reflectingJesus | Character & Suffering
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A W Tozer

“It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He’s hurt him deeply.” (Roots of Righteousness, Chapter 39)

Calvin Miller

Hurt is the essential ingredient of ultimate Christ-likeness. (Quoted in Christianity Today, July 2007, p41)

Larry Crabb

Brokenness isn’t so much about how bad you’ve been hurt but how you’ve sinned in handling it. (Christianity Today, A Shrink Gets Stretched, May 1, 2003)Shattered dreams are never random. They are always a piece of a piece in a larger story. The Holy Spirit uses the pain of shattered dreams to help us discover our descire for God, to help us begin dreaming the highest dream. They are ordained opportunities for the Spirit to first awaken, then to satisfy our highest dream. (Shattered Dreams, 2001)

Alfred Monod

“And if among the trials that you are called to bear, there is one that seems, I do not say heavier than the others, but more compromising to your ministry, and likely to ruin forever the hopes of your holy mission, if outward temptations be added to these coming from within, if all seems assailed, body, mind, spirit, if all seems lost without remedy, well, accept this trial, shall I say, or this assemblage of trials, in a peculiar feeling of submission, hope and gratitude, as a trial in which the Lord will cause you to find a new mission. Hail it as the beginning of a ministry of weakness and bitterness… which He will cause to abound in more living fruit than your ministry of strength and joy in days gone by ever yielded.” (Adolph Monod, Farewell, quoted by Amy Carmichael in, Learning Of God, (London: SPCK, 1983), 52.)

Alan Redpath

“When God wants to do an impossible task, he takes an impossible person and crushes him.” (Quoted by Gary Preston, Character Forged from Conflict: Staying Connected to God During Controversy. The pastor’s soul series, (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1999)

Bruce Wilkinson

“Are you praying for God’s superabundant blessings and pleading that He will make you more like His Son? If so, then you are asking for the shears.” (Secrets of the Vine, 60.)

Charles Swindoll

“Someone put it this way, ‘Whoever desires to walk with God, walks right into the crucible.’ All who choose godliness live in a crucible. The tests will come.” (Moses, Great Lives from God’s Word, 285.)

“Being stripped of all substitutes is the most painful experience on earth.” (David, p70)

Elisabeth Elliot

“The surrender of our heart’s deepest longing is perhaps as close as we come to an understanding of the cross… our own experience of crucifixion, though immeasurably less than our Saviour’s nonetheless furnishes us with a chance to begin to know Him in the fellowship of His suffering. In every form of our own suffering, He calls us into that fellowship.” (Elisabeth Elliot, Quest For Love, (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1996), 182.)

 

George MacDonald

“No words can express how much our world ‘owes’ to sorrow. Most of the Psalms were conceived in a wilderness. Most of the New Testament was written in a prison. The greatest words of God’s Scriptures have all passed through great trials. The greatest prophets have “learned in suffering what they wrote in their books.” So take comfort afflicted Christian! When our God is about to make use of a person, He allows them to go through a crucible of fire.”

 

Helen Keller

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through the experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” (Quoted in Leadership, Vol. 17, no. 4.)

Oswald Chambers

  1. “God can never make us wine if we object to the fingers He uses to crush us with. If God would only use His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured-out wine in a special way! But when He uses someone whom we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, and makes those the crushers, we object. We must never choose the scene of our own martyrdom. If ever we are going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed; you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed.” (Chambers, O. (1993, c1935). My utmost for his highest : Selections for the year (September 30). Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers.)
  2. “No-one enters into the experience of entire sanctification without going through a ‘white funeral’ — the burial of the old life. If there has never been this crisis of death, sanctification is nothing more than a vision… Have you come to your last days really? You have come to them often in sentiment, but have you come to them really?… We skirt around the cemetery and all the time refuse to go to death… Have you had your ‘white funeral’, or are you sacredly playing the fool with your soul? Is there a place in your life marked as the last day, a place to which the memory goes back with a chastened and extraordinary grateful remembrance–’yes, it was then, at that ‘white funeral’ that I made an agreement with God.” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, January 15, (Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour and Company, Inc., 1963).)
  3. “Jesus Christ had no tenderness whatsoever toward anything that was ultimately going to ruin a person in his service to God…. If the Spirit of God brings to your mind a word of the Lord that hurts you, you can be sure that there is something in you that He wants to hurt to the point of its death.” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, September 27, (Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour and Company, Inc., 1963.)

