15. CHASTENING LOVE
"How precious also are Your thoughts unto me, O God!"
As many as I love I rebuke and chasten. Rev. 3:19.
I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction. Isaiah 48:10
Do the well-known tones of a mother's voice hush the child asleep that has been startled from its couch by unquiet dreams? These two "thoughts of God"—the voice of our heavenly Parent may well lull our tossed spirits to rest, and lead us to pillow our heads in confiding acquiescence in His holy will.
There are times, indeed, when, despite of better convictions and a truer philosophy, our own thoughts are mingled with guilty doubts—unworthy surmises—regarding the rectitude of the Divine dealings. We are led to say or to think with aged Jacob, "All these things are against me;"—there can be no kindness or faithfulness, surely, in such a sorrow as this! "Yes," is the reply of the Divine Chastener, "that trial, with all its apparent severity, is a thought of My love—a proof, and pledge of My interest in your well-being. In these fierce furnace-fires I have chosen you—in these I will keep you; from these, I will bring you forth a vessel refined and fitted for the Master's use."
"That this affliction is unspeakable love," says one who could write from the depths of experience, "I have no doubt; because He who has sent it is no new Friend, but a tried and a precious One." "The afflictions with which we are visited," says another, "are so many notes in which God says, 'I have not forgotten you.'" He sits, as refiner of His own furnace, tempering the fury of the flames. The human parent, in meting out chastisement, may act at times capriciously, guided by wayward impulse; "but He disciplines us for our profit, that we may be made partakers of His holiness."
Rather, surely, the acutest discipline, the hardest strokes of the rod, than to be left unchecked and unreclaimed in our career of worldliness, forgetfulness, and sin—God uttering that severest word, "Why should you be stricken any more? you will only revolt more and more." As if He had said, "Why should I any longer 'think' of you, or attempt to reclaim you? My warnings and remonstrances are in vain—I will return to My place—I will give you up." Oh, most fearful of chastisements—when God's loving thoughts, and patient thoughts, and forbearing thoughts are exhausted, and when our stubborn unbelief brings Him to utter the doom of abandonment.
Tried one, recognize henceforth, in your sorest afflictions, a Father's rod, hear in them a Father's voice, see in each what will invest them with a halo of subdued glory, a mysterious, it may be, but yet a 'precious thought' of God, and that thought kindness and mercy. That loss of worldly substance—it was a thought of God. That withering disappointment, the blighting of young hope—it was a thought of God. That protracted sickness, that wasting disease—it was a thought of God. The smiting of that clay idol—it was a thought of God.
This is surely enough to wake up the tuneless broken strings of your heart to melody—"Whom the Lord loves He chastens, and He scourges every son whom He receives." He is never so near to you as in a time of trial—never does He so reveal His heart as then. Electricity brings the thoughts of earth near—but trial is the wire on which ''travel to the smitten spirit, and every message is a thought of love."
I will be glad and rejoice in Your love, for You saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. Psalm 31:7