And then the Lord puts us into the furnace!


(James Smith, "Light for Dark Days" 1855)

"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows!" John 16:33

Every Christian should expect a daily cross
  something to try his graces,
  something to render the promises necessary,
  something to make the throne of grace desirable.

We are promised trouble in God's Word,
all the saints have found trouble in this life,
trouble will be our portion to the end of our days.

Here on earth, we have no abiding city. Here we are but travelers and pilgrims, and must, therefore, expect that every day will furnish something new to make us hasten home.

This was David's experience. He would never have prayed as he did, written as he did, or been useful as he has been — but for his trials! He found . . .
  the Lord to be faithful,
  grace to be sufficient, and
  deliverance in the most suitable season.
Hence he says, "In the day of my trouble, I will call upon You; for You will answer me!" Psalm 86:17


Here is a gloomy anticipation: A "day of trouble." The believer and trouble are seldom far apart, or long apart. We are born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards. Whichever way we look — we see a source of trouble!

If we look into the heart — its depravity, deceitfulness, and wickedness is a fruitful source of trouble. If we look to the different faculties of the soul — all combine to trouble us!

Our memories — how ready to receive, retain, and produce evil, even profanity — and how backward to receive, keep, or produce what is spiritual and good. Scripture is soon forgotten — while anything which we would gladly forget, seems to be imprinted on the mind, and is produced in order to distress us.

The will — how perverse and stubborn, how often does it run out after that which is carnal, forbidden by God, and injurious to us!

The affections — how easily are they impressed with earthly things, and set upon what is vain and worldly.

The conscience — how weak, how hard, how often polluted.

If we turn from ourselves, to our families — children dead in sin; and carnal, earthly-minded relations — such are causes of trouble.

If we look at the world, whether it smiles or frowns — it is an enemy to our God, and us, and a prolific source of trouble.

If we look at the church — what a source of trouble is this!
Instead of love — there is jealousy.
Instead of peace — there is conflict.
Instead of union — there is division.
Instead of brotherly kindness — there is envy.
Instead of charity — there is an unforgiving spirit.

Here is a good purpose: "I will call upon You." The Lord kindly invites us to call upon Him in trouble — and promises that He will deliver us. Every trouble, rightly understood, is an invitation from the Lord to call upon Him! We are apt to get cold and indifferent — and then the Lord puts us into the furnace — which warms and quickens our hearts. Our best prayers have generally been offered up in times of trouble. In trouble, we feel that we must pray — or sink! Oh, what a mercy to have a God to go to, in every trouble! A God who invites, promises, and will bless us!

The day of our trouble — should be a day of special prayer.
Trouble burdens the heart — prayer eases it.
Trouble disturbs the heart — prayer quiets it.
Trouble perplexes the heart — prayer guides it.

Here is sweet encouragement: "You will answer me." It is sweetly encouraging to know that God will . . .
  listen to us,
  sympathize with us,
  and answer us,
in our many trials and sorrows.

We may argue the certainty of the Lord's answering us, from His great mercy towards His children. Divine mercy has . . .
  a quick ear,
  a piercing eye,
  a tender heart,
  a full hand, and
  a swift foot!
When mercy hears a poor sinner crying — she always attends, sympathizes with him, and answers. While God remains plenteous in mercy and delights in mercy — we need not fear a refusal to our prayers!

Even if the furnace should be heated seven times hotter — still we have His promise, "In the day of my trouble, I will call upon You; for You will answer me!"

What sweet encouragement is here!