Tag Archive for 'affliction'

Quotes From ‘Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow’

I’ve seen some blogs where they have 20 short quotes from each book the blog writer reads. I’m not into round numbers or always having to have a formula, and only want to post quotes I really like, but I like this idea of posting multiple quotes from books that have been read through. Anyone who frequents this little corner of cyberspace knows that I like posting quotes. I try to put some of my own commentary in there, and often mix authors with quotes of the same subject, along with Scripture. But posting a few random quotes might give you more of an idea of what a book is like.

I’ve made a new Category called Book Quotes. We’ll see how it goes. I may try to do some other recent books. See below for how I extract longer quotes in paper books.

These are from Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow, by Nancie Guthrie.

When we feel disappointed by the spiritual nature of the fulfillment of God’s promises to heal us, it reveals the truth about what we think about our sin. We don’t really see our sin as that big of an issue. As we compare ourselves to those around us, we think we’re pretty good. We think of our sin problem as more like a case of the sniffles than a terminal disease.

Our disappointment also reveals that we don’t value the eternal promises of God as much as we want him to fix what we see as our most significant problems. What we really want from him is to give us everything he has promised us here and now. We think that physical life on this earth—the length of it and the quality of it—is of ultimate importance. We have a hard time grasping the signficance and the reality of the life to come.*

Pages 37-38

Honestly, I’ve come to think that looking for a specific answer to the question Why? is mostly an unsatisfying quest. What we really are in search of is not an explanation but a sense of meaning. We want to know that there is some meaning and purpose in our losses—that they are not random or worthless.

We want to see the ways God is using our loss for good. Sometimes God, in his goodness, draws back the curtain and I shows us; we can see how he is using our loss in our lives or in l the lives of those around us. And other times we have to wait. Certainly we can never expect to see the complete purposes of God in this life.

Page 88

To forgive, we need confident faith to believe that the satisfaction of being pleasing to God will be greater than the enjoyment of putting that person in his place, forcing her to see her selfishness, mining her reputation, him hurt like he has hurt you.

Page 103

The chapter on forgiveness was unexpectedly good.

Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow

For putting longer quotes in a blog post, instead of typing them out, I use an OCR app on my phone. Since I’m always having to lie down, it’s very difficult to type out quotes. I use OCR Instantly Free for Android. A photo is taken from within the app, the text is cropped, then ‘enhanced’, which just makes it very high contrast, then it does the magic of Optical Character Recognition. I then email it to myself or send it to Evernote. Since there are hard line breaks, I go to Remove Line Breaks Online Tool, correct a few errors (you may see a mistake or two–let me know), and that’s it. Probably more work than typing, but easier for me.

If it’s a Puritan paper book, I’ll look for a digital version of it to copy and paste, or if it’s a popular book, it may already be online. The Epub format, which I like to read on my phone, is the easiest to copy text from because they are all on my computer.

*Also see: What Providence Isn’t | Scripture Zealot blog

Small Thoughts-No Answers in the Book of Job

When we are afflicted or tested, and it’s not a consequence of sin, we often try to figure out what God is trying to teach us, but to no avail. Then we think we’re missing out on it. Much of the time, God is refining us (1 Peter 1:6-7), or changing us into the likeness of his Son (Romans 8:29), or pruning us (John 15:2), or doing whatever he wants, without letting us know why or exactly how. Even worse, those who don’t believe in God’s providence think that these things happen randomly.

In the book of Job, we can see that God actually told Satan who he could afflict. Then Job tried to find out reasons why. His so-called friends came up with all kinds of illegitimate reasons. Even in the end, when God actually spoke to Job, he didn’t tell Job that Satan afflicted him or why God told him to.

We should practice healthy introspection by comparing our behavior to Scripture (Hebrews 12:13-21 as an example), be sensitive to God’s conviction, and pray, but then not try to conjure up a reason for what God is doing when he himself doesn’t tell us.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?
Hebrews 12:7 NIV

I would occasionally like to try a new type of blog post. They will be short thoughts. I’m absolutely, most definitely, not trying to mimic Twitter, write posts because people have short attention spans, or abbreviate larger ideas or doctrines for the sake of making short posts. They really are small or short thoughts, not that they can’t be expanded on. They are my own thoughts and not authoritative or inarguable.

Affliction Is Essential to Spiritual Health

God ordains affliction and we don’t want to believe this.

