How to See God's Hand in Your Suffering
John Flavel, in 1678, instructs readers to see God as the author of all circumstances in life, including suffering:
Set before you the sovereignty of God. Eye Him as the Being infinitely superior to you, at whose pleasure you and all your have subsist (Psalm 115:3), which is the most conclusive reason and argument for submission (Psalm 46:10). For if we, all we have proceeded from His will, how right is it that we be resigned up to it!
Set the grace and goodness of God before you in all afflictive providences. O see Him passing by you i the cloudy and dark day, proclaiming His name, 'The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious' (Exodus 34:6).
Eye the wisdom of God in all your afflictions. Behold it in the choice of the kind of your affliction, this, and not another; the time, now and not at another season; the degree, in this measure only, and not in a greater; the supports offered you under it, not left altogether helpless; the issue to which it is overruled, it is to your good, not ruin.
Set the faithfulness of the Lord before you under the saddest providences.
O what quietness will this breed! I see my God will not lose my heart, if a rod can prevent it. he would rather hear me groan here than howl hereafter. His love is judicious, not fond. He consults my good rather than my ease.
Eye the all-sufficiency of God in the day of affliction. See enough in Him still, whatever is gone. Here is the fountain still as full as ever, though this or that pipe is cut off, which was wont to convey somewhat of it to me.
Lastly, eye the immutablity of God. Look on Him as the Rock of ages, 'The Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1:17). Eye Jesus Christ as 'the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.'
The Mystery of Providence, 1678, (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2006), 130-132, bold and paragraphing mine.
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