Charles Stanley

Does God purposefully allow suffering? “The comfortable, but theologically incorrect, answer is no. You will find many people preaching and teaching that God never sends an ill wind into a person’s life, but that position can’t be justified by Scripture. The Bible teaches that God does send adversity – but within certain parameters and always for a reason that relates to our growth, perfection, and eternal good.” (*Stanley, C. F. 1997, c1996. Advancing through adversity (electronic ed.). Thomas Nelson: Nashville, TN.)

 

Ellen White

  1. Friends who turn against us. “Now is our time of peril. Our only safety is in walking in the footsteps of Christ, and wearing his yoke. Troublous times are before us. In many instances, friends will become alienated. Without cause men will become our enemies. The motives of the people of God will be misinterpreted, not only by the world, but by their own brethren. The Lord’s servants will be put in hard places. A mountain will be made of a molehill to justify men in pursuing a selfish, unrighteous course. The work that men have done faithfully will be disparaged and underrated, because apparent prosperity does not attend their efforts. By misrepresentation these men will be clothed in dark vestments of dishonesty because circumstances beyond their control made their work perplexing. They will be pointed to as men that can not be trusted. And this will be done by members of the church. God’s servants must arm themselves with the mind of Christ. They must not expect to escape insult and misjudgement. They will be called enthusiasts and fanatics. But let them not become discouraged. God’s hands are on the wheel of his providence, guiding his work to the glory of his name.” (SpM 370)
  2. Training through failure and disappointment. Some God trains by bringing to them disappointment and apparent failure. It is His purpose that they shall learn to master difficulties. He inspires them with a determination to prove every apparent failure a success. Often men pray and weep because of the perplexities and obstacles that confront them. But if they will hold the beginning of their confidence steadfast unto the end, God will make their way clear. Success will come as they struggle against apparently insurmountable difficulties and with success will come the greatest joy.
  3. A life of monotony is not the most conducive to spiritual growth. Some can reach the highest standard of spirituality only through a change in the regular order of things. When in His providence God sees that changes are essential for the success of the character-building, He disturbs the smooth current of the life. He sees that a worker needs to be more closely associated with Him; and to bring this about, He separates him from friends and acquaintances. When He was preparing Elijah for translation, God moved him from  place to place, that the prophet might not settle down at ease, and thus fail of gaining spiritual power. And it was God’s design that Elijah’s influence should be a power to help many souls to gain a wider, more helpful experience.
  4. There are many who are not satisfied to serve God cheerfully in the place that He has marked out for them, or to do uncomplainingly the work that He has placed in their hands. It is right to be dissatisfied with the way in which we perform duty, but we are not to be dissatisfied with the duty itself because we would rather do something else. In His providence God places before human beings service that will be as medicine to their diseased minds. Thus He seeks to lead them to put aside the selfish preference, which, if gratified, would disqualify them for the work He has for them. If they accept and perform this service, their minds will be cured. If they refuse it, they will be left at strife with themselves and others.  (Gospel Workers 269-270)
  5. Character matured through difficult circumstances in answer to our prayers. Often when we pray for the graces of the Spirit, God works to answer our prayers by placing us in circumstances to develop these fruits; but we do not understand His purpose, and wonder, and are dismayed. Yet none can develop these graces except through the process of growth and fruit bearing. Our part is to receive God’s word and to hold it fast, yielding ourselves fully to its control, and its purpose in us will be accomplished. (Christ’s Object Lessons, 61)
  6. Character not easy to get. Christ has given us no assurance that to attain to perfection of character is an easy matter. It is a conflict, a battle and a march, day by day. It is through much tribulation that we enter the kingdom of heaven. In order to share with Christ in His glory we must share in His suffering. . . . He has overcome for us. Shall we, then, be timid and cowardly because of the trials that we meet as we advance? . . .  (SD 198)
  7. God leading us to maturity through difficult circumstances. To live such a life, to exert such an influence, costs at every step effort, self-sacrifice, discipline. It is because they do not understand this that many are so easily discouraged in the Christian life. Many who sincerely consecrate their lives to God’s service are surprised and disappointed to find themselves, as never before, confronted by obstacles and beset by trials and perplexities. They pray for Christlikeness of character, for a fitness for the Lord’s work, and they are placed in circumstances that seem to call forth all the evil of their nature. Faults are revealed of which they did not even suspect the existence. Like Israel of old they question, “If God is leading us, why do all these things come upon us?”
