There are three distinct attitudes of heart in reference to divine chastening (child-training), namely, Subjection, Acquiescence, and Rejoicing. When the will submits, there is subjection; when the understanding is enlightened as to the object of the chastening, there is calm acquiescence; and when the affections are engaged with the Father’s heart, there is rejoicing. Then we can go forth with glad hearts to reap the golden harvest of the peaceable fruit of righteousness, to the praise of Him who, in His painstaking love, undertakes to care for us and to deal with us in holy government, and concentrate His care upon each one as though there were but that one to attend to.
How wonderful is all this! And how the thought of it should help us in all our trials and exercises! We are in the hands of One whose love is infinite, whose wisdom is inerrant, whose power is omnipotent, whose resources are inexhaustible. Why, then, should we ever be cast down? If He chastens us, it is because He loves us and seeks our real good. We may think the chastening grievous—we may feel disposed to wonder at times, how love can inflict pain and sickness upon us; but we must remember that divine love is wise and faithful, and only inflicts the pain, the illness, or the sorrow for our profit and blessing. We must not always judge of love by the form in which it clothes itself.
When we see a beloved child of the Father, or servant of the Lord Jesus, called to pass through years of intense suffering, we may feel disposed to wonder why it is; and perhaps the beloved sufferer may also tend to wonder, and at times be ready to faint under the weight of his long-protracted affliction. He may cry out, “Why am I thus?” Can this be love? Can this be the expression of a Father’s tender care?
Yes, verily, is Faith’s bright and decided reply. It is all love—all divinely right. I would not have it otherwise for worlds. I know this transient suffering is working out eternal blessing (Rom 8:18). I know my loving Father has put me into this furnace to purge away my dross and bring out in me the expression of His own blessed image. I know that divine love will always do the very best for its object, and therefore this intense suffering is the very best thing for me. Of course, I feel it, for I am not a stick or a stone. My Father intends for me to feel it.
But I bless Him with my whole heart, for the grace that shines in the wondrous fact of His occupying Himself with me, in this way, to correct what He sees to be wrong with me. I praise Him for putting me into the furnace; and how can I but praise Him, when I see Himself, in infinite grace and patience, sitting over the furnace to watch the process, and lift me out the moment the work is accomplished.
This is the true way, and this is the right spirit in which to pass through chastening of any kind, be it bodily affliction, sore bereavement, loss of property, or pressure of circumstances. We have to trace the hand of our Father, to read His loving heart, to recognize the divine object in it all. This will enable us to vindicate, justify, and glorify our Father in the furnace of affliction. It will correct every murmuring thought, and hush every fretful utterance; it will fill our hearts with peace and rest and our mouths with praise. Our Father applies it all “for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness” (Heb 12:10).
- C H Mackintosh