In the Fellowship of the Ring, the ominous Nazgul ride into the peaceful Shire on huge black horses pursuing Frodo and the other hobbits looking for the ring of power. This graphic scene portrays what oftentimes happens in our lives: All is peaceful, happy, and simple. Then the black horse of affliction rides into our lives.
Charles Spurgeon writes: Be thankful for the providence which has made you poor, or sick, or sad; for by all this Jesus works the life of your spirit and turns you to Himself. The Lord’s mercy often rides to the door of our hearts on the black horse of affliction. Jesus uses the whole range of our experience to wean us from earth and woo us to Heaven. Christ is exalted to the throne of Heaven and earth in order that, by all the processes of His providence, He may subdue hard hearts to the gracious softening of repentance.
Let us praise our Lord that He is a God who extracts such mercies out of miseries!’ (from John Flavel) and He will do the same with us.
When we forget this about our Lord, we question, rail against, and complain to the Lord in times of trouble and travail. Why us? Why not us? Let us settle it firmly in our minds, that there is a message from God in every sorrow that befalls us. There are no lessons so powerful as those learned in the school of affliction. “No chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous–nevertheless afterward it yields peaceable fruit.” (Heb. 12:11.) The resurrection morning will prove that many of the losses of God’s people were in reality eternal gains.
Young people, how easy it is to consider a long life as an inalienable right and guaranteed certainty! You never know what a day may bring forth. The strongest and fairest are cut down and carried away in a few hours. Six University of Alabama students died in the deadly tornado of April 27, 2011. Are you personally prepared to meet God? Are you putting off doing business with Christ? Are you living like you are ready to depart at any moment?
Why is it that I can confidently assure you that the Lord’s mercy will arrive in your time of affliction? Jesus was afflicted to end all affliction. Jesus died so that death would die. The prophet Isaiah reminds us: “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.”