A Brief Meditation for the Month

July 2020

The godly Samuel Rutherford experienced many and varied trials throughout his ministry in Scotland in the seventeenth century. One of the results from those experiences, was his ministry of comfort and encouragement to other afflicted Christians, through the medium of letter-writing. To one of these, he wrote: “The thorn is one of the most cursed and angry and crabbed weeds that the earth yields, and yet out of it springs the rose, one of the sweetest smelled flowers, and most delightful to the eye, that the earth has. Your Lord shall make joy and gladness out of your afflictions, for all His roses have a fragrant smell.”

Perhaps child of God, as you read this meditation, you are wondering why you are presently going through a painful experience in your own life. You are perhaps mystified as to why God should order your providences as they are. You may even have asked the question: what have I done to deserve this? While you would never question the wisdom of God in his dealings with you, nevertheless, you are thinking, how can any good come from this? If this is the case, let me remind you; you are not the first or the only one to think in such a manner. We are reminded of one of God’s exemplary saints—Job. God commended him for his personal godliness, and yet he was not immune from suffering and the most extreme trials in his life. He even got to the point where he was crying out in desperation for God, “Oh that I knew where I might find him!” In his distress, however, he could still acknowledge, “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:3&10). However low in his spirit Job sank, he nevertheless came to appreciate the knowledge, wisdom, and goodness of God in his overruling dealings with him. When he emerged from his fiery trial, he had not one complaint to utter against God. Instead, Job, who had progressed in his personal knowledge of God testified: “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee” (Job 42:5). The eye of a developed faith was now fixed firmly upon God who works all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). The fragrance of increased grace was evidently diffused. If therefore, our experiences in life strengthen our faith in God and focus our eyes more steadfastly upon him, then they are productive of spiritual good. If they result in drawing us closer to God and our knowledge of Him improves, then why should we ever complain, or doubt his wisdom.

While non-Christians have their troubles in life to contend with, these are not in essence, the same as those of God’s children. The trials of Christians are the trials of their faith. We are reminded of this by the apostle Peter, who wrote to his fellow-believers, scattered from one another under oppression and experiencing “manifold temptations” or trials, as a result of which they experienced “heaviness” of spirit. Peter informed them that their trials were intended to test their faith. He told them that such trials were therefore “more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire,” that it “might be found unto praise and honour at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1Peter 1:6–7). Following severe and prolonged trials, godly Joseph was able to review God’s workings with him in providence and state without reservation, “God meant it unto good,” (Genesis 50:20). Dear believer, when all your earthly trials have come to an end, and you are safely home in glory with your Saviour, you will join with Joseph—“God meant it all for good.”

G. G. Hutton.