Many a dear child of God is much tried because of the continued, and varied tribulations that is his portion. The Lord our God has His all-gracious purpose to fulfill in all the tribulations that He appoints unto His elect.
“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). No tribulation shall separate us from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:35). And in all our tribulations we shall be comforted by our God (2 Cor. 1:4), and in weight and duration they will be as pleaseth our heavenly Father. Ye shall have tribulation ten days (Rev. 2:10). And if God has appointed the number to be ten we shall not have eleven.
Our dear Redeemer is the One who endured and ransomed his church from all her tribulations. And O, at what cost He is our salvation! Our precious Lord Jesus Christ was the One who for our sakes was thrashed. (Tribulo, to thrash.) The strokes that fell from the hand of divine justice upon Him would have smitten us down into the lowest hell; but our blessed Redeemer bore our sins. “For the transgression of my people was He stricken.” What a deep and sacred record of the sufferings of Christ is that fifty-third chapter of Isaiah.
There is portrayed the tribulations of our precious Surety, our Lord Jesus Christ. I have many times (when I have been brought under the rod, and have felt to smart under the strokes) been given to find sweet balm in contemplations of the tribulations of our Redeemer declared in this 53rd chapter of Isaiah. Though our tribulations arise in many forms, and from many things, yet all is for our profit; it is our portion as appointed by our heavenly Father. Yes, this is the predestined way to “enter the kingdom.” None of the redeemed of the Lord can escape it or go around it. “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
Did you ever see a man with a wooden instrument called a flail, thrashing out the grain from the ear? Well, this word tribulation embraces this very thought. The chastenings of our God are for our profit. They are tokens of His love, and evidences that He dealeth with us as with sons (Heb. 12:1-11; Rev. 3:19). It is, as with Israel of old, so with all the true circumcision (Phil. 3:3; Col. 2:11), those who are Jews inwardly (Rom. 2:28; Rev. 2:9). All the journey under the divine guidance, all the teaching, is to humble and prove us, that we may know what is in our heart (Deut. 8:2). For all the Israel of God “shall know every man the plague of his own heart” (1 Kings 8:38).
“What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord” (Jer. 23:28). This you will find, dear child of God, there is considerable chaff in your life. And if in all outward circumstances your way, to the eyes of others, should appear to be strewn with flowers, yet this internal tribulation of the plague of your heart would be, as you know, your affliction of soul. Saith the Psalmist, “All the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning” (Psalm 73:14).
Sometimes I have murmured at my lot; I have fretted under this and that stroke; I have judged it to be unkind, cruel; I have winced under the strokes, and bitterly complained. But at such times I have seen only the rod, and not the hand that held the rod and directed every stroke. I have not, while in this murmuring state, remembered the love of Him who dealeth with me as with a son. Though I have cried and wept, and said it was hard and unkind, the strokes were not diminished.
In Proverbs 19:18 it reads, “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying”. Thus I feel the Lord has dealt with me; and when He has thus said to my soul, “Hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it” (Micah 6:9). I have found it had indeed a voice. It told me of my naughtiness, the pride of my heart, and that I am a poor, vile sinner still. It also spoke of the tender love and faithfulness of my Father, God. I then felt that all was needed to humble me. O how I need, it seems to me, to be chastened all the time, for I am so continually going astray.
The Lord our God is the one who appoints the rod. Then, whether it be men or devils, whatsoever thing causes grief to my soul, whatsoever the affliction, God appoints it. “But though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies” (Lam. 3:32). Not one stroke can any creature, anything, any power, inflict upon me more than God, even our own, has ordained. His Word declares, “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. He worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:11).
When the glorious doctrine of our God has been my souls’ meditation, I have felt a rest, a quietness therein, and have felt to say, “My times are in Thy hand” (Psalm 31:15). Our times are not at our own disposal. All would be sunshine if we could so arrange it. Our times are not in the hands of men; they can do no more than what our God appoints. They can only afflict us unto the measure that God metes out to us (Isaiah 54:16-17). The devil has not the disposal of our times; all his power to afflict us is subject to the will of our God (Job 1:12; 2:6).
“Sovereign Ruler of the skies!
Ever gracious, ever wise!
All my times are in Thy hand,
All events at Thy command.
He that formed me in the womb,
He shall guide me to the tomb;
All my times shall ever be
Ordered by Thy wise decree.”
“When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when He hideth His face, who then can behold Him? Whether it be done against a nation; or against a man only” (Job 34:29). O we need divine teaching from our very hearts to say, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted” (Psalm 119:71-75).
By and by we shall “have come through” all the tribulation that the Lord our God has appointed us. Well may we then, even now, by faith’s sweet anticipation, “Be of good cheer” (John 16:33). We shall be more than conquerors through Him that loved us.
FREDERICK W. KEENE,
THE LONE PILGRIM,
Volume 7, No. 79,