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"The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes." 1 Pet. 1:7
He has the crucible for gold, and the crucible for earth—the fire of love, and the fire of wrath; and in nothing will He more distinguish His own people from the ungodly,—the gold from the "reprobate silver,"—than in the mode by which both are thus dealt with. He tries the righteous because they are righteous; He chastens His sons, because they are sons; He reproves, rebukes, afflicts them, because He loves them, having "chosen them in the furnace of affliction." What touching words of Christ are these—who can read them without emotion?—"As many as I love I rebuke and chasten." Again, "Whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives." Thus, it is His own people, His righteous, His holy ones, on whom His afflictive hand is often the most severely and heavily laid. "The Lord tries the RIGHTEOUS."
will you undertake this service? are you able to drink this cup, or bear this cross for me?" is the significant language of many a trial with which the Lord tries the righteous. Happy if your love sustains the test of its sincerity, and your heart replies, "Yes, Lord; Your love inspiring my love, Your grace helping my infirmity, Your strength perfected in my weakness, I can—I will—I DO."
And yet, who, in whatever path he walks, finds not, in some circumstances of his daily history, the "need of patience?" The trying circumstances of life—the chafings of the hourly cross—the constant contact with dissimilar tastes, uncongenial minds, unsympathizing hearts—the delays in answer to prayer—the ceaseless pain—the restless head—the nervous temperament, to which the buzzing of a fly is agony—above all, the hidings of God, the tarrying of Jesus, the suspension of the Spirit's consolation—all, all demand the exercise of that patience with which the believer possesses his soul. This is the grace the Lord tries! Ah! how little know we of the impatience of our spirit—the petulance and unsubmissiveness which will brook no delay, which frets against the Lord, and rebels against His dealings—until the Lord tries us. But He tries our patience only to increase it.
Humbled under the conviction how rebellious and repining is our spirit, we are led to cry mightily to God to give to us this grace, meekly to endure, silently to suffer, and cheerfully to do His will. "The Lord direct your hearts into the patience of Christ." "You have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise." We are exhorted to "let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." "Here is the patience of the saints."
We should, alas! be content to travel many a stage without Him. No childlike sense of dependence—no holy communes—no seeking His will—no trying of His love, faithfulness, and wisdom. How seldom would the Lord see our uplifted face, or our outstretched hands, or hear the plaint accents of our voice, did He permit this grace to lie sluggish and stagnant in the soul. But it is "living water" which Christ has deposited within the regenerate, and trial is needed to keep it pure, sparkling, and ascending. Be you sure of this, then, beloved, that the Lord thus exercises your faith only to make you a richer possessor of this most enriching of the graces. It is a kind process of Jesus by which He seeks your greatest good.
The more your faith is tried, the more it deals with God, and travels to Christ; and it is impossible for you to spend one minute with God, or to catch one glimpse of Christ, and not be sensibly and immeasurably the gainer. The more your faith leads you to the throne of grace, the more precious will prayer become. The more your faith deals with the atonement of Christ, the more will the glory of His work unfold to your mind. The more your faith takes hold of the Divine promises, the more will it be confirmed in the truth of God's word. Thus faith—so supernatural and wondrous a grace is it—transmutes everything it touches into most precious gold, and so confers upon its tried but happy possessor "greater riches than the treasures of Egypt."
Oh, deal with Christ personally, even as He deals personally with you. His invitation is, "Come unto ME,"—and He would have you come,—and you cannot honor Him more—recognizing His personality, and His personal relation to yourself, and disclosing your personal circumstances, making confession of personal sin, presenting personal wants, and unveiling personal infirmities, backslidings, and sorrows.