Proverbs 3:11, 12
My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:
Well does this lesson contrast with the preceding picture of prosperity and opulence.
I. THE RELIGIOUS VIEW OF SUFFERING.
1. It is not a dark doom, a cruel fate, a Blind necessity of things. Such were the ideas of the heathen.
2. Its cause may be known. This is ever a great solace - to be persuaded that our troubles lie in the reason of things, that nothing is chance or caprice.
3. That cause is in the Divine mind and will. The power of God is manifested in our suffering; we are but as the clay on the potter's wheel. Still more the love of God is manifested in our suffering. There is always some mitigation accompanying it. "It might have been worse" may be said of every pain. It serves as the foil to set off some greater good. "The ring may be lost, but the finger remains," as the Spanish proverb says.
4. The object or final cause of suffering. Purification from inward evil; correction of faults. The mind grows of itself; the schoolmaster can do little more than point out and correct faults. So with life's education from the religious point of view. And the most fertile minds need most; the discipline of suffering. The pruning knife is not applied to the puny plant; languid minds are the least touched by affliction. In these adjustments, love is still revealed.
5. Suffering must be viewed under the analogy of the parental and filial relation. Let these words once become clear, Father, son, in their application to God's relation to us, and ours to him, and the theory of suffering is mastered (comp. Deuteronomy 8:5; Psalm 118:18; Lamentations 3:31-33).
II. THE RELIGIOUS TEMPER UNDER SUFFERING.
1. Humility. No indignant questioning, scornful recalcitration, proud efforts of stoical fortitude. These will but defeat or delay the end. The medicine benefits not if the patient sets his mind against it as unneeded.
2. Patient endurance. Perseverance in a passive, receptive, attitude is far more difficult than perseverance in activity. We haste to snatch at good. But God is never in haste. His processes are slow. And to receive their benefit we must learn the wisdom of the word "wait." While we are thus waiting, things are not at a standstill; God is working, producing a spiritual shape out of the passive material.
"Maker, remake, complete,
I trust what thou shalt do!" (R. Browning's noble poem, 'Rabbi Ben Ezra.') J.
Parallel VersesKJV: My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: