Sufferings! Trials! Heartaches! Afflictions! Testings! Sound familiar? Ring a bell? The world, our nation, our communities, our families and friends face them on a daily basis. Maybe right now you are going through a fiery trial, if not, no doubt soon may. For the believer, it could be enough to make one depressed if not for the fact, that sufferings can draw us closer to God and the examination of Scripture reminds us that sufferings are what help mold us into the image of His lovely Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Puritan Joseph Church stated, “Sufferings are but as little chips of the cross.” Our sufferings can never be compared to the One who suffered ALL for us. Thankfully, sufferings are just temporal (2 Corinthians 5:7); that during such times we should pray (James 5:13); that part of genuine discipleship is suffering (Matthew 16:24; Philippians 1:29); that in the fire we should glorify Him (Isaiah 24:15); and most encouraging of all, that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).
John Chrysostom (347-407) has been known to us as one of the early church fathers. Born at Antioch in Syria, he became known as the “Golden Mouth” for his eloquent sermons, many of which led the people of Constantinople, where he had been appointed bishop against his will, through many times of crises. Later, for preaching truth, he was condemned to banishment for life. In his “Homily on the Paralytic Let Down Through the Roof,” he writes: Refiners throw pieces of gold into the furnace to be tested and purified by the fire. In the same way, God allows human souls to be tested by troubles until they become pure, transparent, and have profited greatly from process. Therefore, this is the greatest advantage we have. So then, we shouldn’t be disturbed or discouraged when trials happen to us. For if refiners know how long to leave a piece of gold in the furnace, and when to draw it out, if they don’t allow it to remain in the fire until it is burnt up and destroyed, how much better does God understand this process! He sees that we have become purer, He frees us from our trials so that we won’t be cursed and defeated by them. Therefore, we shouldn’t retreat or lose heart when unexpected things happen to us. Instead, we should submit to the One Who knows best and Who will test our hearts by fire as long as He likes. He does this for a reason and for the good of those who are tried.”
It has well been said that saints should fear every sin, but never sufferings! Alan Redpath encouragingly said: “There is nothing, no circumstance, no trouble, no testing that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has come past God and past Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose.”
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I AM the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior….” –Isaiah 43:2-3a
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.