Wednesday, October 2, 2013

what I'm reading: God's wisdom in our suffering

Do you have a copy of  Knowing God? Is it gathering dust? Is the picture of a sunset on the cover a little faded?

Why not get it off the shelf and read chapter 9, on the wisdom of God? Or read it online here.

It's a little gem I haven't noticed before.

Last week I learned how, even if I never know the cause of suffering, I can always know something of God's purpose.

This week I opened Knowing God and discovered part of God's purpose in suffering.

In chapter 9 Packer talks about Abraham and Jacob and Joseph. He shows how every trial was individually chosen by God to make them into the people he wanted them to be. I read this through twice, I found it so encouraging!

If it's true for them, it's true for me. Packer says,
These things are written for our learning, for the same wisdom orders the Christian's life today.

We should not be taken aback when unexpected and upsetting and discouraging things happen to us now.

What do they mean? Simply that God in his wisdom means to make something of us which we have not attained yet, and he is dealing with us accordingly.

Perhaps he means to strengthen us in patience, good humor, compassion, humility, or meekness, by giving us some extra practice in exercising these graces under especially difficult conditions.

Perhaps he has new lessons in self-denial and self-distrust to teach us.

Perhaps he wishes to break us of complacency, or unreality, or undetected forms of pride and conceit.

Perhaps his purpose is simply to draw us closer to himself in conscious communion with him; for it is often the case, as all the saints know, that fellowship with the Father and the Son is most vivid and sweet, and Christian joy is greatest, when the cross is heaviest.

Or perhaps God is preparing us for forms of service of which at present we have no inkling.

"He knows the way he taketh", even if for the moment we do not.

We may be frankly bewildered at things that happen to us, but God knows exactly what he is doing, and what he is after, in his handling of our affairs.

Always, and in everything, he is wise: we shall see that hereafter (Job in heaven knows the full reason why he was afflicted, though he never knew it in this life).

Meanwhile, we ought not to hesitate to trust his wisdom, even when he leaves us in the dark.

Whatever further purpose a Christian's troubles may or may not have in equipping him for future service, they will always have at least that purpose which Paul's thorn in the flesh had (2 Cor 5:7-9).

They will have been sent us to make and keep us humble, and to give us a new opportunity of showing forth the power of Christ in our mortal lives.

And do we ever need to know any more about them than that? 

Once Paul saw that his trouble was sent him to enable him to glorify Christ, he accepted it as wisely appointed and even rejoiced in it.

God give us grace, in all our own troubles, to go and do likewise.

No comments: