I just finished the book “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” by Jeremiah Burroughs a 17th century English puritan preacher that was first published in 1648 on the subject of contentment. His desire was to “revive the drooping spirits of the saints in these sad and sinking times,” in 1648 no less. Truly there is nothing new under sun is there?
In this continuation of last Monday’s post, he shows us three things to help us understand God’s ways of dealing with His people providentially which expands point 4 from last week.
- God’s ordinary course is that his people in this world should be in an afflicted condition – ‘Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;’ (I Peter 4:12). People who do not understand God’s ways will think it strange that Christians should suffer and their enemies prevail, but it is God’s will for his people to be afflicted so that we may be conformed to the image of Christ.
- Usually when God intends the greatest mercy to any of his people he brings them into the lowest condition – Usually the people of God, before the greatest comforts, have the greatest afflictions and sorrows. Those who do not have a proper understanding of God’s ways think that when he brings his people into sad conditions, that he is leaving and forsaking them, and that God does not intend any great good to them. But both Joseph and David are great examples of when God intends the greatest mercy, he brings men under the greatest afflictions.
- It is the way of God to work by contraries, to turn the greatest evil into the greatest good – The greatest good that God intends for his people, he many times works out of the greatest evil. Understanding 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, and many times brings grace out of sin.
So you see having a proper understanding of the providence of God can do much to alleviate the stress and anxiety that our circumstances seem to bring on which then also leads to much murmuring and discontentment. Our Loving, Merciful, and Gracious God intends (gives) ALL things for our good and His ultimate Glory (Rom 8:28).