The chisel of affliction!
[Editor's note: Naylor is peculiarly qualified to write on affliction by his training in the school of suffering. As a young evangelist, Naylor was severely injured in an accident. For forty-one years as an invalid, he lay day and night on a bed of pain as a constant sufferer.]
"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it!" Hebrews 12:10-11
One thing very difficult for many Christians to learn, is that the chastening rod of God is applied in love, not in anger. We are told that God "scourges every son whom He receives," and that that scourging is the proof of our sonship. So often people are inclined to take God's chastisement as an evidence that they are no longer His sons. They look upon it as a mark of God's disapproval — or even of His anger. But Scripture tells us that His chastening is for our profit. He does it not for His own pleasure — but that we may be made holier by it. It is a mark of His love. He says, "As many as I love — I rebuke and chasten!" Revelation 3:19
Note carefully God's attitude in His chastening in Hebrews 12. We are all ready to admit the truth of the eleventh verse, "No chastening for the present seems to be joyous — but grievous." None of us like to be chastened — but yet it is necessary; out of chastening come the fruits of righteousness. When the Lord chastens us, therefore, let us bear it with meekness. Let us profit by it. Let us neither be grieved nor discouraged.
Gold is purified in the furnace. It is not destroyed — it is made the better by the flames.
In the same way, every believer must pass through the furnace. The purpose of the furnace is . . .
that we may be purged from our dross,
that our graces may be refined,
that we may be rid of worldliness,
that we may be made more holy.
If you and I have to pass through the furnace of affliction or sorrow, of losses or failures — then let us submit ourselves to the hand of God. Let us not question either His mercy or His goodness.
We must often endure the chisel of affliction, as God carves us into His image. We desire to be in His image. We desire to be godlike in character. Remember that God only afflicts for our good. Like the surgeon, God does not hurt willingly — but only of necessity.
In our times of trouble, He would have us run into His arms and tell Him all our troubles, our questionings, our heartaches!