Pressed out of measure, and pressed to all length;
Pressed so intensely it seems beyond strength;
Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul;
Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll;
Pressure by foes, and pressure by friends;
Pressure on pressure till life nearly ends.
Pressed into knowing no helper but God;
Pressed into loving the staff and the rod;
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;
Pressed into faith for impossible things;
Pressed into living a life in the Lord;
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured.
The Purpose of Trials
Trials teach us submission to the Lord and deliver us from our own ways. They are God’s way of developing patience in us. About the purpose of trials in our lives, James wrote: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).
If everything went just the way we wanted, we would have nothing to be patient about. Patience requires setting aside our own will. Therefore trials show just how much we are willing to give up our own will to accept God’s will for us.
What God Allows
We must never forget that, whatever our circumstances, God has allowed them for our good. God’s choice for us sometimes seems very hard to bear. But this is because we are not fully surrendered to Him or because we lack confidence in His love and wisdom. God is either choosing the very best for us in what He allows in our lives, or else He deliberately chooses for us what He knows is not in our best interest. Would we dare charge God with the latter? Never!
In His providential dealings with us He either orders or allows all that comes into our lives. He has the almighty power to prevent anything from happening, so if it happens, He has allowed it. Therefore, complaining is the same as saying that we know what is best for us better than God does, or else that God does not care enough to give us what is best. One is pure pride, the other is distrust of His motives.
Who’s in Charge?
We sometimes think, “Doesn’t the devil also have a hand in what happens to us?” That is very true, as we see in Job’s case. But we also see how the devil could not go beyond what God allowed (Job 1:12; Job 2:6); and what He allowed He used for even richer blessing in Job’s life than before.
The devil is powerless to do anything without God allowing it. He is only a creature, as are all his hosts of demons. God is above them, no matter how mighty they may be. So even if we see the devil’s hand in what happens, we must not forget to see God’s hand above the devil’s. God only allows him to go as far as it suits His sovereign purposes, to turn it into blessing for His people.
The Long View
“All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28), and that includes even what the devil is allowed to do. Do not forget that God is working with a view to our eternal good and not simply with regard to this present time.
We so often look at things from a “here and now” perspective while God works with eternal results in view. God may choose a hard road for us, not because He delights in our suffering hardship along the way, but because of the eternal blessing it will bring us.
“Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress” (Ps. 4:1). Distress is not sent from God for the sake of suffering but for the sake of enlargement. In times of distress, God sympathizes with His own. Paul referred to Him as “the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation” (2 Cor. 1:3-4). And Paul’s troubles were not light, for he says, “We were burdened beyond measure — so that we despaired even of life” (2 Cor. 4:8). However, with eternity in view, he refers to them as light afflictions “working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17).
Five Necessary Things
Five things are necessary to have peace and joy in time of trial:
1. Keep your mind on the Lord: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isa. 26:3).
2. Keep in touch with God by prayer: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7).
3. Meditate upon the Word: “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).
4. Yield your will to God: “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:11).
5. Know that the Lord will sustain you: Last, but not least, let us not forget that even though our trials or circumstances may continue for a long time, the Lord says, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:9). He will sustain the soul that submits to Him and leaves all in His hands.
A Cause for Rejoicing
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love” (1 Peter 1:6-8)
“See how we call those who thus endured happy! You have heard
how patiently Job endured and have seen how the Lord finally
blessed him, because the Lord is tenderhearted and merciful.”
(James 5:11, Wms.)
“Our Father can advance His children into conformity to the image
of His Son, more by suffering in one day, than in many years of
ease from trial.”
(None But the Hungry Heart #3-22)
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift
you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not
fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your
brothers.” Luke 22:31-32
“Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God
commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto
a faithful Creator.” 1Peter 4:19
“All discipline [child training] for the moment seems not to be joyful,
but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards
it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” Hebrews 12:11
“And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the
man who hears the Word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and
brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through
Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37
“The time of testing that marks and mightily enriches a soul’s spiritual
career is no ordinary one, but a period when all hell seems let loose, a
period when we realize our souls are brought into a net, when we know
that God is permitting us to be in the devil’s hand. But it is a period
which always ends in certain triumph for those who have committed
the keeping of their souls to Him, a period of marvelous “nevertheless
afterward” of abundant usefulness, the sixty-fold that surely follows.”
—Aphra White (Streams in the Desert, February 3)
Read Job 3; Jeremiah 20:14-18; Matthew 11:25-30
The Spirit of God in the above scriptures has furnished us with a very striking and edifying contrast. Job opened his mouth and cursed his day. He sighed for rest, but sought it amid the shades of death and in the darkness of the tomb. Dismal rest!
