Monday, February 06, 2012

John Newton on Christian Suffering


I've been reading John Newton lately and came across the following helpful statement in one of his letters:

"However, as [Christ] is tender, he is wise also: he loves us, but especially with regard to our best interests.  If there were not something in our hearts and our situation that required discipline and medicine, he so delights in our prosperity, that we should never be in heaviness.  The innumerable comforts and mercies with which he enriches even those we call darker days, are sufficient proofs that he does not willingly grieve us: but when he sees a need-be for chastisement, he will not withhold it because he loves us; on the contrary that is the very reason why he afflicts.  He will put his silver into the fire to purify it; but he sits by the furnace as a refiner, to direct the process, and to secure the end he has in view, that we may neither suffer too much nor suffer in vain."  --from The Works of John Newton Vol. II page 21

I need to be reminded, often, how the love of Christ is worked out in suffering.  I need to grasp this principle in the events of my own life and in the lives of believers around me.  I can't apprehend the comfort of this statement, though, without faith, and the faith necessary to be comforted comes only through God's grace.  I have generally found that often the most intense part of suffering is the temptation that comes with it to "curse God and die"--to doubt his goodness and suspect his motives or his concern while I suffer.

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