(Octavius Winslow, “Trial, A Help Heavenward”)
The school of trial is the school of spiritual knowledge.
Oh yes, in severe trials we learn more of . . .
God’s power to support us,
His wisdom to guide us,
His love to comfort us,
in a degree we could not have learned but in the way of trial!
In affliction, we grow in a knowledge of ourselves, learning more of our superficial attainments, shallow experience, and limited grace. We learn, too, more of our weakness, emptiness, and vileness … And when our self-sufficiency and our self-seeking and our self-glorying is thus mowed down–then the showers of the Savior’s grace descend “as rain upon the mown grass,” and so we advance in knowledge and holiness heavenward.
Trial, too, increases our acquaintance with Christ. We know more of the Lord Jesus through one sanctified affliction, than by all the treatises the human pen ever wrote! Christ is only savingly known, as He is known personally and experimentally.
Books cannot teach Him,
sermons cannot teach Him,
lectures cannot teach Him.
They may aid our information and correct our views–but to know Him as He is, and as we ought, we must have personal dealings with Him.
our needs must bring us to His fullness,
our weakness must bring us to His strength,
our sorrow must bring us to His sympathy, and
His own loveliness and love must attract us to Himself.
And oh, in one hour, in a single transaction, in a lone sorrow, which has brought us to Jesus–who can estimate how rapidly and to what an extent we have grown in a knowledge of His person and work, His character and love?
Oh yes, times of trial are times of growth in experimental knowledge. We see God and Jesus and truth from new standpoints, and in a different light; and we thank the Lord for the storm which dispelled the mist which hid all this glory, unveiling so lovely a landscape and so serene a sky to our view.
I have seen more of my own vileness,
and known more of Jesus,
and have penetrated deeper into the heart of God,
and have a clearer understanding of revealed truth,
and have learned more of the mysteries of the divine life
–on this bed of sickness, in this time of bereaved sorrow, in this dark cloud that has overshadowed me–than in all my life before!
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