Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:12
The biblical heroes of faith call to us from the heights they have won, encouraging us that what man once did, man can do again. They remind us not only of the necessity of faith but also for the patience required for faith’s work to be perfected. May we fear attempting to remove ourselves from the hands of our heavenly Guide, or missing even one lesson of His living discipline due to our discouragement or doubt.
An old village blacksmith once said, “There is only one thing I fear: being thrown onto the scrap heap. You see, in order to strengthen a piece of steel, I must first temper it. I heat it, hammer it, and then quickly plunge it into a bucket of cold water. Very soon I know whether it will accept the tempering process or simply fall to pieces. If, after one or two tests, I see it will not allow itself to be tempered, I throw it onto the scrap heap, only to later sell it to the junkman for a few cents per pound.
“I realize the Lord tests me in the same way: through fire, water, and heavy blows of His hammer. If I am unwilling to withstand the test, or prove to be unfit for His tempering process, I am afraid He may throw me onto the scrap heap.”
When the fire in your life is the hottest, stand still, for “later on… it produces a harvest” (Heb. 12:11) of blessings. Then we will be able to say with Job, “When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). selected
Sainthood finds its source in suffering. Remember, it requires eleven tons of pressure on a piano’s strings for it to be tuned. And God will tune you to perfect harmony with heaven’s theme if you will withstand the strain.
Things that hurt and things that mar Shape the man for perfect praise; Shock and strain and ruin are Friendlier than smiling days.
Prayer is no easy pastime. As I grow old I find that I am more conscious than ever of my need to pray, but it seems at the same time to become more of a struggle. It is harder to concentrate, for one thing. I was greatly helped by some private notes Amy Carmichael wrote to her “Family” (hundreds of children and their helpers, both Indian and European) in Dohnavur, South India, to help them prepare for a special day of prayer.
She quoted Paul’s letter to the Colossians (2:1, KJV): “I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you.” He is referring at least in part to the conflict of prayer. The same verse is translated “how greatly I strive” in the Revised Version; “how deep is my anxiety” in J.B. Phillips; and, in the Jerusalem Bible, “Yes, I want you to know that I do have to struggle hard for you… to bind you together in love and to stir your minds, so that your understanding may come to full development, until you really know God’s secret in which all the jewels of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.”
Here are Amy’s notes:
WITH WHAT DID I STRUGGLE?
1. With all that says to me, what is the use of your praying? So many others, who know more of prayer than you do, are praying. What difference does it make whether you pray or not? Are you sure that your Lord is listening? Of course He is listening to the other prayers but yours are of such small account, are you really sure He is “bending His ear” to you?
2. With all that suggests that we are asked to give too much time to prayer. There is so much to do. Why set aside so much time just to pray?
3. With all that discourages me personally–perhaps the remembrance of past sin, perhaps spiritual or physical tiredness; with anything and everything that keeps me back from what occupied St. Paul so often–vital prayer.
WHAT WILL HELP ME MOST IN THIS WRESTLE?
1. The certain knowledge that our insignificance does not matter at all, for we do not come to the Father in our own name but in the Name of His beloved Son. His ear is always open to that Name. Of this we can be certain.
2. The certain knowledge that this is Satan’s lie; he is much more afraid of our prayer than our work. (This is proved by the immense difficulties we always find when we set ourselves to pray. They are much greater than those we meet when we set ourselves to work.)
3. Isaiah 44:22 and kindred words, with 1 John 1:9, meet all distress about sin. Isaiah 40:29-31 with 2 Corinthians 12:9,10 meets everything that spiritual or physical weariness can do to hinder. Psalm 27:8 with Isaiah 45:19 meets all other difficulties. And the moment we say to our God, “Thy face, Lord, will I seek,” His mighty energies come to the rescue. (See Colossians 1:2,9.) Greater, far greater, is He that is in us than he that is against us. Count on the greatness of God. But are we to go on wrestling to the end?
