John Flavel… Yet Speaking

John Flavel… Yet Speaking

When Providence frowns upon you and blasts your outward comforts, then look to your heart; keep it with all diligence from repining against God or fainting under His hand. For troubles, though sanctified, are troubles still.
Jonah was a good man, and yet how fretful was his heart under affliction! Job was the mirror of patience, yet how was his heart discomposed by trouble! You will find it hard to get a composed spirit under great afflictions. Oh, the hurries and tumults which they occasion even in the best hearts. Let me show you, then, how a Christian under great afflictions may keep his heart from repining or desponding under the hand of God… .
One method for keeping the heart from sinking under afflictions is to call to mind that your own Father has the ordering of those afflictions. Not a creature moves hand or tongue against you but by His permission. Suppose the cup is bitter, yet it is the cup which your Father has given you; can you suspect poison in it? Foolish man, put home the case to your own heart. Can you give anything to your child that would ruin him? No! You would as soon hurt yourself as him. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,” how much more does God.
The very consideration of His nature as a God of love, pity, and tender mercies—or of His relation to you as a father, husband, and friend—would be security enough if He had not spoken a word to quiet you in this case. And yet you have His word, too, by the prophet Jeremiah: “I will do you no hurt.” You lie too near His heart for Him to hurt you; nothing grieves Him more than your groundless and unworthy suspicions of His designs. Would it not grieve a faithful, tender-hearted physician, when he had studied the case of his patient and prepared the most excellent medicines to save his life, to hear him cry out, “Oh, he has undone me; he has poisoned me!” because it pains him in the operation?
God respects you as much in a low condition as in a high condition; therefore it need not so much trouble you to be made low. No, He manifests more of His love, grace, and tenderness in the time of affliction than in the time of prosperity. As God did not at first choose you because you were high, He will not now forsake you because you are low.
Men may look shy upon you and alter their respects as your condition is altered. When Providence has blasted your estate, your summer-friends may grow strange, fearing you may be troublesome to them. But will God do so? No. No. “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” says He. If adversity and poverty could bar you from access to God, it would indeed be a deplorable condition; but you may go to Him as freely as ever.
Poor David, when stripped of all earthly comforts, could encourage himself in the Lord his God; why cannot you? Suppose your husband or son had lost everything at sea and came to you in rags; could you deny the relation or refuse to entertain him? If you would not, much less will God. Why then are you so troubled? Though your condition is changed, your Father’s love is not changed.
John Flavel [c1630–1691], sourced from, James Stuart Bell, From the Library of Charles Spurgeon: Selections From Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey, (Baker, 2012), pgs 349–350 [ Some paragraphing added]