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Greetings All,

This weeks 'thought' comes once again from Charles Spurgeon. He is a wealth of insight and spiritual wisdom,... I was going to say, "despite the fact that he suffered greatly with the pain and inflamation of gout and frequent depressions." But then I realized it would be better to say, "because he suffered greatly...." People who have suffered much seem far more able to understand and apply spiritual truth. The psalmist essentially said that when he wrote in Psalm 119:71: "It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn your decrees."

This weeks thought gives us a clue as to why afflictions may come and how we can/should tend to view and respond to them. I offer it to you from a well-seasoned 19th century saint who was far from being unfamiliar with suffering. I trust his words to you will encourage you. Enjoy.

"Gold is put into the furnace precisely because it is gold (Prov. 17:3). It is useless to refine hay and stubble there. A first rate diamond will undergo more cutting than an inferior one. The great Owner of heaven's jewels uses a sharper cutting machine on the most valuable stones. Our King desires that we have many facets to reflect the glory of His name.

You often think that Jesus does not care because He has not interposed with a great miracle. Gradually, you are getting poorer or becoming more afflicted in body. You had hoped for a miracle. My dear friend, sometimes God works a greater wonder when He sustains people in trouble than by delivering them. To let the bush burn with fire and not be consumed (Exodus 3:2) is a greater thing than quenching the flame and saving the bush.

Possibly, the hard suspicion that Jesus does not care takes another form. I do not ask the Lord to work a miracle. But I do ask Him to cheer my heart and apply the promises to my soul. I want His Spirit to visit me so that my pain may be forgotten in the delight of the Savior's presence... yet to my regret He hides His face, and this makes my trial all the heavier.

What a mercy that you can never sink lower than grace! When you come to your lowest point, God interposes. The tide turns when the wave reaches its lowest ebb... Believer, be of good courage."

Those who have suffered will know his words ring with truth. Just when we thought we could not go on -- when the receding wave of a particular trial had pulled us out to the point we thought we would drown, we discovered that the next incoming wave of grace, rather than swamping us, carried us toward the shore and threw us upon the safety of the beach. Frequently it is not until we are at out wits end that God chooses to remove or lighten the load of our trials.

We would prefer a quicker intervention of grace. We would prefer divine assistance before we ever got to that point. But God in His wisdom knows what we (like Paul) tend to learn only from experience: "This [intensely agonizing trial -- verses 8-9] happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead" (II Cor. 1:10).

In the Bonds of Christian Charity, Pastor Jeff

Dr. Jeffrey F. Evans