Who can command and have it done,
if the Lord has not ordained it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that good and bad come?
Lamentations 3:37-38 NRSV

It is of so much greater concern for us to get our spirits brought down than our outward condition raised. But who believes this? All men strive to raise their outward condition; most men never mind the bringing down of their spirits, and few there are who apply themselves to it. And what is that but to be concerned to minister drink to the thirsty sick, but never to mind to seek a cure for them, by which their thirst may be carried off.

–Thomas Boston, Crook in the Lot

We think the cure is comfort. God thinks the cure is the eternal state and spiritual health of a person.

The man himself is more valuable than all external conveniences that attend him. What therefore betters the man is preferable to what betters only his condition.

[…]

It is far more needful for us to have our spirits humbled under the cross than to have the cross removed. The removal of the cross is needful only for the ease of the flesh, the humbling for the profit of our souls, to purify them, and bring them into a state of health and cure.

[…]

But what God requires is, rather to labor to bring down the heart than to get up the head. Here lies the proof of one’s suitableness for heaven; and then is one in the way heavenward, when he is more concerned to get down his heart than to get up his head, to go calmly under his burden than to get it off, to bow under the mighty hand than to put it off him.

–Thomas Boston, Crook in the Lot

Much more could be said about this, and how it affects prayer, but I will leave it here for now. This was the most significant book I’ve read in a long time.

we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Romans 5:3

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4

Hasty Review: The Crook in the Lot

The Crook in the Lot by Thomas Boston

I hesitate to put this review here. I posted in on Goodreads for myself as much as for others. It’s a hastily written review. I don’t want to spend any more time on it than this. The book was life changing for me. As suffering has increased in my life, God has been teaching me more and more about his sovereignty and providence as time goes on. Part of the reason it takes so much time is because my pride is involved.

Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked?
Ecclesiastes 7:13

This verse is the premise of the book. Accepting our lot in life is one of its messages. Hopefully that will help you understand what crook and lot means if those terms are unfamiliar.

One of, if not the best book on dealing with affliction that I’ve read. It’s just what I’ve been looking for. Boston covers it from many angles. If you don’t come away more humble and God fearing after reading this book, you might not have understood it or been able to take in what he has to say at this point in your life.

This isn’t a modern ‘comfort’ book or seven steps to overcoming affliction. Some of the older English can be difficult, but I was able to get used to it.

As with most or all Puritans, everything is Scriptural based on how the author interprets it. Lowliness, glorifying God, and God’s ordaining of everything are stressed. I suppose for those who are ready for it, this book is comforting; at the same time, the truth isn’t always easy to accept.

I would obviously recommend this to anyone dealing with affliction, but also to anyone who isn’t, in order to prepare for what may come in life, and to learn more about God’s sovereignty and how we should live as God’s children.

See other reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.

Vindicating God Instead of Ourselves

The Crook in the Lot by Thomas Boston is one the best, if not the best books I’ve read on dealing with affliction. I may write more about that at some point; but here is one of my favorite quotes from the book. It may take a few reads to understand it.

Even good men … think God deals His favours unequally, and is mighty severe on them more than others. Elihu marks this fault in Job, under his humbling circumstances. And I believe it will be found, there is readily a greater keenness to vindicate our own honor from the imputation the humbling circumstances seem to lay on it than to vindicate the honor of God in the justice and equity of the dispensation. The blindness of an ill-natured world, still ready to suspect the worst causes for humbling circumstances, as if the greatest sufferers were surely the greatest sinners, gives a handle for this bias of the corrupt nature. But God is a jealous God, and when He appears sufficiently to humble, He will cause the matter of our honor to give way to the vindication of His.

–Thomas Boston, The Crook in the Lot

I’ll Pray It My Way

“The compass of our knowledge of ways and means is very narrow, as, if one is blocked up. Often we cannot see another; but our God knows many ways of relief, where we know but one or none at all, and it is very usual for the Lord to bring the lifting up of His people in a way they had no view to, after repeating disappointments from those quarters from which they had great expectation.”

–Thomas Boston, The Crook in the Lot

At some point in the past I realized that when I (and probably many others) pray for relief of affliction, and if God is to make it happen in this life, I’m praying for the solution that I see is the way out, instead of realizing that God could make it so in an infinite number of ways. I don’t think this means that God won’t answer our prayer because of this–that would be ludicrous–but it narrows our perspective of how God can work. We shouldn’t expect him to do it our way, or that we even know what that way is.

