Gratitude For Our Fiery Trials

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Hi N____,

I want you to know that I certainly can commiserate with the pain and mental torment with which you are dealing at this time. Your letter makes clear that you have come to see the overall work that is being done by our heavenly Father with His creatures. You may be struggling to accept it, but you seem to know deep down that God really is “working all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph 1:11). That certainly includes the pain and suffering with which you are dealing.
But our pains and our sufferings continue until we see them as God sees them. That is the one thing lacking in this e- mail. Like every one of us in our appointed time, you feel that God has forsaken you and is punishing you beyond what is needed. “Believing on Christ” is not a matter simply of acknowledging Him as the Son Of God. It is rather taking on His way of thinking, His grateful, “Not My will but thine be done,” spirit and attitude. We all, at our appointed time, tell God that we do not deserve the pain of the trials He is working in our lives, and as long as this ungrateful attitude persists, we all “abide in His wrath.”

Joh 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

You tell me:

And still in your next paragraph, just as we all do, you wonder why God deals with you as He does, considering that there are others who are far worse than you have been, who don’t seem to be suffering as you.

You seem to realize that your job performance should be “as unto the Lord” and yet admit that it is not.

Col 3:22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:
Col 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

You ask:

It should be clear from the examples of our Lord, and His apostles that we must all “endure to the end” in order to be saved.

Mat 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

As Christ increases in you, your old man will decrease. As that transformation takes place, the wrath of God subsides upon your ungodliness, and the “peace that passes understanding” will come upon you and be with you as you endure to the end.

Joh 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
1Co 3:13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
Php 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Php 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

There it is! There is the answer to your dilemma. “In EVERYTHING by prayer and supplications WITH THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known unto God.
The fire of 1Co 3:13 is God’s wrath, and every man will endure and abide in it until what needs to be burned out is burned out.

Joh 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

All prophecy of scripture is designed to comfort us and increase Christ in us as our old man decreases.
Job felt exactly as you feel, and Job is every one of us. We all feel, at our own time, that God has forsaken us and taken away our judgment. In reality, we are in the process of being judged, and it is that process that is so painful:

Job 27:2 As God liveth, who hath taken away my judgment; and the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul;
Job 27:3 All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;
Job 27:4 My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit.
Job 27:5 God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.
Job 27:6 My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.

Read the entire 29th chapter of Job, and you will see that Job simply could not see himself as deserving the afflictions God had placed upon him. Here is an excerpt from that chapter where Job declares his unworthiness of the trials he is given:

Job 29:1 Moreover Job continued his parable, and said,
Job 29:2 Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me;
Job 29:3 When his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness;
Job 29:4 As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle;
Job 29:5 When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me;
Job 29:6 When I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil;
Job 29:7 When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street!
Job 29:8 The young men saw me, and hid themselves: and the aged arose, and stood up.
Job 29:9 The princes refrained talking, and laid [ their] hand on their mouth.
Job 29:10 The nobles held their peace, and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth.
Job 29:11 When the ear heard [ me], then it blessed me; and when the eye saw [ me], it gave witness to me:
Job 29:12 Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had] none to help him.
Job 29:13 The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.
Job 29:14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.
Job 29:15 I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame.
Job 29:16 I was a father to the poor: and the cause [ which] I knew not I searched out.

Job could see that he was at one time in God’s favor, and he cannot understand why God sees fit to stop the favor which He shows to babes in Christ, and replace that favor with trials which only a more mature child can endure. This whole chapter continues in this tenor, Job unable to accept himself as worthy of the trials which have come upon him and yet knowing that both good and evil come only from the Lord.

Job 2:10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

To this point Job had not “sinned with his lips.” But when he later proclaims himself righteous and accuses God of “taking away his judgment”, this is what God has to say to Job.

Job 40:6 Then answered the LORD unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
Job 40:7 Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
Job 40:8 Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?

Only then did Job see what we all have to come to see:

Job 40:1 Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said,
Job 40:2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.
Job 40:3 Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
Job 40:4 Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.
Job 40:5 Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.

That is what we are all guilty of doing. We fail to see and appreciate God’s judgments upon our vile flesh which He has given us. He gave it to us to bring us to see it for what it is, and instead of seeing all flesh as vile and worthy of death, we justify and glorify and celebrate the flesh.
What should be our attitude towards our fiery trials? Here is God’s ideal attitude toward the trials we all endure at His hand in these vessels of clay:

Psa 107:20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.
Psa 107:21 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

Four times we are told of the trials God sends upon us just as He tried Job, and four times the words of Psa 107:21 are repeated. In other words we must come to see our trials for the blessings they are. Until we come that point we will never know the meaning of “His works” and “the sacrifice of thanksgiving”. It was only when God brought Job to appreciate the trials he had been given that God lifted His wrath off Job’s unrighteous self- righteousnesses.

Psa 107:22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.
Psa 107:23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
Psa 107:24 These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.
Psa 107:25 For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
Psa 107:26 They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
Psa 107:27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.
Psa 107:28 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
Psa 107:29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
Psa 107:30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
Psa 107:31 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

No, I have never been in a psychiatric ward, but we are all given the trials we need. To the extent we do not have the mind of Christ, it could be said that is the extent we are all of unsound mind. We are not given the trials that others need. God knows who needs which trials, and we are explicitly instructed:

2Co 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

All scripture is intended to edify, exhort, and comfort us. That is what I hope these verses of scripture accomplish in you.

1Co 14:3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

We must not fear for the future, but take heart that in bearing the trials God puts on us, we show soundmindedness, and if we are to live godly lives in Christ Jesus, we must partake of those afflictions.

2Ti 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
2Ti 1:8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

Let us not compare ourselves among ourselves, but rather “offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving… for all the wonderful works of God to the children of men.” Let us be thankful that he has seen fit to “command and raise the stormy winds” in our lives, and “bring us to our wits’ end.” These are his “wonderful works” and what the story of Job reveals. Job is each of us, and Job lost everything he owned, including his seven sons and three daughters, all in one day. While it appeared outwardly to Job’s flesh and to our flesh, to be the worst day of his life, as I too, have learned, our devastating trials are really the best days of our lives, because they and they alone drive us to our knees before He who commands and raises the stormy winds and raises the waves and brings us to our wits’ end. It is at “our wits’ end” that we are closest to our Creator, and that is what we need more than all this life has to offer.
I cannot keep you from “filling up in your body what is behind of the afflictions of the Christ”, but I can exhort you to be comforted by the scriptures.

Rom 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

I pray that these words from the word of God will give you both comfort and hope. I pray that you are given by God to offer Him the sacrifice of thanksgiving for the fact that you have been counted worthy to suffer with Him in order to be in His service.
Your brother in Christ,

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