The words that follow are wise words from a man who did much for the Lord, but also suffered much (physically and emotionally) in the process. In that sense he shares what he learned from personal experience, and not from the perspective of a sheltered and pampered person trying to tell others how to handle struggles and adversities he himself never had to endure. I trust that for those who have had to walk through difficult times, his words will ring true. Enjoy.
"A child of God is not expected to be a stoic, for God's grace takes away the unfeeling heart of stone. When we endure trials, we feel the pain. Do not ask to be made hard, numb and callous, for this is not how grace works. Grace makes us strong to bear trials, but we still have to bear them. Grace gives patience and submission, not stoicism. We feel, and we benefit by the feeling [even if it is painful in nature].
There are some who will not cry when God chastens, and others who will not yield when God strikes. Do not be like them! Be content to have Job's suffering heart (Job 1:21). Feel the bitter spirit and the anguish of soul which racked that blessed patriarch.
My dear friend, when grief presses you to the dust, worship there! Remember David's words, 'Pour out your heart.' But do not stop there; finish the quotation: 'Pour out your heart before the Lord.' Turn your heart upside down, empty it, and let every drop run out. 'Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us' (Psalm 62:8). When you are bowed down beneath a heavy burden of sorrow, worship and adore God there. In surrender to His divine will, say with Job, 'Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him' (Job 13:15). This kind of worship subdues the will, arouses the affections, stirs the whole mind, and presents you to God in solemn consecration. This worship sweetens sorrow and takes away its sting...
Sanctified adversity quickens spiritual sensitivity. Sorrow after sorrow will wake the spirit and infuse a delicacy of perception that perhaps will not come in any other way. I purposely said 'perhaps', for I believe that some choice saints are favored to reach God by smoother ways. But I think they are few. Most of us are so coarse that we need melting to attain that sacred softness by which the Lord God is joyfully perceived.
Child of God, if you are suffering as much as Job, and if your suffering permits you to see the Lord with a spiritually enlightened eye, be thankful for the sorrowful process. Who would not go with John to the island of Patmos if they could see John's visions (Rev. 1:9-19 / Rev. 21). Who would not sit with Job in the ashes and cry, 'Yet in my flesh I shall see God, I myself will see Him with my own eyes -- I and not another. How my heart yearns within me!'... In prosperity God is heard, and that is a blessing. In adversity, God is seen, and that is a greater blessing."
Trials that cause deep emotional pain are very hard indeed, often the hardest of all. In fact, sometimes it seems they will break the heart beyond repair. Yet, painful as they are, they are one of the ways God instructs, purifies and grows us. The pain or hurt that comes is not meant to harm us, but to heal us.
This process is an example of what Isaiah says even in regard to the unbelieving Egyptians: "The Lord will strike Egypt with a plague: He will strike them and heal them. They will turn to the Lord, and He will respond to their pleas and heal them" (Is. 19:22).
Psalm 119:67 gives us the same message: "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word." Verse 72 repeats it again: "It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn your decrees." As much as we might wish it were different, it often takes pain to bring gain -- as God well knows.
In the Bonds of Christian Affection, Pastor Jeff