How dead guys deal with afflictions

These two paragraphs below by the Puritan Thomas Boston are more rich than the whole new book I just read [skimmed] on worry. These are just introductory remarks. He will go on in detail about how to go about this, instead of just leaving it at that and moving onto the next thing. I can see why some people are cynical about new popular level books. It’s easy to get pulled in by the blurbs and descriptions, and the newness of something. Many contemporary (even Reformed) authors also seem to be reticent to come out and say that God is the ultimate direct or indirect cause of everything, Biblical as it is (Lamentations 3:37-38).

He’s starting out using text from Ecclesiastes which is one of my favorite books in the Bible. This is my first exposure to Boston. Maybe I will especially like him.

The crook in the lot is affliction, continued for a shorter or longer period of time, as opposed to acute pain or discomfort–something that goes crooked in your allotment in life.

‘1. The remedy itself [dealing with adversity] is a wise eyeing of the hand of God in all we find to bear hard on us: “Consider the work of God,” namely, in the crooked, rough, and disagreeable parts of your lot, the crosses you find in it. You see very well the cross itself. Yea, you turn it over and over in your mind and leisurely view it on all sides. You look to this and the other second cause of it, and so you are in a foam and a fret. But, would you be quieted and satisfied in the matter, lift up your eyes towards heaven, see the doing of God in it, the operation of His hand. Look at that, and consider it well; eye the first cause of the crook in your lot; behold how it is the work of God, His doing.

2. Such a view of the crook in our lot is very suitable to still improper risings of heart, and quiet us under them: “For who can make that straight which God has made crooked?” As to the crook in your lot, God has made it; and it must continue while He will have it so. Should you ply your utmost force to even it, or make it straight, your attempt will be vain: it will not change for all you can do. Only He who made it can mend it, or make it straight. This consideration, this view of the matter, is a proper means at once to silence and to satisfy men, and so bring them to a dutiful submission to their Maker and Governor, under the crook in their lot.’

–Thomas Boston, The Crook in the Lot: Or a Display of the Sovereignty and Wisdom of God in the Afflictions of Men, and the Christian’s Deportment Under Them

God Afflicts Those He Loves

Just a few:

It was good that I had to suffer
in order to learn your laws.
The teachings that come from your mouth
are worth more to me than thousands in gold or silver.
Psalm 119:71-72 GW

The LORD tests righteous people,
but he hates wicked people
and the ones who love violence.
Psalm 11:5

The Lord disciplines everyone he loves. He severely disciplines everyone he accepts as his child. Endure your discipline. God corrects you as a father corrects his children. All children are disciplined by their fathers. On earth we have fathers who disciplined us, and we respect them. Shouldn’t we place ourselves under the authority of God, the father of spirits, so that we will live? For a short time our fathers disciplined us as they thought best. Yet, God disciplines us for our own good so that we can become holy like him. We don’t enjoy being disciplined. It always seems to cause more pain than joy. But later on, those who learn from that discipline have peace that comes from doing what is right.
Hebrews 12:6-11

Even if he makes us suffer, he will have compassion in keeping with the richness of his mercy. He does not willingly bring suffering or grief to anyone,
Lamentations 3:32-33 GWN

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith — more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:3-7 HCSB

Thomas Watson on Affliction

This is from Thomas Watson’s book The Lord’s Prayer. I’ve been finding that books like this are just as good for dealing with suffering as books on suffering (which many posts on this blog are about). Not just the parts of them on subjects dealing with suffering directly, but for example in this book, the extensive part on Our Father is very edifying in every way. The quote below is from part of the section on Thy Will Be Done. Notice the hierarchy of numbering goes from [] to () in the bold parts. I think the most difficult part of reading the Puritans are the lists with the numbers. They can go three and four deep. It’s more difficult when it’s an eBook, like this one is for me. At least it makes it easy to copy and paste. I think this is especially good for those dealing with suffering or who might wrestle with the subject:

When do we not submit to God’s will in affliction as we ought?

(1) When we have hard thoughts of him, and our hearts begin to swell against him.

(2) When we are so troubled at our present affliction that we are unfit for duty. We can mourn as doves—but not pray or praise God. We are so discomposed that we are not fit to hearken to any good counsel. “They hearkened not unto Moses, for anguish of spirit.” Exod 6:9. Israel was so full of grief under their burdens, that they minded not what Moses said, though he came with a message from God to them; “They hearkened not unto Moses, for anguish of spirit.”

(3) We do not submit as we ought to God’s will when we labor to break loose from affliction by indirect means. Many, to rid themselves out of trouble, run themselves into sin. When God has bound them with the cords of affliction—they go to the devil to loosen their bands! Better it is to stay in affliction, than to sin ourselves out of it. O let us learn to stoop to God’s will in all afflictive providence.

