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Is it not in the difficulties (that all must endure) where we are “conformed” to grow the most in our faith, which growth continues until departure? Obedience pleases God but is never causal for His blessings, which are solely derivatives of our favor in Christ! If obedience (intended out of love only and not favor, which is already secured) was the standard for God’s favor, there would be no need for the Cross of Christ; and if obedience were the cause of blessings, they too would negate the need for favor. No, obedience has no effect on blessings, for the Father’s blessings all derive from favor in Christ. Therefore our concerns for receiving blessings are purely according to God continually working in us to “be conformed to the image of His Son” in everything!
We can see every trial an opportunity to please God according to how we respond, and this takes our mind more off of self and places it more on God and others (disappointment is most often caused by thinking too much of so called earned blessings). There is never a “hardness” (2Ti 2:3) through which believers traverse that God not only foreknows, but has also foreordained to “work together for good to them that love God”; thus I can always say, I’m am saved and all is for my “good.” Please remember, whatever we are doing while He is doing His part, it should already include regularly “casting all your care on Him,” and this means “all” we “care” about— the enjoyable and the difficult (1Pe 5:7).
May God conform us to let our motive be not only for relief (which is acceptable but nevertheless for learning) but also for endurance, which is only accomplished by entrusting all your concerns into God’s care, that He may teach us to know that pleasing Him should always our primary and first intention in all we say and do, especially in the “trials!”
“We are kept by the power of God . . . In this ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold trials, that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried by fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1Pe 1:5-7).
There are bound to be difficulties, trials and temptations—it is well we should look them in the face. Nobody is passing smoothly through this life, though some may be more so than others (commensurate with the maturity in Jesus’ “image”). There are plenty of difficulties and trials, and we have to make straight paths for our feet. Still, we are “kept by the power of God”; but mark this, it is “through faith.” We have to remember that this is why the trials come in. We can count upon the power of our Father, but this is exercised in sustaining our faith in Him, as the Lord says to Peter, “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.”
Our Father does not take us out of trial; on the contrary, it is said, “ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations,” or testing (which is never to determine a pass or fail but always for strengthening—NC). There may be this heaviness through trial; no such thing as doubting the Father’s goodness, but the pressure, whether sorrow or of that which might tend to make our feet slip, may produce heaviness of spirit. But after all it is “only for a season,” and “if need be”.
Do not make yourself uneasy; the One who holds the reins of the need-be is your Father. He does not take pleasure in afflicting. If there is the need for it, we go through the trial, but it is only for a moment. It is a process of growth that is going on, and do you fancy that you do not need it or want it? The great secret is to have entire confidence in the love of your Father, in the certainty that He is the doer of it—disdaining to look at circumstances or at second causes, but seeing the hand of the Father in it, that it is the trial of our faith, and that it is only on the way.
When the day comes that the Father has things His own way, so to speak (He does His own work now of course), these very trials will be found to praise, honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. It is a process that He is carrying on now, it may be even the putting into the furnace to bring out the preciousness of faith. It is not a question of being cleansed, but He does cause us to pass through all evil that which He sees needed for discipline, for child-training. He uses the things that are in the world: the evil, the sin, the ill-will of others. All the things that are in the world, He uses simply as instruments to be found unto the praise, honor and glory at the appearing of the Lord Jesus.
Thus we see what a strengthening thing it is to trust the Father and wait for the Son. I do not think much of an uncomfortable inn if I know that I am only there for two or three days on the way. I might perhaps wish it were better, but I do not trouble myself much about it, because I am not living there. I am only passing through this inhospitable world, but I am dying here; if there is (always—NC) a bit of the old life, it has to be put to death. My life is hid with Christ in God.
The Lord give us to be of a true heart, and to remember that Christ is our Life, and He could not have a portion down here. Joy and peace and quietness of spirit go with it, and real happiness in the midst of trial: only we must exercise faith in our Father. Abraham found in the mountain a place where he could intercede with God, while Lot was saying, “I cannot escape to the mountain lest some evil take me and I die.” Unbelief always looks at the place of faith as the most awful thing possible—all darkness. The Lord give us to know what it is to live the life which we live “by the faith in the Son of God.”
- J B Stoney