In the prophet Jeremiah we see the same thing. Both these beloved and honored saints of God, when overwhelmed by outward pressure, lost for a moment that well-balanced condition of soul which genuine faith ever imparts.
Now the blessed Master stands before us in Matt. 11 in glorious contrast. That chapter records a number of circumstances which seem entirely against Him. Herod’s prison would seem to have shaken the Baptist’s confidence. The men of that generation had refused the double testimony of righteousness and grace in the ministry of John, and of Christ Himself. Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum had remained impenitent in view of His “mighty works.” What then? Did the Master take up the language of His servants Job and Jeremiah? By no means. His perfect will was perfectly blended with that of His Father; and hence, “At that time [when all seemed against Him] Jesus answered and said, I thank Thee, O Father,… for so it seemed good in Thy sight.” Here it was that Jesus found His rest. And here it is that He invites all who “labor and are heavy laden,” to “find rest.”
He does not point us to the grave as our resting place; but He graciously stoops down and invites us to share His yoke with Him -to drink into His “meek and lowly” spirit—to bear about a mortified will—to meet the darkest dispensations, and the most trying circumstances, with a “thank God,” and an “even so.” This is divine “rest.” It is rest in life, and not in death—rest in Christ, and not in the grave.
Reader, do you ever find yourself disposed to wish for the grave as a relief from pressure? If so, look at the above scriptures. Think of them, pray over them, and seek to find your rest where Jesus found His, in having no will of your own.
We often think that a change of circumstances would make us happy. We imagine if this trial were removed and that deficiency made up, we would be all right. Let us remember, when tempted to think thus, that what we want is not a change of circumstances, but victory over self. May the Lord ever give us this victory, and then we shall enjoy peace.
(From Christian Truth Volume 3)
There are various ways in which as saints we are tried, but through all circumstances our Father is threading our way, occupying Himself with us personally, our particular characters, etc., in order to develop and mature us spiritually. What we want is to realize that our Father loves us so much, we are of such value to Him as that He should take such pains to make us “partakers of His holiness….” We are apt not to believe the activity of his love. Some trouble comes upon us; our Father has been watching us individually for weeks, months, and years, watching us to bring this trouble which He sees is needed for our spiritual growth.
Everything that makes the condition of the heart better is good, and all is grounded on grace. Grace puts us in the Father’s presence, makes us partakers of His holiness; then He says, “looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace,” i.e., do not lose this entire confidence in My love. This is the present practical enjoyment of what the Father is for you. If you lose that, you fail. There is nothing that links up the heart with God but grace. “Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under law, but under grace.”
Walk in the sanctuary of the Father’s presence. You are not come to the terrible mountain Sinai; but having come to the perfect grace of the Father in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, take care how you walk. Grace must be the character of our walk. This is true blessedness. There is no hindrance of evil by terror. The effect of the fire from Sinai was that they “entreated the word should not be spoken to them anymore.” Was that getting on with God? But we come to a different thing. We may speak of the law, but that is not where we are. Now we must be living witnesses of what we are, and where we are. We are come unto Mount Zion, which represents grace.
We are come “to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant.” We are not come to the new covenant, but to Jesus the Mediator of it. I am in living union with Him who is the Mediator; that is a higher thing than if merely come to the covenant. He will make this new covenant with Israel on earth.
Having come to the Mediator, I am come to the prospect of all the blessedness for earth. It is sweet to know earth will have it, but ours is the far better part. We are to be witnesses of whence we are. We come from heaven. In spirit it is true now. What is true in spirit is more real and palpable than what we see. What is passing in our hearts and minds is more what we are really, than what our bodies are occupied in. The Lord Jesus was a carpenter (as really as any other carpenter), but that was not what He was. So with us, we are brought into all these things with our Father.
Then the thing is to be always a witness of the place to which He has called us in grace. We are come; then we have the Father dealing with us in respect of this place to which He has brought us. Do you say, This trial or that is enough to discourage me? But no; it is the Father who is bringing you into it, and He is with you in the place, dealing with you in grace and love, according to the place He has brought you into. In the midst of the company of heaven, each one is singled out—that is, ourselves. Surely this is enough to make us humble and restful.
1)”And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.” Deut. 8:2
2)” Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.” Psalm 26:2
3)”And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.” John 6:6
4)”For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.” Ps. 66: 10
5)”And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blame-less.” 1 Tim. 3:10
6)”That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ..” 1 Peter 1:7