"...man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7).
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I come to this book as one who has suffered little in this life. Sure, there have been some hard times, but they have been minimal. When I read the Bible and church history and see/hear the experiences of other believers around me, there is a little twinge of fear in my soul. Will I be able to honor God amidst deep suffering in this life when my time comes?
I come to this study with a desire to grow. I don't want to fear suffering; I want to trust in God's sovereignty and rest in His goodness regardless of my circumstances. He will give me the grace that I need, moment by moment. I pray that the Lord uses this study to deepen our faith in Him who walks with us through the valleys of this life for our good and His glory!
I found Horton's use of Luther thought-provoking:
"...being a theologian of the cross--which is the general vocation of every Christian--requires three things: oratio (prayer), meditatio (study), and tentatio (trials)" (pg 17).
I had considered that prayer and study were staples in the Christian life. However, as Stephen Altrogee wrote in The Greener Grass Conspiracy, I often "treat God like some sort of divine dentist" (pg. 31), especially when it comes to trials. Although I know Second Corinthians 12:9, I have not yet gotten to the place where I boast gladly in my weakensses. However, there was a smaller glimmer of longing upon reading this:
"without the trials, faith is not really roused to grab hold of the God of promise" (pg. 17).
IF trials are the only thing that will rouse me "to grab hold of the God or promise", then I pray that God brings trials. Thomas Watson writes:
"The wise God hath ordered our condition; if he sees it better for us to abound, we shall abound; if he sees it better for us to want, we shall want; be content at God's disposal...one condition of life will not fit every man, no more than one suit of apparel will fit every body; prosperity is not fit for all, nor yet adversity...The wise God sees that condition to be bad for one, which is good for another; hence it is he placeth men in different orbs and spheres; some higher, some lower. One man desires health, God sees sickness better for him; God will work health out of sickness, by bringing the body of death, into a consumption. Another man desires liberty, God sees restraint better for him; he will work his liberty by restraint; when his feet are bound, his heart shall be most enlarged" (pg 21).
Oh that I would trust our wise, Heavenly Father knowing that He is always good to me!
"Understanding who God is, who we are, and God's ways in creation, providence, and redemption--at least as much as Scripture reveals to us...is the most serious business...it's a matter of life and death...It's about living, and dying, well" (pg. 19).
"And so we need to learn from God's Word how to meet trials, apart from which more tough times will only tend to reinforce what we already believe, whether it's good or bad theology" (pg 21).
May we all grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! To Him be the glory both now and forevermore!!