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CSF: The Fruit of Affliction – One

From John Piper’s book The Hidden Smile of God:

The afflictions of John Bunyan gave us The Pilgrim’s Progress.
The afflictions of William Cowper gave us “ThereIs a Fountain
Filled with Blood” and “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.” And
the afflictions of David Brainerd gave us a published Diarythat
has mobilized more missionaries than any other similar work. The
furnace of suffering brought forth the gold of guidance and inspi-
ration for living the Christian life, worshiping the Christian God,
and spreading the Christian Gospel.

Thereis a certain irony to the fruit of these afflictions.
Bunyan’s confinement taught him the pilgrim path of Christian
freedom. Cowper’smental illness yielded sweet music of the mind
for troubled souls. Brainerd’s smoldering misery of isolation and
disease exploded in global missions beyond all imagination. Irony
and disproportion are all God’s way. He keeps us off balance
with his unpredictable connections. We think we know how to
do something big, and God makes it small. We think that all we
have is weak and small, and God makes it big. Barren Sarah gives
birth to the child of promise. Gideon’s 300 men defeat 100,000
Midianites. A slingshot in the hand of a shepherdboy brings the
giant down. A virgin bears the Son of God. A boy’sfive loaves feed
thousands. A breach of justice, groveling political expediency,and
criminal torture on a gruesome cross become the foundation of
the salvation of the world.

This is God’s way—to take all boasting off of man and put it
on God. “Not many of you were wise according to worldly stan-
dards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but
God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God
chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose
what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not,
to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might
boast in the presence of God….‘Let him who boasts, boast of the
Lord’” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29, 31, RSV).

Not surprisingly (1 Peter 4:12), therefore, suffering fits into
God’s design in ways that sometimes baffle us and test us to the
limit. This very baffling and testing is part of the design:
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various
trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be per-
fect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

(Pages 19 and 20)

How difficult it is to embrace this concept, being all high speed internet, multiple cars in your home, an ACTUAL home, central air, gas heat, air conditioning, enough clothing to last weeks before repeating,  food on your table and a job.

On the flip side, have you ever considered what a scary thought it is to have a God who does NOT control suffering, but simply ‘allows’ it to happen to folks, even though He knows it’s coming to you ?  Thankfully, the Bible doesn’t teach this kind of ‘god’ exists, though he seems to get a lot of press in some Christian pulpits.

Next time through: God designs our suffering ?

God Bless.

K. Joel Gilliard
Theologically Correct dot Com –
Life | Doctrine | Music –

Published inEdification and Growth

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