Having lost three wives during the course of his life, John Flavel (1628-91) was well-acquainted with sorrow’s iron rod. He wrote a popular book called Keeping The Heart, in which he describes what it means to keep one’s heart in different seasons of life. It is worth hearing what this man has to say about the season of adversity:
- Afflictions never happen by accident but by the good counsel of God. God aims the sanctification of his children through it, and hence you ought to receive it with joy. It pulls down pride and carnal security, while ensuring eternal and glorious ends that God has in mind. “It is good that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (Ps 119:71)
- His steadfast love towards his people is unchanging; it is something that he will never take away. Every temporary blessing, he may chose to remove. But in the midst of all lose, the truth that he will never forsake those whom he loves with an everlasting love will sustain you.
- Afflictions proceed from the Father’s hand whose heart is filled with love towards his children. There is no room then for doubt God’s goodness when walking through the most perplexing trials.
- Your lowly condition does not change God’s love, grace and tenderness towards you. It is of no difference to God whether you be in high or low position in life. Summer-friends may desert, but the Lord will not.
- God may bring about affliction to save your soul from the idol that may otherwise eternally ruin you.
- Affliction might be the very answer to your prayers regarding a specific matter. He might be using it to put to death your lusts and make you find you the rest that only enjoying Christ can bring.
- His marvelous work of providence is working all things in perfect harmony. Were we to know beforehand the whole purpose and design behind afflictions, and how they bring about the completion of one’s salvation, then the most dejected heart would rejoice. Though we be in the dark regarding his designs, we can nevertheless trust him and have peace knowing his good will towards us.
- Lie patiently when God afflicts. Discontented fretting will only result in God increasing the degree of affliction to quiet the rebellious child.
- If nothing else consoles, compare your current condition with those in hell. Would they not give anything to exchange their place with yours? God in his mercy has granted pardon to you, a sinner deserving hell. If he has saved you from this, the worst momentary afflictions are light in comparison.