Adversity

Suffering is meant to quiet our minds & encourage our hearts:
God has a hand in our suffering. Whatever circumstances we experience
can no more arise without the hand of God than a saw can cut without
the hand of the carpenter.

Job in his suffering did not say, “The Lord gave and the devil took away,”
but, “The Lord gave & the Lord took away.”

Suffering never comes our way apart from the purpose & providence
of God & for that reason, suffering is always significant, never meaningless.

We can best see the ugly face of sin & the reality of spiritual childishness
in the mirror of suffering.

Suffering is our preacher & teacher.

Luther said that he could never properly understand some of the Psalms
until he endured suffering.

A sick bed often teaches more than a sermon & suffering first teaches us
about our sin & sinfulness.

Suffering also teaches us about ourselves, for in times of health & prosperity
all seems to be well & we are both humble & grateful, but in suffering we come
to see the ingratitude & rebellion of our hearts.

Suffering is the means of making our hearts more upright. In times of prosperity
our hearts are often divided, half pursuing God & half obsessed with the world.
Our hearts can be like a compass needle that swings wildly between two poles.

But in suffering God takes away the world so the heart will hold to Him in full sincerity.
Just as we heat a crooked rod to straighten it, God holds us over the fire of suffering
to make us more upright.

It is good that when sin has bent our souls away from God,
He will use suffering to straighten them.

If Christ’s head was crowned with thorns, why do we think ours should only ever
be crowned with roses?

Suffering conforms us to Christ.

There is meant to be symmetry & proportion between the model & the canvas,
between Christ & his people.

Suffering is like an artist’s pencil that draws Christ’s image upon us.
If we want to be parts of Christ’s body, we must want to be like Him & His
life was a series of sufferings, “a man of sorrows & acquainted with grief”

Isaiah 53:3

Suffering destroys sin.

There are loads of sin remaining in even the best heart & suffering serves to purge it,
just like fire purifies gold. The fire of suffering purges away all spiritual impurities—
pride, lust, covetousness & a million more.

It never harms the soul, but only ever leaves it more pure & more beautiful.

Suffering loosens our hearts from the world.

If we want to remove a tree from the ground, we first need to loosen the earth
from around its roots. Just like that, God digs away our earthly comforts to loosen
our hearts from the world.

It is God’s desire that our hearts hold to this world by only the smallest root & suffering
serves to shake away all attachments.

Suffering makes way for comfort.

God tempers outward pain with inward peace. “Your sorrow shall be turned to joy”
John 16:20 promises Jesus.

In suffering we see water turned into wine, bitter medicine being chased with
choice desserts.
We can testify that in suffering we have had the sweetest experiences of joy & the
closest sense of God’s nearness.

Suffering shows that God makes much of us.

Job asked, “What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your
heart on him?” Job 7:17

In suffering, God makes much of us in at least three ways.

First, he condescends so low as to take notice of us at all.
It shows our place in God’s world that he thinks us worthy to suffer.

Second, suffering is a sign of sonship. “It is for discipline that you have to endure.
God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?”
Hebrews 12:7

Third, suffering makes God’s people more renowned in the world.
Soldiers are never so admired as for their victories & saints never
more so for their sufferings. After all, isn’t Job the sufferer more
renowned than Alexander the conqueror?

When God brings a flood of suffering upon us, it is then that we fly to the ark, Christ.

Suffering is a means to joy.

Suffering brings joy by bringing us nearer to God.

The full moon is the furthest from the sun & many people in the full moon of prosperity are far from God. When God begins to remove our worldly comforts, it is then that we run to Him & make peace with Him.

It was only when the prodigal was needy that he returned home to his father Luke 15:13

It is only when the dove could not find any rest that she flew to the ark.
When God brings a flood of suffering upon us, it is then that we fly to the ark, Christ.

Suffering silences the wicked.

Rejectors love to claim that we serve God only out of self-interest.
God let’s us suffer so we will shut the mouths of those who
cast aspersions on us & our God.

It shuts the blasphemers’ mouths to see us cleave to our God in suffering, for as they do so we prove that we serve God first out of love.

Suffering makes way for glory.

As ploughing prepares the earth for a crop, so suffering prepares & makes us fit for glory.

The skilled artist knows that gold paint shows best against dark colors
God first lays the dark colors of suffering, then brushes on the golden color of glory.
Suffering does not earn us glory, but it does prepare us for it.

In all these ways we see that suffering is not harmful to us but beneficial. We should train ourselves to look less at the evil of suffering & more at the good, to look less at the dark side of the cloud & more at the light.

The worst that God ever does to us is to drive us toward heaven, toward Himself.

These points are drawn from Thomas Watson’s A Divine Cordial.

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