God is at the root of our sufferings
(MacDuff, "Encouragements to Patient
"Affliction does not come forth from the dust,
neither does trouble spring out of the ground."
Of all things, the most difficult is to truly realize
"the need be" for our own personal trials.
We inwardly think . . .
that our lot is a very hard one;
that our cross is the most painful;
that our suffering the most agonizing;
that our path the most thorny.
And all this arises from the fact that we have
not discovered the "need be." How could we?
At the best, our spiritual eyesight is weak and
dim. We cannot know the real state of our souls,
or see them as He does, whose searching scrutiny
detects the slightest symptom of disease. We
imagine all is well when we are sick, wounded,
ready to die. We imagine that all is right with
the heart, when faith is weak, love cold, hope
Only gradually, after having been long in the
school of trial, do we begin to realize that the
Physician must probe the wound within us,
and apply severe remedies, and cause pain
and anguish, in order to cure the malady which
is preying upon us. Only then can we rightly
comprehend our former weakness, and thank
God that in tender love He cared for us . . .
not hesitating to inflict pain,
not withdrawing His hand,
not sparing the rod,
that He might do us good in the end.
Reader, it is when we come to know and realize
this, that we begin to reap the benefit of affliction.
So long as we attribute it only to 'second causes',
there will be no submission, no gratitude, no praise.
It is when the discovery has been made that God is
at the root of our sufferings--that He is desolating
our comforts, robbing us of our joys with His own hand
--when every grief and pang, every sorrow and anxiety,
are felt to be His work--when we cannot banish Him
from our thoughts, nor disconnect Him from one of
our troubles, nor even wish to do either--it is then
that the soul begins to consider, and the heart to
soften, and our proud, rebellious, stubborn spirit
to give way.
Only let us see that a Father's hand has mingled
our cup of bitterness, and the Comforter will come,
even when our heart is almost broken, and inspire
the trembling utterance, "The Lord gave, and the Lord
has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!"
Affliction will be sent again and again, until we learn
to sit loose to the world, and have our chief joy in God.
"I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You
are the one who has done this!" Psalm 39:9