  8. It is because God is leading them that these things come upon them. Trials and obstacles are the Lord’s chosen methods of discipline and His appointed conditions of success. He who reads the hearts of men knows their characters better than they themselves know them. He sees that some have powers and susceptibilities which, rightly directed, might be used in the advancement of His work. In His providence He brings these persons into different positions and varied circumstances that they may discover in their character the defects which have been concealed from their own knowledge. He gives them opportunity to correct these defects and to fit themselves for His service. Often He permits the fires of affliction to assail them that they may be purified.  (Ministry of Healing, 471-2)
  9. The need of ministers. Our ministers need a transformation of character. They should feel that if their works are not wrought in God, if they are left to their own imperfect efforts, they are of all men the most miserable. Christ will be with every minister who, although he may not have attained to perfection of character, is seeking most earnestly to become Christlike. Such a minister will pray. He will weep between the porch and the altar, crying in soul anguish for the Lord’s presence to be with him; else he cannot stand before the people, with all heaven looking upon him, and the angel’s pen taking note of his words, his deportment, and his spirit.  (Testimonies to Ministers, 143)
  10. The inevitability of trials. Those who are finally victorious will have seasons of terrible perplexity and trial in their religious life, but they must not cast away their confidence, for this is part of their discipline in the school of Christ, and it is essential in order that all the dross may be purged away. The servant of God must endure with fortitude the attacks of the enemy, his grievous taunts, and must overcome the obstacles which Satan will place in his way… but if you keep looking up, not down at your difficulties, you will not faint in the way, you will soon see Jesus reaching his hand to help you, and you will only have to give him your hand in simple confidence, and let Him lead you. As you become trustful, you will become hopeful… You will find help in Christ to form a strong, symmetrical, beautiful character. Satan cannot make of none effect the light shining forth from such a character… God has given us his best gift, even His only-begotten Son, to uplift, ennoble, and fit us, by putting on us His own perfection of character, for a home in His kingdom. (Messages To Young People, 63)
  11. The crucible of purification repeated. “God has shown me that He gave His people a bitter cup to drink, to purify and cleanse them. It is a bitter draught, and they can make it still more bitter by murmuring, complaining, and repining. But those who receive it thus must have another draught, for the first does not have its designed effect upon the heart. And if the second does not effect the work, then they must have another, and another, until it does have its designed effect, or they will be left filthy, impure in heart. I saw that this bitter cup can be sweetened by patience, endurance, and prayer, and that it will have its designed effect upon the hearts of those who thus receive it, and God will be honoured and glorified.” (Early Writings, 47).
  12. Suffering through circumstances to reveal our imperfections. “He who reads the hearts of men knows their characters better than they themselves know them. He sees that some have powers and susceptibilities which, rightly directed, might be used in the advancement of His work. In His providence He brings these persons into different positions and varied circumstances that they may discover in their character the defects which have been concealed from their own knowledge. He gives them opportunity to correct these defects and to fit themselves for His service. Often He permits the fires of affliction to assail them that they may be purified.” (The Ministry of Healing, 471)
  13. The roles of the Father in training through suffering. “In the full light of day, and in hearing of the music of other voices, the caged bird will not sing the song that his master seeks to teach him. He learns a snatch of this, a trill of that, but never a separate and entire melody. But the master covers the cage, and places it where the bird will listen to the one song he is to sing. In the dark, he tries and tries again to sing that song until it is learned, and he breaks forth in perfect melody. Then the bird is brought forth, and ever after he can sing that song in the light. Thus God deals with His children. He has a song to teach us, and when we have learned it amid the shadows of affliction we can sing it ever afterward.” (Ministry of Healing, 472)
  14. God places us in situations that test us. “The Lord frequently places us in difficult positions to stimulate us to greater exertion. In His providence special annoyances sometimes occur to test our patience and faith. God gives us lessons of trust. He would teach us where to look for help and strength in time of need. Thus we obtain practical knowledge of His divine will, which we so much need in our life experience. Faith grows strong in earnest conflict with doubt and fear.” (4T 116, 117 (1876))
  15. Tested like gold for reflection. A harsh-spirited man is unrefined, coarse; he is not spiritual; he has not a heart of flesh, but a heart as unimpressible as a stone. His only help is to fall on the Rock, and be broken. The Lord will place all such in the crucible, and try them in fire, as gold is tried. When He can see His own image reflected in them He will remove them. (Sons and Daughters of God, 100)
  16. God is leading still. Yet we should not lose courage when assailed by temptation. Often when placed in a trying situation we doubt that the Spirit of God has been leading us. But it was the Spirit’s leading that brought Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. When God brings us into trial, He has a purpose to accomplish for our good.
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