The terrible necessity of tribulation

Let Him but sheathe that sword for a moment and I behave like a puppy when the hated bath is over…

I am progressing along the path of life in my ordinary contentedly fallen and godless condition, absorbed in a merry meeting with my friends for the morrow or a bit of work that tickles my vanity today, a holiday or a new book, when suddenly a stab of abdominal pain that threatens serious disease, or a headline in the newspapers that threatens us all with destruction, sends this whole pack of cards tumbling down. At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys. . . . And perhaps, by God’s grace, I succeed, and for a day or two become a creature consciously dependent on God and drawing its strength from the right sources. But the moment the threat is withdrawn, my whole nature leaps back to the toys. . .

Thus the terrible necessity of tribulation is only too clear. God has had me but forty-eight hours and then only by dint of taking everything else away from me. Let Him but sheathe that sword for a moment and I behave like a puppy when the hated bath is over–I shake myself as dry as I can and race off to reacquire my comfortable dirtiness, if not in the nearest manure heap, at least in the nearest flower bed. And that is why tribulations cannot cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is now hopeless.

— C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Newton: the Lord only afflicts for our good

We could do much worse than start the week off with some wisdom from John Newton.

…be not discouraged; the Lord only afflicts for our good. It is necessary that our sharpest trials should sometimes spring from our dearest comforts, else we should be in danger of forgetting ourselves, and setting up our rest here. In such a world, and with such hearts as we have, we shall often need something to prevent our cleaving to the dust, to quicken us to prayer, and to make us feel that our dependence for one hour’s peace is upon the Lord alone.

–John Newton, “To the Rev. William Rose,” Letter II. 21 December 1776. Letters of John Newton.

Heaven will be sweeter for the misery

From Paul to Adoniram Judson:

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison . . . {2Cor 4:16-17 NAS}

In Dr. Judson’s house in Burma some friends were speculating on the highest form of happiness which could arise from outward circumstances, and each fortified his own opinion by the judgment of some authority. ‘Pooh,’ said Dr. Judson who had been recalling his terrible imprisonment in Ava, ‘these men were not qualified to judge. What do you think of floating down the Irrawadi, on a cool, moonlight evening, with your wife by your side, and your baby in your arms, free, all free? But you cannot understand it, either; it needs a twenty-one months’ qualification; and I can scarcely regret my twenty-one months of misery when I recall that one delicious thrill. I think I have had a better appreciation of what heaven may be ever since.’ -David McIntyre, The Hidden Life of Prayer