This week's 'thoughts' come from the book "Christian Prayers and Devotions," by James S. Bell Jr. and Tracy Macon Summer. Actually, it's full title is, "The Complete Idiots Guide to Christian Prayers and Devotions." Its title makes it sound like it's light on content, which is anything but true. It's a goldmine of collected prayers and devotions gathered from every age and various sources.
This weeks 'thoughts' come from various people, yet all address the same topic - Trusting God through the struggles, trials and hardships of life.
As with any really good advice on this topic, it comes from those who had their share of difficulties -- people who speak and write out of their own experiences with suffering. It's not advice from those who have lived a protected or pampered life. After all, it would be hard to hear advice on such a topic from one who has never been driven to the depths of soul struggle by the actual experience of intense pain, or physical and emotional affliction. I offer their words to you for your edification, exhortation and encouragement. I trust they will strengthen your resolve in Christ. Enjoy.
Philip Doddridge on Trust In Affliction:
"Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy." (James 1:2) God Himself has said: 'No matter what happens, always be thankful' (I Thess. 5:18). He also teaches us, His servants, to say, 'We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials' (Rom. 5:3).
True believers can be assured that afflictions are tokens of God's mercy, for, 'the Lord disciplines those he loves, and punishes those he accepts as His children' (Hebrews 12:6). So you can see your troubles as loving discipline, and then realize that God's love deserves our praise.
When you are going through difficult times, say to yourself, 'It is through these things that God is conforming me to the image of His Son. He is preparing me and training me for complete glory by removing the flaws in my character. He is making me a more gracious and patient person. He is working wisely to bring me nearer to Himself and to make me ready for His heavenly kingdom. Though His disciplines may not be pleasant, God certainly knows far better than I what I need. He knows exactly what I need in order to accomplish the very best in me and for me, and will graciously and lovingly accomplish just that. This tribulation will help me 'learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, as well as more confidence in Him. I will know beyond all doubt how much God loves me' (Rom. 3:3-5). God's love shines through my affliction like the sun through a cloud, sprinkling light upon the shade and mingling fruitfulness with my tears.'"
"Lord, preserve us this day and strengthen us to bear whatever you see fit to lay on us, whether pain, sickness, danger or distress; through Jesus Christ our Lord."
"I do not know, my God, what may happen to me today. I only know nothing will happen to me that you have not foreseen from all eternity, and that is sufficient, my God, to keep me in peace.
I adore your eternal designs. I submit to them with all my heart. I desire them all and accept them all. I make a sacrifice of everything. I unite this sacrifice to that of your dear Son, my Savior, begging you by His infinite merits, for patience in troubles, and the perfect submission which is due to you in all that you will and design for me."
"Alone with none but Thee, my God,
I journey on my way.
What need I fear, when Thou art near,
O King of night and day?
More safe am I within Thy hand,
Than if an host dids't round me stand."
A Prayer of Ignatius of Loyola:
"Christ Jesus, when all is darkness and we feel our weakness and helplessness, give us the sense of your presence, your love, and your strength. Help us to have perfect trust in your protecting love and sustaining power, so that nothing may frighten or worry us, for, living close to you, we shall see your hand, your purpose and your will through all things. Amen."
Who could say more? In the Bonds of Christian fellowship,