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When Suffering Comes

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word.
What more can He say that to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus hath fled.
“When fiery trials thy pathway 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.
The soul that to Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to it’s foes.
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

From “A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors”, by John Rippon, 1787;
attributed variously to John Keene, Kirkham, and John Keith.

When suffering comes, which we don’t orchestrate but God providentially allows, we need to recognize that He has a higher purpose. Either He is not truly good, or else I have to re-define what “goodness” means. Obviously, it is the latter.

Oswald Chambers said that the root of all sin is the suspicion that God really isn’t good. So in the middle of shattered dreams, how can I call God good ? The answer is that we need to understand what His purpose is. And His purpose is NOT to give you a comfortable life… it is to satisfy your soul with Him.

Affliction does not just happen. God is Sovereign over every affliction that comes to us. He rules over them, is the author of them, and uses them to attain His own good purposes in us. That is the truth of the Scriptures. It is un-Biblical to say that God only wants us to know that He will be there, as if somehow His hands were tied and He could not control whatever has happened.

God has loved us with an eternal and everlasting love. Because He is a righteous and faithful God, who sees His own eternal purpose for me, He is also the God who sends trial and sorrow, heartache and pain, sickness and cancer – crushing things- into my life, for the purpose of perfecting me. Through the afflictions, God is preparing us for the highest good: that one day, through Christ Jesus, we might stand before Him and take the place that He purposed for us in eternity.

(from “The Purpose Driven Life” email devotional)


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