There are very few people who go through life without experiencing disappointments, tests and trials. How often have we heard the question, ‘Why do bad things happen to good people?’
Some of the greatest saints of old, gifted to express Holy Scripture in verse and song, suffered from a variety of serious illnesses. For example, Fanny Crosby who wrote, amongst others, ‘All the Way My Saviour Leads Me’ had sight impairment, as had John Milton and George Matheson who wrote that lovely hymn ‘O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go’. Others such as Annie Johnson Flint, Charlotte Elliot and Frances Ridley Havergal suffered greatly from ill health and there are more. Yet despite their illness they penned some of the most beautiful hymns we know so well.
Perhaps they held on to promises such as in Isaiah 43 verses 1-3: ‘But now thus says the Lord… Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God….’
If we say we are on first name terms with someone, it usually indicates that this is someone we know personally and trust.
Did you notice that God says exactly this to everyone who puts their trust in Him (have you?) - ‘I have called you by name, you are mine.’ What a great promise! And it is because of this wonderful relationship he promises that when and wherever adversity comes, He will be with us. Many have proven this to be true. As they experienced the floods and fire of adversity they leaned hard on the Lord their God and were given the grace to endure. Jesus perhaps takes these promises a little further when he said, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’ (Matthew 11: 28).
Nowhere in Holy Scripture are we promised a trouble free life, but what we are promised is the grace of God to help us through whatever we may experience. Annie Johnson Flint wrote this:
‘He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater, He sendeth more strength as our labours increase; To added afflictions He addeth His mercy, To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance, When our strength has failed ere the day is half done, When we reach the end of our hoarded resources, Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men; For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.’
May you prove this to be true in your life.
By Rev Campbell Dixon MBE