No, there is a point to which we come, when, utterly trusting the promise of our Father, we rest our hearts upon Him. It is then we are given what St. Paul calls access with confidence (Ephesians 3:12). But don’t forget that this access is by faith, not by feeling, faith in Him our living Lord; He who says “Come unto Me” does not push us away when we come. As we go on, led by the Holy Spirit who so kindly helps our infirmities, we find ourselves in 1 John 5:14,15 and lastly in Philippians 4:6, . It is good to remember that immediate answer to prayer is not always something seen, but it is always inward peace.
And if the day ends otherwise and we are discouraged? Then tell Him so, “nothing ashamed of tears upon His feet” [here she is quoting from F.W.H. Meyers’s poem “St. Paul”]. Lord, Thou knowest all things. Thou knowest that I love Thee. “Yes, my child, I know.” But don’t settle down into an “it will never be different” attitude. It will be different if only in earnest we follow on to know the Lord.
It’s Holy Week, a time to prepare our hearts and contemplate the guts, grace and glory of Jesus’ finished work on the cross.
Let us meditate a moment on the passion of Christ….true contemplation is that in which the heart is crushed and the conscience smitten….You must be overwhelmed by the frightful wrath of God who so hated sin that he spared not his only begotten Son. What can the sinner expect if the beloved Son was so afflicted? It must be an inexpressible and unendurable yearning that causes God’s Son himself so to suffer. Ponder this and you will tremble, and the more you ponder, the deeper you will tremble.
The whole value of the meditation of the suffering of Christ lies in this, that man should come to the knowledge of himself and sink and tremble. If you are so hardened that you do not tremble, then you have reason to tremble. Pray to God that he may soften your heart and make fruitful your mediation upon the suffering of Christ, for we ourselves are incapable of proper reflection unless God instill it.
The greater and the more wonderful is the excellence of his love by contrast with the lowliness of his form, the hate and pain of passion. Herein we come to know both God and ourselves. His beauty is his own, and through it we learn to know him. His uncomeliness and passion are ours, and in them we know ourselves, for what he suffered in the flesh, we must suffer in the spirit. He has in truth borne our stripes. Here, then, in an unspeakably clear mirror you see yourself. You must know that through your sins you are as uncomely and mangled as you see him here.
We ought to suffer a thousand and again a thousand times more than Christ because he is God and we are dust and ashes, yet it is the reverse. He who had a thousand and again a thousand times less need, has taken upon himself a thousand and again a thousand times more than we.
No understanding can fathom nor tongue can express, no writing can record, but only the inward dealing can grasp what is involved in the suffering of Christ.
George MacDonald wrote A Book of Strife in the Form of The Diary of an Old Soul (Amazon Affiliate link), which is a book of poems for every day of the year. I actually heard about it in a letter C. S. Lewis wrote to a friend in his pre-Christian days. I’m determined to read more George MacDonald (thankfully a lot of his work is available for free on Kindle) since both C. S. Lewis and Elisabeth Elliot list him as an influence!
This is the entry for March 25:
Be by me, Lord, this day. Thou know’st I mean–
Lord, make me mind Thee. I herewith forestall
My own forgetfulness, when I stoop to glean
The corn of earth–which yet Thy hand lets fall.
Be for me then against myself. O lean
Over me then when I invert my cup;
Take me, if by the hair, and lift me up.
His thoughts said, The time of preparation for service is longer than I had imagined it would be, and this kind of preparation is difficult to understand.
His Father said, “Think of the quarry whence came the stone for My house in Jerusalem.”
His thoughts said, I wonder why these special tools are used?
His Father said, “The house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither; so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.
If though knewest the disappointment it is to the builders when the stone cannot be used for the house, because it was not made ready before it was brought thither; if thou knewest My purpose for thee, thou wouldst welcome any tool if only it prepared thee quietly and perfectly to fit into thy place in the house.”