by John Armstrong
I’ve been sick this week and I hate being sick. It too readily exposes my idolatries. I get irritated because I don’t have time to be sick. There is too much that I have to accomplish. What I’m saying is, I think I’m more important than the work of God’s providence in my life. That my friends constitutes idolatry of self and is in fact, a manifestation of unbelief. There are things God is teaching me that I will not learn if I don’t have to stop and be still for my body to rest and recover. That is not what I want, but it is what I need, whether I like it or not. My illness is a passing bout of cold or flu. I know some of you, deal with illness that is far more extreme and life changing, if not also life threatening. Please understand that I’m not trying to equate a cold with cancer by any means. I do want us to think however in terms of God’s providence and our suffering. We do well to understand what the Westminster “Divines” meant when they wrote the Shorter Catechism, Q. 11. What are God’s works of providence? A. God’s works of providence are, his most holy, [Psalm 145:17] wise, [Psalm 104:24] and powerful [Hebrews 1:3] preserving [Nehemiah 9:6] and governing [Ephesians 1:19-22] all his creatures, and all their actions. [Psalm 36:6; Proverbs 16:33; Matthew 10:30] God is not the author of evil, but the suffering we experience is under His providential control. Why one individual suffers and another does not is a mystery that you and I will not be able to unravel. There are as many reasons as there are people who suffer. So, what are we supposed to do with this? I think it is important to look at Scripture for a moment. 2Cor. 4:16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison… God the Holy Spirit is busy, He is at work in the lives of believers, molding and shaping them. He breaks us where we need to be broken; He binds up our wounds and brings healing. He is focused on bearing good fruit for the kingdom through us. We must remember that we don’t always know what good fruit looks like, I like to think that fruit looks easy, but how can that be? The Spirit knows the fruit that He is bringing forth in us for His glory. In the moment, it may all seem miserable, put the promise of God is that in view of eternity, the suffering we do will see light and momentary. In fact, when we stand before the Lord without spot, wrinkle, or blemish we shall know the beauty of God’s providence in bringing us whole and happy into His eternal presence. Lord, help me to grasp more deeply Your providential work in my life, that I may not grumble and complain about light and momentary afflictions, but that I would see Your hand at work making me fit for heaven.