Thomas Manton writes...
A Christian is a bird that can sing in the winter as well as in spring; he can live in the fire like Moses' bush - burn and not be consumed, even leap in the fire! His joy is from the happy consequences of his sufferings.
...God has consolations for martyrs, and for His children under trials.
Sometimes it is a greater presence of the Word. The sun shines many times when it rains. And they have sweet glimpses of God's favor when their outward condition is most gloomy and sad.
...Martyrs and those in a trial rejoice because they pass into glory more swiftly! The enemies do them a favor by removing them from this troublesome world. This made the early Christians rejoice more when they were condemned than when they were absolved.
...But some will say, "My sufferings are not like martyrdom; they do not come from the hand of men, but from providence, and result from my own sins."
...But remember the apostle's word is "trials of many kinds" and sickness, death of friends [and loved ones], and such things that come from providence are also trials to God's children. These afflictions require not only mourning and humbling, but a holy COURAGE & CONFIDENCE!
...walk so that the world may know you can live above every condition, and that all evils are much beneath your hopes!
...Afflictions do not make the people of God miserable. There is a great deal of difference between a Christian and a man of the world. The latter's best state is vanity [see Psalm 39:5]; and a Christian's worst state is happiness.
..."Things" may disappear at a change of providence, just as Job lost everything in an instant. But those who say, "Blessed [happy] is the man whose God is the Lord" - that is, the one who enjoys God as their happiness - when they lose everything, and yet, they can still be happy because they have not lost God.
Our afflictions reveal our state of mind; when we see outward crosses as the greatest evil, God is not our main happiness.
- Our comfort lies to a great extent in the
Choice of our main happiness! -
"Blessed is the man you discipline, O LORD, the man you teach from your word."
...Corrections aim at the mortifying of sin, and so are more humbling; but trials aim at the discovery of grace, and so are more comfortable!
"Discipline...produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11
Trials do not earn us heaven, but they always precede it. Before we are brought to glory, God will first wean us from sin and the world.
"We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverence." Romans 5:3
...This scripture holds good in all kinds of tribulations or suffering; they bring sweet discoveries of God, and so are matters for GREAT JOY!
...Occasions to discover more of God. They give us a greater sense and feeling of the power of grace, and so we may take pleasure in them.
Note: Thomas Manton (1620-1677) was a Puritan minister who was a clerk at the Westminster Assembly and was known as the "king of preachers." He continued to preach and write even when imprisoned for refusing to cooperate with the Church of England!