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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Take Comfort, Afflicted Christian!

Quoting George MacDonald:

No words can express how much the world owes to sorrow. Most of the Psalms were born in the wilderness. Most of the Epistles were written in a prison. The greatest thoughts of the greatest thinkers have all passed through fire. The greatest poets have “learned in suffering what they taught in song.” In bonds Bunyan lived the allegory that he afterwards wrote, and we may thank Bedford Jail for the Pilgrim’s Progress. Take comfort, afflicted Christian! When God is about to make pre-eminent use of a person, He put them in the fire.

Grace And Gifts

John Bunyan

Quoting English Preacher and author of The Pilgrim’s Progress John Bunyan (1628-1688):

“I concluded, a little grace, a little love, a little of the true fear of God, is better than all the gifts: yea, and I am fully convinced of it, that it is possible for souls that can scarce give a man an answer, but with great confusion as to method; I say, it is possible for them to have a thousand times more grace, and so to be more in the love and favor of the Lord, than some who by the virtue of the gift of knowledge, can deliver themselves like angels.” (Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners by John Bunyan)

Facing Adversity

There is some good in adversity I suppose. I often hear the statement that “What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger!” Yet, most sane people I know would rather avoid pain and adversity if possible. There are examples, however, of adversity making people stronger to serve the purposes of God: Take John Bunyan for instance. He was arrested in 1660 for preaching without a license. In prison, he began writing his great book Pilgrim’s Progress. Then there is Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The communists imprisoned him for criticizing them. While suffering in the Gulag (concentration camp), he wrote poems in his head, which he later was able to publish and eventually he wrote the Gulag Archipelago based on his experiences. Consider the story of Joseph in Genesis. First in slavery and then in prison Joseph learned to forgive, to persevere, and perhaps a good dose of humility. These lessons and the hand of God brought Joseph to Pharaoh’s attention and placed him in a position to save his family from starvation.

There are certainly many other examples that could be written about. The Lord, however, provides us with many encouragements in the Scriptures to hold on to as anchors of hope when adversity comes our way. One of my favorites is “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) A few of many helpful Bible verses in times of trial are listed below:

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 18:10

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.

Isaiah 41:10

[F]ear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 16:33

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Winning God’s Approval

John Bunyan

Quoting Protestant preacher and author of The Pilgrim’s Progress John Bunyan:

“When I thought I kept this or that commandment, or did, by word or deed, anything that I thought was good, I had great peace in my conscience, and should think with myself, God cannot choose but be now pleased with me; yea, to relate it in mine own way, I thought no man in England could please God better than I. But poor wretch as I was! I was all this while ignorant of Jesus Christ; and going about to establish my own righteousness; and had perished therein, had not God in mercy showed me more of my state by nature. But upon a day, the good providence of God called me to Bedford … I came where there were three or four poor women … talking about the things of God … I drew near to hear what they said, for I was now a brisk talker also myself, in the matters of religion; but I may say, I heard but understood not; for they were far above, out of my reach. Their talk was about a new birth, the work of God on their hearts, also how they were convinced of their miserable state by nature; they talked how God had visited their souls with His love in the Lord Jesus, and with what words and promises they had been refreshed, comforted, and supported, against the temptations of the devil: moreover, they reasoned of the suggestions and temptations of Satan in particular; and told to each other, by which they had been afflicted and how they were borne up under his assaults. They also discoursed of their own wretchedness of heart, and of their unbelief; and did contemn, slight and abhor their own righteousness, as filthy, and insufficient to do them any good.” (Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners)

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