God’s Wisdom in Suffering| J. I. Packer

The following quotations comes from Packer’s classic book, Knowing God, which you should make plans to read immediately, if you haven’t already done so.

But how are we to meet these baffling and trying situations, if we cannot for the moment see God’s purpose in them? First, by taking them as from God, and asking ourselves what reactions to them, and in them, the gospel of God requires of us; second, by seeking God’s face specifically about them.

If we do these two things, we shall never find ourselves wholly in the dark as to God’s purpose in our troubles. We shall always be able to see at least as much purpose in them as Paul was enabled to see in his thorn in the flesh (whatever it was). It came to him, he tells us, as a “messenger of Satan,” tempting him to hard thoughts of God. He resisted this temptation and sought Christ’s face three times, asking that it might be removed. The only answer he had was this, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” On reflection, he perceived a reason why he should have been thus afflicted: it was to keep him humble, “to keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations.” This thought, and Christ’s word, were enough for him. He looked no further. Here is his final attitude: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor 12:7-9).

This attitude of Paul is a model for us. Whatever further purpose a Christian’s troubles may or may not have in equipping him for future service, they will always have at least that purpose which Paul’s thorn in the flesh had: They will have been sent us to make and keep us humble, and to give us a new opportunity of showing forth the power of Christ in our mortal lives. And do we ever need to know any more about them than that? Is not this enough in itself to convince us of the wisdom of God in them? Once Paul saw that his trouble was sent him to enable him to glorify Christ, he accepted it as wisely appointed and even rejoiced in it. God give us grace, in all our own troubles, to go and do likewise.

p. 98

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