The trials and sufferings of the godly

(Thomas Watson, "Body of Divinity")

God's own people often suffer great afflictions.

"This is what the wicked are like—always carefree,
 they increase in wealth. Surely in vain have I kept
 my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in
 innocence. For I am afflicted all day long!"
    Psalm 73:12-14

How can this be consistent with God's justice?

'God's ways of judgment are sometimes secret, but
never unjust!' The Lord never afflicts His people
without a cause; He cannot be unjust towards them.

There is some good in the godly—therefore the wicked
afflict them; there is some evil in them—therefore God
afflicts them!

God's own children have their blemishes. "But aren't
you also guilty of sins against the Lord your God?"
2 Chr. 28:10. These spiritual diamonds—have they no
flaws?
Do we not read of the spots of God's children?
Are not they guilty of much pride, passion, worldliness?
Though, by their profession, they should resemble the
birds of paradise, to fly above, and feed upon the dew
of heaven; yet, as the serpent, they often lick the dust!

The sins of God's people, do more provoke God than
the sins of others. "The Lord saw this and was filled
with loathing. He was provoked to anger by His own
sons and daughters." Deut 32:19. The sins of others
pierce Christ's side; the sins of His people wound His
heart! Therefore is not God just in all the afflictions
which befall them? "You only have I chosen of all the
families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for
all your sins." Amos 3:2. I will punish you sooner,
surer, sorer—than others.

The trials and sufferings of the godly, are to
refine and purify them. God's furnace is in Zion. Is
it any injustice in God to put His gold into the furnace
to purify it? Is it any injustice in God, by afflicting His
people, to make them partakers of His holiness? What
more proclaims God's faithfulness—than to take such
a course with them as may make them more holy?

"I know, O Lord, that Your laws are righteous, and
in faithfulness You have afflicted me." Psalm 119:75
 

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We have published several more sections of Thomas
Watson's outstanding book, "Body of Divinity"