With an increase of knowledge and apprehension of the truth, there is a constant sense that we are not practically up to what we have received; and hence the measure of our strength is not the enjoyment of a truth, but the extent to which we maintain what we believe in spite of every obstacle. It is the way in which we surmount the difficulties in our path, which really indicates our spiritual strength, and not the enjoyment of the truth which defines our position.
The revelation unfolds our Father to us in His nature and purposes, and as we believe in Him thus revealed in the Word, we depend on Him is every circumstance in which we are placed; and everything, the smallest as well as the greatest, tests and proves our faith, where nothing is in accordance with it. Hence the measure of our strength is the strait we pass through in the power of the lord Jesus Christ.
The more I see of my Father's favor to me - and in that way the deeper my enjoyment - the more I must be practically superior to everything that would rob me of it. A lesser portion would expose me to less opposition; but the highest portion would expose me to opposition from everything, where everything is contrary to God and His truth.
We read or hear His Word, the light reaches our heart, we are delighted, we see His grace and purpose towards us. Now if we are walking by faith, and have received the truth in faith, we are not shaken by the things here which refuse and deny it; but the contrarieties only prove and manifest it. Hence it is "the proving of your faith, much more precious than of gold which perishes, though it be proved by fire" (1 Pet 1:7); and as there is faith, as one stands the test, patience - enduring power of holding out - is ensured.
The believing soul experiences a sense of enjoyment in the reception of a truth; but it is when we come into contact with contrarieties that we prove whether we are really dependent on our Father with respect to it. If everything is favorable, there would be no sifting or testing, no disclosure of the amount of faith; but when faith is tested, then patience is acquired, power to bear up against what is adverse; and therefore the measure of our strength is the strait we pass through with our Father.
What I see in the Word defines the extent of my position above, and my strength is as I maintain my position in circumstances entirely adverse to it. Paul, as a man in Christ, is carried into the "third heaven" - a revelation of untold blessedness while in the light of it; but when he comes back from the region, where everything is for him, to this, where everything is against him - Satan buffeting him - his strength is as he maintains himself here by faith in the power of the Lord Jesus. "My strength is made perfect in (your) weakness."
There is no personal knowledge of the Father but as we count on Him, as we are practically conscious of depending on Him and of His caring for us (1 Pet 5:7). One without straits and exercises and triumphs, really has no growing acquaintance with Him; and where there is not this, however great the intelligence or sincerity, there is little or no savor. It is the trials and difficulties of the way which are the opportunities for our hearts to grow in acquaintance with the Father; and it will be found, while there may be great enjoyment in ministry, and in the unfolding of truth, that really there is not strength but in proportion as one has learned how the Father has been for and with one in the trials and sorrows of life; and as one has known Him in them, so is one able to speak of Him.
- J B Stoney
Fit First -MJS