The furnace of affliction
My Dear Sister in Christ,
As it is the pleasure of your heavenly Father still to continue you in the furnace of affliction, do not think the time long; this momentary affliction is to prepare you for glory of an endless duration. Therefore, "let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing," in the exercise of your graces to the completion of your filial obedience, which will be to God's eternal praise and your eternal bliss. Suffering is the last work of a Christian. Our dear Lord, after a life of complete active obedience, was to drink the deep cup of His sufferings and to be obedient even unto death, and this was His direct way to His all-transcendent glory. And the members must be conformed to their Head in sufferings as well as glory, and in sufferings for the advance of their glory. And "if we suffer with Him (in a meek, patient, Christ-like spirit), we shall also be glorified together."
Remember your afflictions as dreams which pass away—that are here one moment and gone the next; and while they last, oh, the sweet, the strong supports of the everlasting arms! What can we not do and endure through Christ, who strengthens us! Your Beloved with you in everything, you need fear nothing. Glory in Him, and in His promised grace—"I will never leave you, nor forsake you"—for it is made in infinite faithfulness, and will be productive of earthly-supplies in your greatest necessities, of full joys, of eternal glories. Your afflictions are all measured out—in kind, degree, and duration—by infinite grace—and not one more shall you taste than what shall be for God's praise and your bliss! Therefore, give up yourself with the sweetest resignation to your all-wise, all-gracious Father's dealings—for all shall work to your salvation. Endure the cross—and look to the crown! The former is light and short, the latter an ineffable, eternal weight. Who would not die to see the Lord in His eternal glory? Who would not die to be free from sin's misery? Who would not die that mortality might put on immortality?
And oh, my dear sister, when death dissolves the union between soul and body, your union to Christ in both your constituent parts shall remain unbroken to a blessed eternity. Your body shall sweetly sleep in Jesus until He shall swallow up death in victory, and fashion it like unto His glorious body. And your spirit, as soon as ever separate, being made perfect, shall be admitted instantly into glory, into a perfect love-union and communion with your infinite Lover—to unknown felicity forever! "The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed you—and lead you unto living fountains of waters—and God shall wipe away all tears from your eyes." No more sorrow, pain, nor death then—these, as former things, will be all passed away, when once you are blessed with that fullness of joy, that perfect ease, that immortal life which awaits you in eternal glory. And then a reflection on all your grieving thorny way through the wilderness will make your pleasures rise in endless praise on the flowery plain of Immanuel's land—the Canaan of full and eternal bliss!
Meantime, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit." I commit you to His heart and arms!
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