In God’s School
Man is the supreme product in this world, and the struggle with adversity and evil forces is a part of God’s plan of developing him for mansions and thrones and crowns and kingdoms in the world to come. Therefore we must believe and hope and love and struggle on. ‘For in due season we shall reap, if we faint not’ (Gal. vi. 9). We must beware of discouragement and from running away from the conflict. If we flee we shall perish for ever. If we fight to the finish, we shall conquer though we die.
Nothing can come to us that God does not permit, and which by His grace cannot be made to work out our higher good. God wants to build us up in holy character, but holy character is for eternity and is many sided, and therefore must be subjected to manifold testings. We must be taught by both pain and pleasure, we must learn how to abound and to suffer need. And in this we shall often be plunged from the heights to the depths, and hurled from the depths to the heights again.
Today the sun shines and the world is full of beauty, and life seems a holiday, but tomorrow the storm-clouds lower and the beauty is hid, and we are prone to fear that the sun will shine no more. Today men look upon us and smile and shout ‘Hosanna! but tomorrow they frown and gnash their teeth and cry out, ‘Crucify Him.’ Today we have plenty and can feed the multitudes of the hungry with what we have to spare; tomorrow we ourselves are hungry and know not where to turn for bread. Today our pulse is full and we feel strong to chase a thousand; tomorrow we are feeble and broken and life is a burden. Today we pray and God hears us before we call and answers while we are yet speaking; tomorrow we plead and weep and moan and the heavens seem shut, and the mocking tempter whispers, ‘Where is thy God now?’
Today Job is the richest man in all the East, and his sons are the strongest and his daughters are the fairest in the land; tomorrow he is a pauper and childless. Today Joseph is the pet of his father’s heart and home; tomorrow he is under the lash and is toiling and galled with the slave gang’s chain. Today David weds the king’s daughter; tomorrow the king, with murderous hate, hurls his javelin at him and chases him over and around the mountains as he would a partridge or a wolf. Today Daniel sits next to the king in the midst of the hundred and twenty princes and counselors; tonight he is in the lions’ den.
What means all this uncertainty and mystery of pleasure and pain, of hope and despair, of favor and disfavor? Ah, Hallelujah! it means that God wants us for Himself. Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth (disciplineth)’ (Heb. xii. 6). It means that He sees there is something in us worth His while to educate, and He is educating us.
A friend of mine owned a gold mine. He promised the Lord every penny of profit from it. He made nothing, but lost twenty thousand pounds in that mine. He went to the Lord about it. The Lord said, ‘I am educating you, and I can afford to spend millions to do so.’ My friend cried out, ‘O Lord, if Thou canst afford it, I can, for Thou knowest I want to be educated in Thy school!’
God would make us strong in faith, mighty in prayer, unfailing in hope, content whatever our lot, perfect in love, fearless in our devotion to truth, lovers of men and more than conquerors.
He would wean us from man, in whom there is no help, to Himself; He would detach us from the world and fasten us by every tie to Heaven. When Job shall have learned his lesson, which is not for himself alone, but for ten thousand times ten thousand other perplexed sufferers as well, he shall have his riches doubled and restored to him again with stronger sons and fairer daughters.
Joseph shall leave the prison cell and slave gang’s chain and sit as favorite in Pharaoh’s palace and rule his empire. The king shall die by his own hand, and David shall sit upon his throne. Daniel shall escape from the lions’ den and rise to higher honour and esteem than he knew before. Thus shall it be with the man who does not kick against the pricks, but nestles low under God’s hand and rejoices and obeys and trusts and doubts not while God educates.
Flowers need night’s cool darkness, The moonlight and the dew;
So Christ from one who loved it, His shining oft withdrew.
And then for cause of absence My troubled soul I scanned,
But glory shadeless shineth In Emmanuel’s land.
The secret of peace and victory under all these circumstances is ‘a little more faith in Jesus.’
In God’s school we learn through the heart rather than through the head, and by faith rather than logic. ‘Lord, I believe! ‘ Amen!