He troubles His people that they may be helped to take to heart thoroughly what they know concerning the vanity of all present things and the enduring nature alone of the things related to His purpose in Christ. We are so prone to cling to present things: we are so liable to forget the widesweeping and eternal reality of His mighty ways that we need a little help. There is nothing helps like trouble. This is the testimony of universal experience. Even the Psalmist says, "Before I was afflicted, I went astray: but now I have kept thy word."
Trouble need not, and will not, and can not, cease to be trouble: for then it would miss its effect. But there are different ways of taking it, and it is to suggest the right way of taking it that I, your fellow-sufferer, write these things. It can be taken with no resignation and no comfort. It needs not to be said that this is not the right way. This is a way that leads only to evil. I have seen many walk in this way. They are not sufficiently enlightened to know that trouble can have a mission. You are to them as one that mocks if you suggest that a· purpose is in it. They cannot see such a thing and they have no faith in it, and they refuse to be resigned or comforted. They feel only as a creature feels that is whipped. They smart under the pain and whine.
The danger of such a state of mind lies in the steps to which it will incline the person who is the subject of it. Never ha.ving in reality accepted the divine teaching that "whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth," he fails to be reasonably exercised by the chastening when it comes, and in the words of Christ, "is offended," or stumbles, and driven by it to be discouraged in all divine directions. He loses his interest in the truth: he ceases to find any pleasure in the duties associated with it: he returns to ways he had abandoned, and seeks to soothe the asperities of his sin
stricken state of existence in the exercises, occupations and pursuits of the old man, in pleasure, business or worldly association. Paul had to write of such a one at last "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved the present world."
The right way is known to you all; for my words are to those whom the Lamb shall at last lead to living fountains of waters, and wipe away all tears from their eyes. Those are "obedient children," who have learnt the spirit's wisdom at the mouth of the Apostles, when they say "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God:" "faint not when thou art rebuked of Him," "think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you as though some strange thing had happened unto you," "for hereunto were ye called:" "Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing."
The right way is not to kick at trouble, or resent it, or be discouraged by it, but to take it patiently -to look at it, and into it, so as to divine the meaning of it, and mix comfort with it. God is "a very present help in trouble" to all, who like David, "set God always before their face."
Paul calls Him "the God of all comfort," and adds "He comforteth us in all our tribulations that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble by the comfort wherewith we, ourselves, are comforted of God." This comfort we get by the exercise of our minds. God tells us not to be "like the horse or the mule which have no understanding." Trouble (Paul says) "yields the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them who are exercised thereby." Hence, we must reason, or exercise our minds upon, all our troubles, in order to get the comfort. By this, we do get it.