*To Accomplish God’s Purpose
“I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”
Isaiah 48:10 NASB
As having an absolute power over the heart of man, God moves all the springs of the heart at His pleasure. In some instances, He causes those whom it pleases Him to go on from strength to strength, even till they “perfect holiness,” with scarcely any heaviness at all. But these cases are rare. God generally sees good to try acceptable men and women in the furnace of affliction.
Therefore, manifold temptations and heaviness, more or less, are usually the portion of His dearest children. Indeed, almost all the children of God experience this, in a higher or lower degree.
We ought, doubtless, to watch and pray and use our utmost endeavors to avoid falling into darkness. But we need not care so much how to avoid heaviness as how to improve ourselves when it comes. Let us be careful to wait upon the Lord so that heaviness may accomplish the end for which He has permitted it—that our faith may be increased, our hope confirmed, unholy tempers purged away, and our love perfected.
Let us earnestly work together with Him, by the grace which He is continually giving us, in “purifying ourselves from all pollution, both of flesh and of spirit.” And by daily growing in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, till we are received into His everlasting kingdom!
*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.
In this fifty-third lesson on prayer, Wesley brings out the fact of affliction in our process of sanctification. He exhorts us to do all we can to avoid darkness but be open to the improvements that wrestling through a dark time can bring to our soul. The darkness is productive if we wait on the Lord for the purpose for our affliction and in learning to call upon His grace while we embrace that purpose to its complete intention in our lives.
In Psalm 10, the majority of verses see the psalmist is in distress because he observes the wicked and haughty prosper without a sense of God’s notice of it. Psalm 10 reads:
1Why do You stand afar off, O LORD? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble? 2 In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted; Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised. 3 For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire, And the greedy man curses and spurns the LORD. 4 The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him. All his thoughts are, ” There is no God.” 5His ways prosper at all times; Your judgments are on high, out of his sight; As for all his adversaries, he snorts at them. 6He says to himself, ” I will not be moved; Throughout all generations I will not be in adversity.” 7His mouth is full of curses and deceit and oppression; Under his tongue is mischief and wickedness. 8He sits in the lurking places of the villages; In the hiding places he kills the innocent; His eyes stealthily watch for the unfortunate. 9He lurks in a hiding place as a lion in his lair; He lurks to catch the afflicted; He catches the afflicted when he draws him into his net. 10He crouches, he bows down, And the unfortunate fall by his mighty ones. 11He says to himself, “God has forgotten; He has hidden His face; He will never see it.” 12Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up Your hand. Do not forget the afflicted. 13Why has the wicked spurned God? He has said to himself, “You will not require it.” 14You have seen it, for You have beheld mischief and vexation to take it into Your hand. The unfortunate commits himself to You; You have been the helper of the orphan. 15Break the arm of the wicked and the evildoer, Seek out his wickedness until You find none. 16The LORD is King forever and ever; Nations have perished from His land. 17O LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear 18To vindicate the orphan and the oppressed, So that man who is of the earth will no longer cause terror (NASB).
But notice in the last four verses, the psalmist gains trust again that God will hear and act on the prayers of the humble. Our dark times seem to be like that as well. We endure the darkness, not sure that God notices our distress when, suddenly, God arises in our midst and the darkness flees.
Wesley ends with, “Let us earnestly work together with Him, by the grace which He is continually giving us, in ‘purifying ourselves from all pollution, both of flesh and of spirit.’ And by daily growing in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, till we are received into His everlasting kingdom!”