Blessings in Disguise
Charles Spurgeon said, "The Lord gets His best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction." He allows us to go through the test of suffering and trial so that we may be fashioned into instruments of strength.
Years ago the village blacksmith produced useful implements out of pieces of iron. As he pumped the bellows, the furnace glowed red. Into the fire he thrust the metal until it became almost transparent in the white heat. Then the blacksmith pulled it out of the fire, placed it on the anvil, and with a heavy hammer pounded the metal made malleable by the flame. Again the iron was put into the fire and again the blacksmith struck it with the hammer. All the while, he alternated plunging the metal into the fire and into the water. The shock tempered it and gave it durability and toughness. That newly formed instrument developed a strength that could be produced no other way.
Promises Concerning Affliction
An evangelist told the following story in one of his campaigns. He said, "I have a friend who during the depression lost a job, a fortune, a wife, and a home, but tenaciously held to his faith—the only thing he had left. One day he stopped to watch some men building a stone church. One of them was chiseling a triangular piece of rock. 'What are you going to do with that?' asked my friend. The workman said, 'Do you see that little opening way up there near the spire? Well, I'm shaping this down here so that it will fit up there.
Tears filled the eyes of the heartbroken man as he walked away. It seemed that God had spoken through the workman to explain the ordeal through which he was passing."
Perhaps you have recently suffered a great loss. Or maybe you are experiencing physical or emotional pain. The outward man seems to be "perishing." Yet, if you know the Lord as your Savior, you need not despair. All these things are under the loving hand of your heavenly Father, who is using them to prepare you for heaven.
Pearls─A Healed Wound
We are told that pearls are the product of pain. When the shell of an oyster is chipped or pierced by a worm or boring parasite, a foreign substance, usually a grain of sand, gets in. The inside of an oyster's shell is made up of a lustrous substance called nacre. When a grain of sand gets into a shell, the nacre cells get busy. They cover the grain of sand with layer after layer of nacre in order to protect the soft body of the oyster. The result is that a beautiful pearl is formed. An oyster which has not been hurt does not grow a pearl —for a pearl is a healed wound.
Have you been hurt by an unkind word of a friend? Have you been accused of saying that which you have not said? Have you worked hard in the church and had no one express appreciation? Have your ideas been rebuffed? Then grow a pearl. Cover your hurts and your rebuffs with layer after layer of love. Just remember that an oyster which has not been hurt does not grow a pearl-for a pearl is a healed wound (The Lamplighter).
Refining Influence of -The Tribulum
In the pictures of the ancient Roman method of threshing grain, one man is always seen stirring up the sheaves while another rides over them in a crude cart equipped with rollers instead of wheels. Sharp stones and rough bits of iron were attached to these cylinders to help separate the husks from the grain. This simple cart was called a tribulum—from which we get our word "tribulation." When great affliction comes to us, we often think of ourselves as being torn to pieces under the cruel pressures of adverse circumstances. Yet as no thresher ever yoked up his tribulum for the mere purpose of tearing up his sheaves but to disclose the precious grain, so our loving Savior never puts us under the pressure of sorrow and disappointment needlessly.
The Church Has One Foundation
"God's love for His church is infinite. His care over His heritage is unceasing. He suffers no affliction to come upon the church but such as is essential for her purification, her present and eternal good. He will purify His church even as He purified the temple at the beginning and close of His ministry on earth. All that He brings upon the church in test and trial comes that His people may gain deeper piety and more strength to carry the triumphs of the cross to all parts of the world. He has a work for all to do. There must be constant enlargement and progress. The work must extend from city to city, from country to country, and from nation to nation, moving continually onward and upward, established, strengthened, and settled" (Testimonies Treasures, vol. 3, page 392).
The church has one foundation, '
Tis Jesus Christ her Lord;
She is the new creation,
By water and the word;
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her,
And for her life He died.
Elect from every nation,
Yet one o'er all the earth,
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith,
one birth; One holy name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.
Though with a scornful wonder,
Men see her sore oppressed,
Though foes would rend asunder,
The Rock where she doth rest,
Yet saints their faith are keeping;
Their cry goes up "How long?"
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song.
'Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till with the vision glorious
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great church victorious
Shall be the church at rest.
Poem by Samuel S. Wesley
Music by Samuel J. Stone
Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, 348
"In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what the Lord has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history" (Life Sketches, page 196).