‘Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.’ Isaiah 38:17
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Job 1:1–22
One of the chief differences observable in the experience of the Lord’s people is with regard to the season and means of their establishment in the faith. Some, after their first convictions, go mourning for years, tried by the Lord but fettered by Satan, and, though secretly supported, have little sensible comfort, but are perhaps still expecting to perish at last. At length the Lord’s time of deliverance comes, and afterwards they have generally a smoother part; and though they may continue to meet with many difficulties, they are seldom brought to question the foundation any more. Others pass through but little trouble at first; the Lord draws them by love, gives them liberty soon, and continues their peace till they are ready to think they shall see no changes. But by and by they are suddenly brought into darkness and depths, are at their wits’ end, and can hardly be persuaded they were ever right. They find things both within and without so different from what they were aware of. Job was an instance of this. We have the best evidence (the testimony of God himself) that he was a gracious man before his troubles—but how rudely was he shaken—not in outward things only, but his joy and peace in believing was taken away.
Then to his saints I often spoke; Of what his love had done;
But now my heart is almost broke, For all my joys are gone.
He had only the root of faith left—the exercise was gone, so that in the anguish of his spirit he cursed the day of his birth. But when the Lord returned, Job came out of the furnace purified like gold. He had seen more of his own heart, more of the power and majesty of God, than ever he had done before.
FOR MEDITATION: O Lord, what shall I say? I am the very wretch that was once an outcast in Africa; how dost thou comfort and honour me on every side, though I am still most ungrateful.
Diary, 19 July 1774
SERMON: ISAIAH 38:17 [1/2]