By Shawna Barnard
Consider the work of God:
for who can make that straight,
which he hath made crooked?
~ Ecclesiastes 7:13
In the opening paragraph of of his book, Crook in the Lot: A Puritan understanding of that thorn in your side, Thomas Boston writes:
A just view of afflicting incidents is altogether necessary to a Christian deportment under them; and that view is to be obtained only by faith, not by sense; for it is the light of the word alone that represents them justly, discovering in them the work of God, and, consequently, designs becoming the divine perfections.
When these are perceived by the eye of faith, and duly considered, we have a just view of afflicting incidents, fitted to quell the turbulent motions of corrupt affections under dismal outward appearances. (19-20)
Here’s my attempt to translate that beautiful Puritan prose into three bite-size nuggets:
- I must have a correct (holy, righteous, true, proper) understanding of suffering (circumstances, trials, hardships, unfavorable events) in order to live out my calling as a Christian during suffering.
- A correct understanding of suffering can only come from faith as revealed by the Word of God because it alone rightly portrays God’s role in and purposes for suffering, which is nothing short of divine perfection.
- A right perspective of suffering is necessarily suited for redeeming and quieting the soul during suffering.
What can I take away from this?
As a sufferer, I must remember to consider God’s role in and purposes for suffering.
As a counselor, I must remember to teach fellow sufferers to consider God’s role in and purposes for suffering.
Doing anything less would keep us from God who alone is our refuge (Ps 46).
Indeed, let us always consider God, for who can make that straight, which God has made crooked?