THE HARD SCHOOL OF PAINFUL EXPERIENCE

Painful experience

THE HARD SCHOOL OF PAINFUL EXPERIENCE

J.C. Philpot

In times of trial and darkness, the saints and servants
of God are instructed. They see and feel what the flesh
really is, how alienated from the life of God—they learn
in whom all their strength and sufficiency lie—they are
taught that in them, that is, in their flesh, dwells no
good thing—that no exertions of their own can maintain
in strength and vigor the life of God—and that all they
are and have, all they believe, know, feel, and enjoy,
with all their ability, usefulness, gifts, and grace—flow
from the pure, sovereign grace—the rich, free, undeserved,
yet unceasing goodness and mercy of God.

They learn in this hard school of painful experience
their emptiness and nothingness—and that without Christ
indeed they can do nothing. They thus become clothed
with humility, that lovely, becoming garb—cease from
their own strength and wisdom—and learn experimentally
that Christ is, and ever must be, all in all to them, and
all in all in them.

Many difficulties, obstacles, and hindrances

“Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him!” Hosea 6:3

The expression, “press on,” implies that there are many
difficulties, obstacles, and hindrances in a man’s way,
which keep him back from “knowing the Lord.” Now the
work of the Spirit in his soul is to carry him on in spite
of all these obstacles—to lead him forward—to keep
alive in him the fear of God—to strengthen him in his
inner man—to drop in those hopes—to communicate
that inward grace—so that he is compelled to press on.

Sometimes he seems driven,
sometimes drawn,
sometimes led, and
sometimes carried,
but in one way or another the Spirit of God so
works upon him that, though he scarcely knows
how—he still “presses on.”

His very burdens make him groan for deliverance—his
very temptations cause him to cry for help—the very
difficulty and ruggedness of the road make him want
to be carried every step—the very intricacy of the path
compels him to cry out for a guide—so that the Spirit
working in the midst of, and under, and through every
difficulty and discouragement, still bears him through,
and carries him on—and thus brings him through every
trial and trouble and temptation and obstacle, until He
sets him in glory.

It is astonishing to me how our souls are kept alive.
The Christian is a marvel to himself. Carried on, and
yet so secretly—worked upon, and yet so mysteriously;
and yet led on, guided, and supported through so many
difficulties and obstacles—that he is a miracle of mercy
as he is carried on amid all . . .
difficulties,
obstacles,
trials, and temptations.

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