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“ Affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground.” “As a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee."
Not a sparrow even falls to the ground without our heavenly Father's ordering, and He prizes us more than many sparrows.
Learn this then—that your present Sickness or Misfortune is of God. It is His doing. He it is, who has brought this present chastisement upon you.
And what are God's reasons for afflicting us ?
Is it to punish? Sometimes it is; but not, I think usually. “I have seen the wicked (says David) in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay-tree” — prosperous and happy. And, on the other hand, do we not constantly see the righteous
suffering under the heavy hand of God? Do not take, then, so sad and gloomy a view of affliction as this. There must be another and truer reason why the Lord chastens.
It is because He desires to do you some great good. The Gardener cuts and prunes his tree, to make it
grow better, and bear more precious fruit; and God often uses His sharp knife for some gracious purpose. The wise and loving Father thwarts his child, and sometimes scourges it, for its good : and God uses His chastening rod for the very same reason.
The skilful Physician, again, prescribes nauseous medicines to restore his patient's health : and God bids us take His medicines, though at the time they are very distasteful to us.
Now, the Gardener, and the Parent, and the Physician all wish to do good, either to the plant, or the child, or
the patient. And so, depend upon it, God wishes to do us good. This is the great object of His correctionsto do us good in our latter end.
Here then is an answer to the question, Why does God afflict us ? Because He loves us, and wishes to make us holy as He is holy, and happy as He is happy. For, as it has been well said,
Fiery trials make golden Christians.”
It is most important to feel this, My God loves me, and therefore He afflicts me.
If you can but realize this, it will turn your present chastisement into a blessing, and your sick-room into a little paradise! And remember, I am not going one step beyond Scripture; for is it not written there, “As many as I love I rebuke and chasten"; and again, - Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” God had, one Son without sin, but He never had any son without sorrow.
There is another thing too, which I want you to bear in mind—that God cannot aflict wrongly. He never makes mistakes. Our earthly parents sometimes do. They chasten us sometimes (St. Paul says), “ for their own pleasure"; that is, without rhyme or reason, according to their own whims and fancies; “but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.”
Before then you go a step further, ask God to convince you of this precious truth–It is my Father who corrects me, even He who loves me. I will receive this chastisement then from God, and remember that it is a loving hand that smites. I will kiss the very rod that scourges me. I will say, “Father, not my will, but thine be done. Make me what thou wouldest have me to be.