But how shall we bring ourselves, in all occurrences of providence, patiently to acquiesce in God’s will, and say, “May your will be done”?

The MEANS for a quiet resignation to God’s will in affliction are:

[1] Judicious consideration. “In the day of adversity consider.” Eccl 7:14. When anything burdens us, or runs cross to our desires, did we but sit down and consider, and weigh things in the balance of judgment, it would much quiet our minds, and subject our wills to God. Consideration would be as David’s harp, to charm down the evil spirit of frowardness and discontent.

But what should we consider?

That which should make us submit to God in affliction, and say, “May your will be done,” is:

(1) Consider that the present state of life is subject to afflictions, as a seaman’s life is subject to storms. [No one escapes bearing the lot which all suffer.] “Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward;” he is heir apparent to it. Man comes into the world with a cry—and goes out with a groan! Job 5:7. The world is a place where much wormwood grows. “He has filled me with bitterness (Heb with bitternesses); he has made me drunken with wormwood.” Lam 3:15. Troubles arise like sparks out of a furnace. Afflictions are some of the thorns which the earth after the curse brings forth. We may as well think to stop the chariot of the sun when it is in its swift motion, as put a stop to trouble. The consideration of a life exposed to troubles and sufferings, should make us say with patience, “May your will be done.” Shall a mariner be angry that he meets with a storm at sea?

(2) Consider that God has a special hand in the disposal of all occurrences. Job eyed God in his affliction. “The Lord has taken away;” chap 1:21. He did not complain of the Sabeans, or the influences of the planets; he looked beyond all second causes; he saw God in the affliction, and that made him cheerfully submit; he said, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Christ looked beyond Judas and Pilate to God’s determinate counsel in delivering him up to be crucified, which made him say, “Father, not as I will—but as you will.” Acts 4:27, 28, Matthew 26:39. It is vain to quarrel with instruments. Wicked men are but a rod in God’s hand! “O Assyria, the rod of my anger.” Isaiah 10:5. Whoever brings an affliction—God sends it! The consideration of this should make us say, “May your will be done;” for what God does he sees a reason for. We read of a wheel within a wheel. Ezek 1:16. The outward wheel, which turns all, is providence; the wheel within this wheel is God’s decree; this believed, would rock the heart quiet. Shall we mutiny at that which God does? We may as well quarrel with the works of creation as with the works of providence.

(3) Consider that there is a NECESSITY for affliction. “If need be, you are in heaviness.” 1 Peter 1:6. It is needful that some things are kept in brine. Afflictions are needful upon several accounts.

[1] To keep us humble. Often there is no other way to have the heart low—but by being brought low. When Manasseh “was in affliction, he humbled himself greatly.” 2 Chron 33:12. Corrections are corrosives to eat out the proud flesh. “Remembering my misery, the wormwood and the gall, my soul is humbled in me.” Lam 3:19, 20.

[2] It is necessary that there should be affliction; for if God did not sometimes bring us into affliction, how could his power be seen in bringing us out? Had not Israel been in the Egyptian furnace, God had lost his glory in their deliverance.

[3] If there were no affliction, then many parts of Scripture could not be fulfilled. God has promised to help us to bear affliction. Psalm 37:24, 39. How could we experience his supporting us in trouble—if we did not sometimes meet with it? God has promised to give us joy in affliction. John 16:20. How could we taste this honey of joy—if we were not sometimes in affliction? Again, he has promised to wipe away tears from our eyes. Isaiah 25:8. How could he wipe away our tears in heaven—if we never shed any? So that, in several respects, there is an absolute necessity that we should meet with affliction; and shall not we quietly submit, and say, “Lord, I see there is a necessity for it?” “May your will be done!”

(4) Consider that we have brought our troubles upon ourselves; we have put a rod into God’s hand to chastise us. Christian, God lays your afflictive cross on you—but it is of your own making. If a man’s field is full of tares, it is what he has sown in it. If you reap a bitter crop of affliction, it is what you yourself have sown. The cords which pinch you are of your own twisting. If children will eat green fruit—they may blame themselves if they are sick; and if we eat the forbidden fruit, no wonder that we feel it gripe. Sin is the Trojan horse which lands a multitude of afflictions upon us. “Your own conduct and actions have brought this upon you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is! How it pierces to the heart!” Jeremiah 4:18. If we by sin run ourselves into arrears with God, no wonder if he sets affliction as a sergeant on our back, to arrest us. This should make us patiently submit to God in affliction, and say, “May your will be done.” We have no cause to complain of God; it is nothing but what our sins have merited. “Have not you procured this unto yourself?” Jer 2:17. The afflictive cross, though it be of God’s laying, is of our making. Say, then, as Micah (chap 7:9), “I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him.” “Whatever a man sows he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7.

