Here is just a quick excerpt from Jeremiah Burroughs' book The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. I'm posting this because of a conversation my friend and I just had over dinner. We were talking about our lives and past experiences and how both of us have gone/are going through VERY similar situations. What happened to me a year and a half ago has been happening to her (freakishly similar) in the past 5 or so months, and it has been SUCH a blessing to see this verse right here really take place in my life:
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them who are in any trouble, by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God.
We are both athletes in which the Lord used our sports as a means to completely break us down and remove the pride out of our lives. The very same comfort that the Lord gave me during that time is the same comfort I was able to offer her through the grace of God while she was going through it. But we talked about how alllllll of that hard stuff that we went through was amazing now that we look back on it, because had we not gone through it we wouldn't have been broken in our sins and seen the work of Christ for the precious jewel that it is. We would still be serving the idols of our fleshly desires. It reminded me of the passage that I had read in this book and immediately after dinner we went back to my apartment to read through this. It is very biblical for those that the Lord calls His to be afflicted greatly here on earth. In fact, it is promised- but all our afflictions represent blessings in disguise.
The carnal mind will NEVER grasp or understand this concept, but thank the Lord that He gives us the understanding and the spiritual eyes to see the purpose of our afflictions. I know that it has been the great trials and sufferings in my life that have yielded the greatest amount of growth. I know I write about this a lot, and it almost seems to be the subject of all my posts, but honestly, it is the issue that I find myself in practically all the time. Whenever one trial ends, it seems another one begins, and we all need to keep it in perspective. The perspective that God is in control and if we are His then we can rest assuredly- knowing that it is all for the furthering of our sanctification and preparing us for that Great Day when we join our King for eternity. I write about it a lot because I am tempted to forget this truth on a DAILY basis. Also, I know a few people in my life who are being broken by the Lord and are having trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I have been there, and I pray that this passage brings them encouragment. And for those of you have experienced those tmes of being completely broken before an almighty God, rejoice for those moments of pure desperation that they brought, knowing that they helped refine your faith. I pray we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds with these truths, because it is an ongoing process that will be with us for as long as we are on this earth:
USUALLY WHEN GOD INTENDS THE GREATEST MERCY TO ANY OF HIS PEOPLE HE BRINGS THEM INTO THE LOWEST CONDITION.
1 Samuel 26:29). God dealt this way with his Son: Christ himself went into glory by suffering (Hebrews 2:10); and if God so deals with his own Son, much more with his people.
A little before daybreak you will observe it is darker than it was any time before, so God will make our conditions a little darker before the mercy comes. When God bestowed the last great mercy at Naseby* we were in a very low condition; God knew what he had to do beforehand, he knew that his time was coming for great mercies: it is the way of God to do so. [*In 1645, the parliamentary army won a decisive victory against the Royalists at Naseby, Northamptonshire. The messages which comprise this book were preached by Burroughs in that year.] Be instructed aright in this course and way that God is accustomed to walk in and that will greatly help us to contentment.
IT IS THE WAY OF GOD TO WORK BY CONTRARIES, TO TURN THE GREATEST EVIL INTO THE GREATEST GOOD.
To grant great good after great evil is one thing, and to turn great evil into the greatest good is another, and yet that is God's way: the greatest good that God intends for his people, he many times works out of the greatest evil, the greatest light is brought out of the greatest darkness. I remember, Luther has a striking expression for this: he says, 'It is the way of God: he humbles that he might exalt, he kills that he might make alive, he confounds that he might glorify.' This is the way of God, he says, but every one does not understand it. This is the art of arts, and the science of sciences, the knowledge of knowledges, to understand this, that God when he will bring life, brings it out of death, he brings joy out of sorrow, and he brings prosperity out of adversity, yea and many times brings grace out of sin, that is, makes use of sin to work furtherance of grace. it is the way of God to bring all good out of evil, not only to overcome the evil, but to make the evil work toward the good. Now when the soul comes to understand this, it will take away our murmuring and bring contentment into spirits. But I fear there are but few who understand it aright; perhaps they read of such things, and hear such things in a sermon, but they are not instructed in this by Jesus Christ, that this is the way of God, to bring the greatest good out of the greatest evil.