Worldly wisdom and self-help philosophy tell us that the way to deal with difficulties is to get a different perspective on them. The trouble is that they cannot offer anything but a worldly perspective on them. Yet from this perspective earthly loss and trouble will always still matter greatly. If we consider such things in the light of eternal and spiritual realities we have true and sure comfort within the eye of the storm.
There is a greater burden than our troubles. Andrew Gray expressed astonishment at the unspeakable folly and madness among many. They are content under the unbearable burden of their sins which before long will sink them into the lowest hell. True happiness must be in having these sins forgiven. Why do people not pursue this as the most important matter? Gray gives some reasons why this is the case.
- They do not feel the burden of their sin.
- They do not consider deeply how shameful and abominable sin is.
- They do not consider deeply the infinite justice of God.
- They have not spent time considering deeply from God’s law how exceedingly sinful sin is.
- They do not consider deeply the blessings that come from the forgiveness of sins.
We need to experience the blessings of this pardon and the assurance that we have been forgiven. Andrew Gray shows how assurance of the forgiveness of sins supports us through our trials.
1. Divine Comfort in Trials
Those who have their sins forgiven can comfort themselves with this. No matter how distressing and their lot may be in this world it is a comfort to them. “Son, be of good cheer” the Saviour said, because his sins were forgiven (Matthew 9:2). O what divine comfort the soul of a Christian can reap by reflecting on the fact that his sins are pardoned? “The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall say no more that they are sick”. This is because “their iniquities are forgiven them” (Isaiah 32:20).
2. Understanding in Trials
The Christian who has been forgiven understands why they experience affliction. The same affliction is a mystery for one that lacks forgiveness. Samson’s riddle is no mystery to a Christian. Food comes “out of the eater” and sweetness “out of the strong”. [see Judges 14:5-9 and 14, Gray is comparing afflictions to a lion. The believer overcomes them and receives sweetness out of them]. God makes up for their afflictions with the fact that He knows their soul in adversity (see Psalm 31:7).
3. Hope in Trials
Those who have their sins forgiven have the hope of glory despite their anxious thoughts within. They can drown all these in hope of the endless depths of enjoying God throughout all eternity. “Being justified by faith…we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2). All your rivers of sorrows will sweetly dissolve in that endless ocean of unspeakable joy. It is not long until you will have entire and everlasting release from all these things that so greatly overwhelm you now. Sorrow and sighing will then flee away, being afraid to seize hold on you.
4. Peace with God in Trials
Undoubtedly, it requires the tongue of an angel to commend the precious benefit of peace with God. This flows to a pardoned Christian. What could be more desirable than to have the peace that passes all understanding? If we believed how great God is, it would be our greatest ambition and most earnest request to have peace with Him. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1-2).
5. Patience in Trials
Submission to God and patience are possible even under the saddest and most bitter providences. It is impossible for those who are uncertain about their condition to be patient under the rod. Neither can those who have been ordained to condemnation of old (Jude 4). Yet one who has forgiveness made sure can endure the saddest and most bitter things with great patience. Is he afflicted by reproach from others? He will make it up with this: “I am pardoned”. His losses may multiply. Nothing else makes up for it all except this (and it is certainly enough). “I have obtained mercy and pardon from God through Jesus Christ”.
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