Perfected Through Suffering

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Now comes My hour of heart-break, and what can I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? No, it was for this very purpose that I came to this hour.
(John 12:27 Phillips)

There is one all-comprehending, all-embracing, all-governing purpose to which God has committed Himself, by creation, by redemption, and by union. That purpose is the conformity of a race to the image of His Son. This is man’s chief end and chief good. What more satisfied and ‘happy’ person is there – even amidst suffering and sorrow – than he or she who is most perfect in patience, love, faith, and the other “fruits of the Spirit”? If our requests regarding things were granted, while we were left the same people, unchanged in disposition and nature, it would not be long before we should be in the same unhappy condition over other things. There is possible for us some inherent quality that wears out circumstances and reigns above them. Some of the most radiant people have been the greatest sufferers in infirmity, poverty, or other forms of adversity; whilst the most ‘privileged’ are often the most discontented.

The solution to the problem of suffering does not lie in being philosophical; it is not in fatalistic resignation – ‘This is my lot; I suppose I must accept it.’ It is not in passive or active suppression of desire. It is far removed from self-pity, bitterness, cynicism, or envy, and the rest of their wretched family of wilderness-makers and wanderers. We may have to let go the particular occasion of our trouble, and first recognize, and then embrace with our heart, the fact that in the affliction there resides the immense eternal potentiality of an increase of the image of God’s Son, which is to be the one and the only character and nature of the eternal kingdom. We have too much visualized the ‘Heaven’ that is to be, as geographical and pleasurable, without giving sufficient weight to the fact of a nature which is to be inculcated and perfected.

Perfected Through Suffering

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