“Though the Lord has tried you for many months of afflictions, think it not strange, since you are put among God’s children, that you have had and must have your own part of afflictions—they are, they shall be, your Father’s love-tokens! Satan and unbelief often misrepresent God to His tried children. “If God was your Friend, your Father,” say they, “if He loved you, He would not allow such grievous things to befall you—He takes no notice of you—He turns a deaf ear to your prayers—and who among God’s children are so greatly afflicted as you are? Do not these things show that you have been deceived—that you are not among the number of God’s children—that you have no saving interest in His special favor—but He lays these heavy strokes upon you in wrathful displeasure.” And especially do they urge these things upon God’s tried children from that sin which they sadly find to work in them under trying dispensations. And if they can but get God’s children to hearken to them, these enemies gain their end upon them—to weaken their faith, to dampen their love, to slay their meekness and patience, and to cause them to murmur and fret at afflicting providence.It is wisdom, then, in God’s children, instantly to cry unto Him for wisdom and strength to discern and resist these enemies in their lying voice, upon the first hearing of it; for this we may be very certain of, “that whatever comes from God leads to Him—and whatever excites us to depart from Him as the God of all grace—is from unbelief and Satan.” Nothing like faith in God’s love to us, as His dear children in Christ—strengthens our spirits to endure afflictions patiently to His glory and our joy.
And therefore, says the apostle Paul, “whom the Lord loves, He chastens.” He proposes the ‘love of God in chastening’ as the ground of a believer’s faith, for his strength in patient suffering. And says James, “The trying of your faith works patience.” If faith has got a thwart in the fight, God will come in with His auxiliary aid for the help of His child, and give his faith renewed strength; and then, instantly, his tried faith being made to stand upright in God and for Him, after its thwarting and in its trial, the child of faith is patience. Says faith—”God’s love is in the sharpest stroke!” Then says patience—”I will endure it until love shall bring joyous fruit out of present grief.” And lest patience should faint when trials are great and of long continuance, the apostle adds, “Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.” It is as if he should say—You are to be made perfect in very grace, and every perfected grace to redound to your eternal glory—therefore patiently endure the greatest, the longest trial here, that is to fit you for your immortal crown hereafter—that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing—nothing lacking in the exercise of grace—and lacking nothing in your crown of glory!”
– Anne Dutton (1692-1765)