Excerpt from The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs
There must be a submission to God in every affliction, as to the time and continuance of the affliction. ‘Perhaps I could submit and be content’, says someone, ‘but this affliction has been on me a long time, three months, a year, many years, and I do not know how to yield and submit to it, my patience is worn out and broken.’ It may even be a spiritual affliction-you could submit to God, you say, in any outward affliction, but not in a soul-affliction.
Or if it were an affliction upon the soul, trouble upon the heart, if it were the withdrawing of God’s face-‘Yet if this had been but for a little time I could submit; but to seek God for so long and still he does not appear, Oh how shall I bear this?’ We must not be our own disposers for the time of deliverance any more than for the kind and way of deliverance.
I will give you a Scripture or two about this. That we are to submit to God for the time as well as the kind of affliction, see the latter end of the first chapter of Ezekiel: ‘When I saw it I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.’ The Prophet was cast down upon his face, but how long must he lie upon his face? ‘And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet and I will speak unto thee. And the spirit entered into me, when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet.’ Ezekiel was cast down upon his face, and there he must lie till God should bid him to stand up; yea, and not only so, but till God’s Spirit came into him and enabled him to stand up. So when God casts us down, we must be content to lie till God bids us stand up, and God’s Spirit enters into us to enable us to stand up. You know how Noah was put into the Ark – certainly he knew there was much affliction in the Ark, with all kinds of creatures shut up with him for twelve months together – it was a mighty thing, yet God having shut him up, even though the waters were assuaged, Noah was not to come out of the Ark till God bid him. So though we be shut up in great afflictions, and we may think of this and that and the other means to come out of that affliction, yet till God opens the door, we should be willing to stay; God has put us in, and God will bring us out. So we read in the Acts of Paul, when they had shut him in prison and would have sent for him out; ‘No’, says Paul, ‘they shut us in, let them come and fetch us out.’ So in a holy, gracious way should a soul say, ‘Well, this affliction that I am brought into, is by the hand of God, and I am content to be here till God brings me out himself.’ God requires it at our hands, that we should not be willing to come out till he comes and fetches us out.
This speaks to where I’ve been living for the last 2 years, and looks like it will be at least another 6 months. Thank you.
My family has been living what feels like affliction for nearly a decade, when Dh’s nice computer job (not great, we struggled) ended (they retired/downsized). We’ve been through so much disappointment and struggles. But God is faithful and has not forsaken us. Our latest blow was the surprise death of our well loved and very useful mother on Mother’s Day. I know God will continue to be there for us. I do not know what God is shaping us for … but we trust him to lead us through.