Archive for December 11th, 2008

Surprised by suffering?

how-long-o-lordSome Christians believe that we should be immune to suffering and are very surprised when they experience it’s painful touch. D.A. Carson gives five reasons why he believes this is the case. This diagnostic might be helpful for each of us to consider in the face of past suffering, current suffering or suffering that will certainly grip us all in this short life.

Here is his first reason:

We may get the balance of Scripture wrong. We remember the wonderful triumphs of Joseph, Gideon, and David; we meditate continuously on the miraculous healing of the man born blind, or on the resurrection of Lazarus. We are less inclined to think through the sufferings of Jeremiah, the constant ailments of Timothy, the illness of Trophimus, or the thorn in Paul’s flesh. A righteous man like Naboth perishes under trumped up charges (1 Kings 21). The “good guys” do not always win. We shall have occasion to return to such topics. For now it is enough to note that we may be infected by a pious version of the raw triumphalism that prevails in much of the surrounding culture because we have not taken care to follow the balance of Scripture.

– D.A. Carson, How Long O Lord?, p. 25

Here’s the second reason, the third reason, and the fifth reason. (He never gave a fourth.  I will try to find it myself)

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fire_wall1“As sure as God puts his children in the furnace, he will be in the furnace with them”–Charles H. Spurgeon.  The God who permits believers to fall into fiery trials is the same God who can deliver them from these troubles.

So sing today,

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

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A Steadfast Heart

Would you describe your heart as faithful, steadfast, and fixed on God? Or would you consider it more unstable? Can you say today, “My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!” (Psalm 57:7).

Although written some 100 years ago, Pastor Alexander McClaren words are still worth hearing today:

For a fixed heart I must have a fixed determination and not a mere fluctuating and soon broken intention.  I must have a steadfast affection, and not merely a fluttering love that, like some butterfly, lights now on this, and now that sweet flower, but which has a flight straight as a carrier pigeon to its cot, which shall bear me direct to God.  And I must have a continuous realization of my dependence upon God and of God’s sweet sufficiency going with me all through the dusty day. . . .

Ah, brethren!  How unlike the broken, interrupted, divergent lines that we draw!  Is our average Christianity fairly represented by such words as these of my text?  Do they not rather make us burn with shame when we think that a man who lived in the twilight of God’s revelation, and was weighed down with distresses such as wrong this psalm out of him, should have poured out this resolve, which we who live in the sunlight and are flooded with blessings find it hard to echo with sincerity and truth?

Fixed hearts are rare amongst the Christians of this day.

May you find strength for today by hiding in Christ today, our blessed Rock of Ages!

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