All events are under the control of providence; consequently all the trials of our outward life are ultimately traceable to God our Father. Out of the golden gate of God's ordinance the armies of trial march in rank, clad in their iron armor and armed with weapons of war. All providences are doors to testing. Even our mercies, like roses, have their thorns. Men may be drowned in prosperous seas as easily as in rivers of affliction. Our mountains are not too high, and our valleys are not too low for temptations: Trials lurk at every turn. Everywhere, above and below, we are confronted and surrounded with danger. Still no shower falls unpermitted from the threatening cloud; every drop has its order before it arrives on the earth.
The trials that come from God are sent to prove and strengthen our graces and immediately illustrate the power of divine grace, to test the genuineness of our virtues and to add to their energy. Our Lord in His infinite wisdom and superabundant love sets such a high value upon His people's faith that He will not protect them from those trials by which faith is strengthened. You would never have possessed the precious faith that now supports you if the trial of your faith had not put you through the fire. You are a tree that never would have rooted as well if the wind had not rocked you to and fro and made you take a firm hold upon the precious truths of God's gracious covenant.
Worldly ease is a great enemy to faith; it loosens the joints of holy zeal and snaps the sinews of sacred courage. The balloon never rises until the cords are cut; affliction provides this service for believing souls. While the wheat sleeps comfortably in the husk, it is useless to us; it must be threshed out of its resting place before its value can be known. Thus it is good that the Lord tests the righteous, for it causes them to grow rich toward God.
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From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.