(5) Consider that God is about to prove and TEST us. “For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs.” Psalm 66:10, 11. If there were no affliction, how could God have an opportunity to try men? Hypocrites can serve in a pleasure boat: they can serve God in prosperity; but when we can keep close to him in times of danger, when we can trust him in darkness, and love him when we have no smile, and say, “May your will be done,” that is the trial of sincerity! God is only trying us; and what hurt is there in that? What is gold the worse for being tried?

(6) Consider that in all our afflictions, God has kindness for us. As there was no night so dark, but Israel had a pillar of fire to give light—so there is no condition so cloudy, but we may see that which gives light of comfort. David could sing of mercy and judgment. Psalm 101:1. It should make us cheerfully submit to God’s will, to consider that in every afflictive path of providence, we may see his footstep of kindness.

There is kindness in affliction, when God seems most unkind.

[1] There is kindness in affliction—in that there is love in it. God’s rod and his love may stand together. “Whom the Lord loves, he chastens.” Heb 12:6. As when Abraham lifted up his hand to sacrifice, Isaac loved him. Just so, when God afflicts his people, and seems to sacrifice their outward comforts, he loves them. The farmer loves his vine when he cuts it and makes it bleed; and shall not we submit to God? Shall we quarrel with that which has kindness in it, which comes in love? The surgeon binds the patient, and lances him—but no wise man will quarrel with him, because it is in order to a cure.

[2] There is kindness in affliction—in that God deals with us as his children. “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons.” Heb 12:7. God has one Son without sin—but no son without stripes! Affliction is a badge of adoption. Says Tertullian, “Affliction is God’s seal by which he marks us for his own.” When Munster, that holy man, lay sick, his friends asked him how he did? He pointed to his sores, saying, “these are the jewels with which God decks his children!” Shall not we then say, “Lord, there is kindness in the cross, you treat us as your children. The rod of discipline is to fit us for the inheritance. May your will be done.”

[3] In kindness God in all our afflictions, has left us a promise. So that in the most cloudy providence, the promise appears as the rainbow in the cloud. Then we have God’s promise to be with us. “I will be with him in trouble.” Psalm 91:15. It cannot be ill with that man with whom God is; I will be with him, to support, sanctify, and sweeten every affliction. I had rather be in prison and have God’s presence, than be in a palace without it.

We have the promise that he will not lay more upon us than he will enable us to bear. 1 Cor 10:13. He will not try us beyond our strength; either he will make the yoke lighter—or our faith stronger. Should not this make us submit our wills to his, when afflictions have so much kindness in them? In all our trials he has left us promises, which are like manna in the wilderness.

[4] It is great kindness that all troubles that befall us shall be for our profit. “God disciplines us for our profit.” Heb 12:10.

Contrasts Between Present Affliction and Eternal Glory

2 Corinthians

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In his commentary on 2 Corinthians Garland points out “a series of contrasts between the present affliction and the eternal glory that follows” in 4:16-5:9.

outward man / inner man
wasting away / being renewed
slight / beyond measure
momentary / eternal
affliction / glory
what can be seen / what cannot be seen
tentlike house / building from God
earthly / heavenly
destroyed / eternal
stripped naked / clothed
mortality / life
preparation, the guarantee of the Holy Spirit / not yet
sight / faith
at home in the body / away from the Lord

I would like to try to highlight these things within the passage. The specific colors have no meaning. They are just alternated to show the pairs hopefully without too much confusion.

2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10 (NIV)
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

5:1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 We live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Comfort

2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

In his commentary on 2 Corinthians Garland says, “For us, the word ‘comfort’ may connote emotional relief and a sense of well-being, physical ease, satisfaction, and freedom from pain and anxiety. Many in our culture worship at the cult of comfort in a self-centered search for ease, but it lasts for only a moment and never fully satisfies. Watson* comments that the word ‘comfort’ ‘has gone soft’ in modern English. In the time of Wycliffe the word was ‘closely connected with its root, the Latin fortis, which means brave, strong, courageous.'”

Paul here is talking about encouragement, strengthening, exhortation and help.

*N. Watson, The second Epistle to the Corinthians, Epworth Commentaries (London: Epworth, 1993) 3.