think rightly.
Do not despise the chastening of the Lord, by thinking that you could have done as well without it; or that there was no necessity for it. Depend upon it, you must either be . . .
Do not faint when the Lord rebukes you. He has promised you, that as your day is--so shall your strength be. He says to you, "Do not fear--for I am with you; do not be afraid--for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand!" Isaiah 41:10. Precious promise of a faithful God! He made it in love. He has not forgotten it--no, He intends to make it good. Yes, He is now making it good to you--as tried and afflicted as you are.
The rod which afflicts you, is in the hand of Jesus! In that hand which was once nailed to the cross for your redemption! In the hand of that Friend who loves at all times; and who is a Brother born for adversity. Will Jesus who suffered, bled, and died to redeem you--ever hurt you? Surely not! His heart is too tender! His love is too great! "He will not break the bruised reed--and He will not quench the smoking flax!" He will bind up the broken heart, and comfort the sorrowful spirit.
You say, "He is sorely trying me!" True--but He is only making you fit to partake of the inheritance of the saints in light. They are . . .
As sharp they may be--short they must be.
Humble yourself then under the mighty hand of God;
mourn before Him;
surrender all to Him;
plead with Him;
justify Him--and . . .
the rod will soon fall from His hand,
the scourging will soon be over, and
peaceable fruits of righteousness will make their appearance.
Look up to your God, and say:
Submissive to Your will, my God,
I all to you resign;
I bow before Your chastening rod,
And mourn, but not repine!
Why should my foolish heart complain,
When wisdom, truth, and love,
Direct the stroke, inflict the pain,
And point to joys above?
How short are all my sufferings here!
How needful every cross!
Away then, my unbelieving fear,
Nor call my gain, my loss.
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