“For whom the Lord loves — He chastens; and scourges every son whom He receives.” Hebrews 12:6
Chastisement is the family badge — the family pledge — the family privilege, “To you it is granted to suffer.” “Troubles,” says a godly man, “are in God’s catalog of mercies.” “Afflictions,” says another, “are God’s hired laborers to break the clods and plow the land.” Reader, is the hand of your God heavy upon you? Has He been breaking your cisterns, withering your gourds, poisoning your sweetest fountains of earthly bliss? Are the world’s bright spots outnumbered by the dreary ones? Has one tear been following another in quick succession? You may have to tell, perhaps, of a varied experience of trials. Every tender point touched — sickness, bereavement, poverty — perhaps all of these.
Be still. If you are a child of God, there is no exemption from the “household discipline.” The rod is the Father’s; the voice that speaks may be rough — but the hand that smites is gentle. The furnace may be seven times heated — but the Refiner is seated nearby. His object is not to consume — but to purify. Do not misinterpret His dealings; there is mercy on the wings of “the rough wind.” Our choicest fountains are fed from dark lowering clouds. All, be assured, will yet bear the stamp of divine love. Sense cannot yet discern “the rainbow in the clouds.” Aged Jacob exclaimed at first, “All these things are against me!” but at last he had a calmer and a more just verdict, and “his spirit revived!”
“At evening time it was light.” The saint on earth can say, regarding his trials, in faith and in trust, “I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right.” The saint in glory can go a step farther, “I see, O Lord, that they are so!” His losses will then be shown to be his riches. Believer! on a calm retrospect of your heaviest afflictions — say, were they unneeded? This “severe mercy of God’s discipline” — was it too severe? Less would not have done. Like Jonah, you never would have awoke — but for the storm. He may have led you to a Zarephath (a place of furnaces) — but it is to show you “one like unto the Son of God!” When was God ever so near to you, or you to your God — as in the furnace-fires?
When was the presence and love and sympathy of Jesus so precious? It was when “the Beloved” comes down from the Mountain of Myrrh and the Hill of Frankincense — to His Garden on earth. He can get no fragrance from some plants but by bruising them. The spices in the Temple of old were crushed. The gold of its candlestick was beaten gold! It was when the Marah-fountain of your heart was bitter with sin — that He cast in some cross, some trial, and “the waters were made sweet!”
My soul, be still! You have, in affliction, one means of glorifying God, which even angels have not, in their sorrowless world — patience under the rod — submission to your Heavenly Father’s will! Pray not to have your affliction removed — but for grace to bear up under it, so that you may glorify God even “in the fires!” Remember that though “weeping endures for a night — joy comes in the morning!” Close your tearful eyes, saying, “I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me live in safety!” Psalm 4:8