Your present affliction
(James Smith, "The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble" 1842)
"God is love!" 1 John 4:8
Believer, the author of your present affliction, is Jehovah (Amos 3:6); it comes at the command of the Lord Almighty, who is excellent in counsel and wonderful in working. But though He afflicts you, His heart is not, and cannot be turned against you — for He has revealed Himself in His Word, as LOVE. He does not merely tell you that He loves you, but that He is LOVE ITSELF — infinite, eternal, unchangeable love! Fury has no place in Him; His anger is turned away from you, by the sacrifice of Jesus.
Your present affliction flows from His love; though occasioned by your sin — or called for by the circumstances in which you are placed. For He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve His redeemed children without cause. But while He puts you to pain, while He lays His rod upon you — He loves you with an inconceivable love! There is nothing but love in His heart toward you! Every affliction is absolutely necessary, and could not be dispensed with. He will never fail you nor forsake you — and therefore He lays His rod upon you. The discipline may be sharp — but the design is truly gracious. He seeks the good of your immortal soul; and designs only your welfare — even your sanctification. He intends to . . .
remind you of your follies,
bring you to reflection, and
lead you back to Himself from whom you have wandered.
Or else He intends to prevent your falling into some real evils, to which you were fast hastening. He intends, in a word . . .
to conform you to Jesus;
to answer your prayers; and
to show you, your absolute need of His presence, power, and love.
It was Divine love which chose the trial. It was Divine love which sent it. And the God of love is waiting to hear your confessions, your prayers, and your complaints.
Believe that He is love; believe that your sickness flows from love; and entreat Him to sanctify it — and then remove it. But seek its sanctification before its removal.
Sanctified afflictions are among our choicest blessings! They . . .
wean our hearts from earth,
direct our affections above, and
give energy and fervor to our prayers.
Many have had to say, "It is good for me, that I have been afflicted! Before I was afflicted I went astray — but now I keep Your precepts."
The Lord watches over you in love; while you are in this furnace — He is about your bed. Do not forget that the God of love is present with you — present to . . .
hear your groanings,
number your pains,
mark your tears,
listen to your prayers,
and bless you indeed.
You may not have the comfort of His presence — but you have the benefit of it. Endeavor to realize that God is with you — with you as a kind and gracious Father, watching over you to do you good.
By this affliction, He calls you . . .
to surrender yourself afresh to Him;
to seek your happiness alone in Him;
to cast all your cares upon Him;
to make known your request to Him!
He says, "I will be very gracious unto you at the voice of your cry. When I hear you — I will answer you." His eye is fixed upon you for good! He is full of compassion, and plenteous in mercy unto all who call upon Him in truth. Call then upon the Lord, in this day of trouble; He will deliver you — and you shall glorify Him.
"The Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes every one He accepts as a son." Hebrews 12:6