The two birds
(J. R. Miller, "Finding God's Comfort" 1896)
"Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty." Job 5:17
He is not happy at the time, at least, in the world's way. No affliction for the present seems to be joyous—but grievous. No one enjoys having troubles, sufferings, trials, sorrows. Therefore this statement made by Eliphaz appears very strange to some people. They cannot understand it. It is contrary to all their thoughts of happiness.
Of course the word 'happy' is not used here in the world's sense. The world's happiness is the pleasure that comes from the things that happen. It depends on personal comfort, on prosperous circumstances, on kindly and congenial conditions. When these are taken away—the world's happiness is destroyed.
But the word happy, here means blessed—and the statement is that blessing comes to him who receives God's correction. To correct, is to set right—that which has been wrong. Surely if a man is going in the wrong way, and God turns his feet back and sets him in the right way—a blessing has come to the man!
Afflictions are 'God's corrections'. They come always with a purpose of love in them. God never afflicts one of His children, without meaning His child's good in some way. So blessing is always intended by God. It is usually afterward that people begin to see and to understand the good that God sent them in their trial. "You do not understand what I am now doing" said Jesus, "but you shall understand hereafter." "No chastening seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." So when we have troubles and afflictions, we may know that God wants to do us good in some way through them.
Since this is so, Job was exhorted by Eliphaz, "Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty." God chastens us to bless us—to do us good. He chastens us because He loves us.
He is not a true parent, who sees his children doing wrong, and yet fails to correct them for fear he may hurt their feelings. He ought to think of their higher good, and chasten them now—to profit them afterward.
This is the way our heavenly Father works. He never loves us better—than when He is correcting us. Therefore we ought not to despise this chastening. We ought not to murmur or complain when God does not give us our own way—but checks us, lays His afflictive hand upon us, and sends trouble upon us! We ought to have such faith in God—that we shall submit quietly, confidently, and sweetly to his will—even when it brings a heavy cross into our life.
A great many people need to pause at this line—and learn it. They do not treat God's chastening with reverence. Sometimes they are crushed by it, and refuse to look up into God's face with submission and love. Sometimes they grow bitter against God and say hard things of Him! We ought to reverence God's chastening; we ought to listen to the voice that speaks to us in our grief or pain.
The way in which God brings blessing through chastening, is emphasized: "For He wounds—but He also binds up; He strikes—but His hands also heal." Job 5:18. God never smites with both hands at once! When one hand is laid upon us in affliction—the other hand is reached out to help, to uphold, to heal.
Sometimes there is a trouble in a man's body which requires the surgeon's knife. There must be amputation, or cutting away, or cutting into. In such a case the skillful surgeon does not hesitate. He thinks far more of his patient's health for the future—than of his comfort at present. So he uses his knife—that he may cure disease, or save life. He wounds—to heal. He makes sore—that he may bind up. It is just so in all afflictions which God sends. He chastens—that He may deliver from the power of temptation. He hurts the body—that he may save the soul. He takes away earthly property—that He may give true, heavenly riches.
One writer tells of two birds and how they acted when caught and put into a cage. One, a 'starling', flew violently against the wire walls of its prison, in unavailing efforts to escape—only battering and bruising its own wings. The other bird, a 'canary', perched itself on the bar and began to pour forth bursts of sweet song, from its little throat. We know which bird was the wiser and happier.
Some people are like the starling—when they are in any trouble, they chafe and fret and complain and give way to wretchedness! The result is, they only hurt themselves, make themselves more miserable, and do not in any sense lessen their trouble. It is wiser always, as well as more pleasing to God, for us to bear our trials patiently, singing songs of faith and love—rather than crying out in rebellion and discontent.
Job wanted to get near to God in his great trouble; he cried, "Oh that I knew where I might find Him!" He felt sure that that would be the best and safest place for him to be. We ought not to lose this lesson. When trouble is upon us—the true thing for us to do, is to flee to God! Some people, in their affliction and sorrow—flee away from God. Thus they lose their joy and peace, missing the comfort which they would get if only they kept near to Him. The right way to respond, is to try to find the way to God's very presence. He is the only safe refuge, when the storms of trouble break upon us. The first thing always, in any time of trouble—is to find God and hide away in His bosom, as a child runs to the mother in alarm, or as the little bird flies to its nest. To find God—is to be safe!
God is our truest and best friend! He is our Father—we need never fear to go to Him. He gives heed unto our cries. He loves us. All His omnipotence is on our side. No mother's heart was ever so full of love for her child—as is the heart of God for us, His children!