Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, Neither doth trouble spring out of the ground; ~ Job 5:6
Why has this trial come? How ought I to regard affliction? These questions are natural in seasons of suffering. Pain and sorrow make us ask in earnest the why and the wherefore of what befalls us. And so the soul finds a time of trial to be a time of education.
Thoughts and feelings which have satisfied a man, are now tried — put to the proof — tested. If he prays for the Spirit's aid, he is taught and trained — learning by experience those truths which it most concerns him to know; and as a learner, he sets himself in earnest to feel the reality of the lessons which are appointed for him.
The first lesson in the school of tribulation, is that affliction is the visitation of God.~the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.~ Job 1:21
Nothing in any man's life comes to him by "chance." All things, both small and great, are under the control of God. He foresees, and limits, and disposes. What is sometimes called "good fortune," comes not by accident; neither does trouble spring out of the ground.
Am I healthy and prosperous? It is the will of God. Am I suffering in body or in mind? It is the Lord — let Him do what seems good unto Him. And this is the only answer that can be given to the weak and sorely tempted ones, whom one trial after another afflicts with increasing sorrows. "So it pleases God!" Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right!
To the believer, Providence is not merely general and universal, but particular and personal. "Shall there be evil in a city — and the Lord has not done it?" Pestilence and famine are sent for the benefit of cities or nations — but the believer looks to his own particular afflictions also as the dispensations of Divine Providence. To myself, affliction comes as the special visitation of God; and, looking above second causes, the word of trust from my soul should go forth, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening."
Affliction must not therefore be received as a burden, laid on by a blind and cruel fate — it is given by the wise and loving Father. Nor must I regard it as a "misfortune" — as an unmixed evil, which comes by chance, and is to be received with unconcern. Affliction comes not forth of the dust — it is from God. It is sent in mercy and wisdom — yes, and in power. "For He bruises, but He binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole." Job 5:18. And rich in lessons of comfort, of strength and of peace, is His visitation.
Such was the experience of Job. So shall I be taught by suffering, if I wait patiently to see the end of the Lord. For all things work together for good to His obedient children. Yes, ALL things.
O Lord my God, bless this trial which You have sent. Teach me to feel that Your hand is laid upon me. Help me to know that You are speaking unto my soul. May I look on affliction as Your Fatherly visitation — a token of Your love, and wisdom, and power.~ William Purton