Enlargement Through Distress
Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress” (Psalms 4:1.) Thus testified David after he had passed through a great trial and conflict. That trials may become a great source and avenue of blessing, has become a fact well known and understood by such as have gone on to know the Lord. The philosophy of this is very simple; it is while in adversity and perplexity that we seek God, and pray the most, and lean the hardest upon Him. It was said of ancient Israel, “Jeshurum waxed fat, and kicked.” (Deut. 32:l5). “But when he slew them then they sought him, and they returned and inquired early after God.” (Ps. 78:34.)
The facts are, that but very few, if any, can stand continued success and prosperity. It is when full, and with everything coming our way, that we are in greatest danger of becoming self-sufficient, haughty and arrogant; we are apt to conclude, because of our prosperity, that we are favorites with the Lord, and forget our own weakness and utter dependence upon God; under these conditions it is very easy to become negligent and careless, and cease to watch and pray as we should. The history of the church in all ages has been that just in proportion as she prospered and became rich and popular, in that proportion her spiritual declension and worldliness and formality increased. On the other hand, when she was despised and persecuted, and thus driven to her knees in utter self-abnegation, then did she have power to prevail with God and with men in the real salvation of the multitudes. This same principle obtains in the individual experience.
It is well for us to understand the divine program. “Many shall be purified and made white, and tried.” (Dan. 12:10.) Hence Peter has said, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.” “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearance of Jesus Christ.” We need to learn that the spirit of heaviness because of manifold temptations, is perfectly compatible with the spirit of holiness; and then we need to remember that adversity is not necessarily an indication of divine displeasure; and then we also need to learn how to make use of contrary winds. A good sailor will utilize a head-wind by so shifting his sails as to carry him forward to his desired haven
Many souls, having been purified and made white, but being ignorant of the divine program, and supposing that the experience of sanctification would henceforth exempt them from trial, have become confused and bewildered when the “fiery trial” came upon them, and have cast away their confidence and gone down in despair. Had they remembered that immediately after Jesus received the Holy Ghost, he went into a forty-day hand-to-hand conflict and battle with Satan; and that this was according to the divine program for His sanctified children, and was the divine method of weaning them from human dependencies, and developing in them the iron graces of patience, and courage, and fidelity; they too might have maintained their integrity and come out more than conquerors; not only gaining the victory, but gathering some spoils.
There is an old adage which says, “What cannot be cured must be endured,” but the man who has learned the secret of victory, will not simply endure it, but glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience,” etc. It is one thing for us to trust God, and another thing for us to get where God can trust us. God desires a tried people. Even as men do not give positions of great responsibility and importance to such as are inexperienced and untried, so they who are to be made the custodians of heaven’s treasure, and are to become the representatives and ambassadors from the Court of Heaven, must first be tested and tried. The time when God proves us is the time for us to prove Him; the trial should be regarded as the challenge to our faith for greater victories.
The reward of faithfulness in the time of trial is promotion, with increased confidence and power. The trial itself is the pledge of greater grace. Great trials make way for great grace. There can be no victory without a conflict. The fiercer the battle, the greater the victory. So that in this life, as in the life to come, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.” Hence our greatest trials become our greatest blessings – blessings in disguise. After Job had passed through his trial, “the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10.)