As a boy some of Thomas Boston’s earliest memories include visiting his father in prison. His father, John Boston, - a cooper by trade and a strict Presbyterian - was put in prison for refusing to conform to the changes in worship and government that the Stuart kings imposed on the Church of Scotland. After his release and the passage of Act of Toleration, he began traveling with his family to hear the preaching of Henry Erskine. It was at such a meeting God was pleased to save Thomas Boston at the age of eleven. Oh how we should be ever mindful and vigilant to regularly have children under the sound of sound preaching.
As a man, Thomas Boston became a powerful preacher and useful writer. His notable work - The Crook in the Lot: The Sovereignty of God in the Trials, Tribulations & Troubles of This Life, begins thus,
A just view of afflicting incidents is altogether necessary to a Christian deportment under them; and that view is to be obtained only by faith, not by sense; for it is the light of the Word alone that represents them justly, discovering in them the work of God, and consequently, designs becoming the Divine perfections. When they are perceived by the eye of faith, and duly considered, we have a just view of afflicting incidents, fitted to quell the turbulent motions of corrupt affections under dismal outward appearances.
Boston is saying 1) If one does not have a right view of “afflicting incidents” he will not behave as a Christian should. 2) That such a view is not gained by reason or sense BUT only through faith that is based in the Word of God 3) And that such a view will calm & direct our emotions
A favorite and meaningful trilogy of verses concerning suffering that the Lord has used in my life is PS 119:67,71, 75.
That believers have tribulations & troubles should not come as a news flash. Sometimes, however, we are confused because we don’t recognize something as God’s providence. It is much like bumping into someone you know but do not immediately recognize because of the clothing or place. Believers are sometimes confused by God’s strange ministers. We expect blessings in the form of rain not drought - health not sickness - affluence not poverty - peace not persecution - communion with God not silence. We often fail to realize all these things are God’s ministers too.
In Isaiah 46:1-7, God declares His uniqueness. There is but one God. He alone is the true One, the Sovereign One, the faithful One.
In Isaiah 46:10-11, God declares His greatness. He declares the end from beginning. His purpose will stand and no one or thing can thwart His sovereign will. Unlike man, God accomplishes what He declares. To accomplish His purpose(s), God uses strange ministers (vs 11).
That God often uses strange ministers to accomplish His purposes is clearly established and stated in the Bible where we read that He used a donkey, a whale a rooster, storms and droughts, the Assyrians, Chaldeans and Persians. God even used the wickedness of man to accomplish His purpose of redemption.
God’s use of strange minsters is a Declaration of God’s sovereignty. God is above all things. God controls everything. God uses anything He pleases in accomplishing His purposes. It is also a declaration of His faithfulness (see PS 119:75). Our journey to heaven is not one smooth upward course, but is filled with many foes - people & philosophies - events & enemies trying to get us off the way to heaven. But the great sovereign and faithful God uses even these things to prepare us and take us to heaven. It is a matter of great encouragement to the saint that no matter what is going on in my life, it is not accident, it is not for my spiritual destruction but growth and maturation.