`Blessed is the man whom Thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest out of Thy law; that Thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity.' -- Ps. 94:12
`Before I was afflicted, I went astray; but now I observe Thy word. It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes.' -- Ps. 119:67,71
`He chastens us for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.' -- Heb. 12:10
`Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations; knowing that the proof of your faith worketh patience.' -- Jas. 1:2,3
Every child of God must at one time or another enter the school of trial. What the Scriptures teach us is confirmed by experience. And the Scriptures teach us further, that we are to count it a joy when God takes us into this school. It is a part of our heavenly blessedness to be educated and sanctified by the Father through chastisement.
Not that trial in itself brings a blessing. (Isa. 5:3; Hos. 7:14,15; 2 Cor. 7:10) Just as there is no profit in the ground's being made wet by rain or broken up by the plough, when no seed is cast into it, so there are children of God that enter into trial and have little blessing from it. The heart is softened for a time, but they know not how to obtain an abiding blessing from it. They know not what the Father has in view with them in the school of trial.
In a good school there are four things necessary -- a definite aim, a good text-book, a capable teacher, a willing pupil.
1. Let the aim of trial be clear to you. Holiness is the highest glory of the Father, and also of the child. He `chastens us for our profit that we may be partakers of His Holiness.' (Isa. 27:8,9; 1 Cor. 11:32; Heb. 2:10; 12:11) In trial the Christian would often have only comfort. Or he seeks to be quiet and contented under the special chastisement. This is indeed the beginning; but the Father desires something else, something higher. He would make him holy, holy, for his whole life. When Job said, `Blessed be the name of the Lord,' this was still but the beginning of his school-time: the Lord had still more to teach him. God would unite our will with His holy will, not only on the one point in which He is trying us, but in everything: God would fill us with His holy Spirit, with His holiness. This is the aim of God; this also must be your aim in the school of trial.
2. Let the word of God at this time be your reading book. See in our trials how in affliction God would teach us out of His law. The word will reveal to you why the Father chastens you, how deeply He loves you in the midst of it, and how rich are the promises of His consolation. Trial will give new glory to the promises of the Father. In chastisement have recourse to the word. (Ps. 119:49,50,92,143; Isa. 40:1; 43:2; 1 Thess. 4:8)
3. Let Jesus be your teacher. He Himself was sanctified by suffering: it was in suffering that He learned full obedience. He has a wonderfully sympathetic heart. Have much intercourse with Him. Seek not your comfort from much speaking on the part of men or with men. Give Jesus the opportunity of teaching you. Have much converse with Him in solitude. (Isa. 26:16; 61:1,2; Heb. 2:10,17,18; 5:9) The Father has given you the word, the Spirit, the Lord Jesus your sanctification, in order to sanctify you: affliction and chastisement are meant to bring you to the word, to Jesus Himself, in order that He may make you partaker of His holiness. It is in fellowship with Jesus that consolation comes as of itself (2 Cor. 1:3,4; Heb. 13:5,6)
4. Be a willing pupil. Acknowledge your ignorance. Think not that you understand the will of God. Ask and expect that the Lord would teach you the lesson that you are to learn in affliction. To the meek there is the promise of teaching and wisdom. Seek to have the ear open, the heart very quiet, and turned towards God. Know that it is the Father that has placed you in the school of trial: yield yourself with all willingness to hear you taught. He will bless you greatly in this. (Ps. 25:9;39:2,10; Isa. 50:4,5)
`Happy is the man whom Thou chastenest, and teachest out of Thy law.' `Count it all joy when ye fall into manifold temptations,' `that ye may be perfect, lacking in nothing.' Regard the time of trial as a time of blessing, as a time of close converse with the Father, of being made partaker of His holiness, and you shall also rejoicingly say: `It is good for me that I have been afflicted.'
Father, what thanks shall I express to Thee for the glorious light that Thy word casts upon the dark trials of this life. Thou wilt by this means teach me, and make me partaker of Thy holiness. Hast Thou considered the suffering and the death of Thy beloved Son not too much to bring holiness near to me, and shall I not be willing to endure Thy chastisement to be partaker of it? No: Father, thanks be unto Thee for Thy precious work: only fulfil Thy counsel in me. Amen.
1. In chastisement it is first of all necessary that we should be possessed by the thought: This is the will of God. Although the trial comes through our own folly or the perversity of men, we must acknowledge that it is the will of God that we should be in that suffering by means of that folly or perversity. We see this clearly in Joseph and the Lord Jesus. Nothing will give us rest but the willing acknowledgment: this is the will of God.
2. The second thought is: God wills not only the trial, but also the consolation, the power, and the blessing in it. He who acknowledges the will of God in the chastisement itself is on the way to see and experience the accompaniments also as the will of God.
3. The will of God is as perfect as He Himself: let us not be afraid to surrender ourselves to it: no one suffers loss by deeming the will of God unconditionally good.
4. This is holiness: to know and to adore the will of God, to unite one's self wholly with it.
5. Pray, seek not comfort in trial in connection with men. Do not mingle too much with them: see to it rather that you deal with God and His word. The object of trial is just to draw you away from what is earthly, in order that you may turn to God and give Him time to unite your will with His perfect will.