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Foundation Truth, Number 30 (Summer 2012) | Timeless Truths Publications

From A Pot of Oil by George D. Watson

Tried by the Lord

The Lord tries a perfect believer according to his peculiar make-up and condition in life. Hence the instruments of His trying may often be the very opposite in different persons, and in different periods in life. He puts one soul to a test by giving it riches, and another by giving it poverty, and sometimes He tries a believer by giving him both these experiences at different times, to see how his soul will behave in the opposite extremes.

He sometimes gives a soul excessive joy, and to another excessive sorrow, to see how faith and obedience will act in each case. He sometimes gives one apparently more work than he can do, and deprives another of work, in order to test the hidden principle of patience and fidelity in each case. He sometimes gives an abundance of friends, and sometimes makes one stand alone, seemingly friendless, but in both instances He is proving the secret life of the soul in a way we do not begin to comprehend. At one time He may flood the mind with excessive light on heavenly things and then, at another time, allow everything, both in nature and grace to seem a blinding mass of gloom. At one time He may allow us to be eminently successful, and then turn the scale and make all our life seem a failure. As in nature there are excessive floods, and then long droughts, so God’s dealings in the realm of grace partake of the same features as His physical providence.

As in making good watches, the mechanism is put in ice, and then in fire, until the movement will be correct in either severe temperature, so God deals with the hearts of those He dearly loves, that by all sorts of opposite and apparently contradictory dealings, He may prove the delicate mechanism in the fountains of holy character. While one extreme will put to a test certain principles of the soul, it requires just an opposite treatment to test other parts of Christian character.

Another way the Lord tries a saint is by giving him bright visions of the possibilities of life and service, and begetting within the heart a sweet and uncontrollable desire to do a certain service for the Lord, then binding the soul in utter helplessness, and giving it no facilities for accomplishing its high and heavenly longings. In reading of the lives of Bible characters, and the burning prayers expressed in the Psalms, and seeing the lives of holy people, this feature of experience is largely expressed. A great eagle in a cage, with his eye piercing the great spaces of heavenly blue, which seems to invite his wings, is a picture of this form of trial.

Another form of trying the soul is leading it into an unlimited abandonment to God, by which it renounces its own liberty, and plans, and hopes, and fears, by which it entrusts itself unspeakably to the guidance of the Lord. Then, after all this, the Lord seems to entrap such a soul and take advantage of its unlimited consecration by putting it into awful circumstances, and loading it down with burdens that seem too heavy to bear, and getting it into a prison house of sorrow and trouble, and at the same time rendering it absolutely helpless. Many a soul has been amazed with a mysterious fear and grief at this form of trial, not knowing that such trial is the very thing that seals the consecration, and causes it to actually experience the very thing it agreed to, and that this position of going through, of utter abandonment in real knowledge, is what proves the soul’s perfect fidelity to God.

Another phase of trying the perfect believer, is the monotony of spiritual life which never belongs to any of the fresh and early stages, either in justification or sanctification, but is one of the features in a life of perfect faith. This monotony of the spiritual state is not to be permanent, but it is a phase of testing the grace of perseverance.

There come periods to the most perfectly consecrated soul when it must push its way through a sameness of things, and over dreary, monotonous plains, where the thoughts, and emotions, and prayers and duties are like a tiresome treadmill, day after day, week after week, and month after month, in which there come no new visions, no fresh gushes of prayer, no bright thoughts of heavenly beauty, and everything in religion seems to be dull and tiresome. This experience will prove just exactly the quality of energy in the soul, and if it can push bravely on through these monotonous portions of the journey, it will sooner or later come into a place of new and manifold riches of divine things.

The best of souls have had another kind of trial—being led to do a work for the Lord, a work which called forth all the energy and painstaking care of devoted love, and sometimes a work that required all of one’s money, or health, or influence and, after all, to see hardly any fruit of his labour or expenditure. Many of the prophets were tried in this way, and the Psalmist speaks of those “who sow[ed] in tears,”* (Psalm 126:5) and then lay down in the field of toil and fell asleep in Jesus, waiting for the time of the harvest when they shall return with Jesus, bringing their golden sheaves into the kingdom festival.

These are some of the many ways in which God makes Himself a trial to His loved ones. How slow we are to learn of God Himself. The apostle speaks of a believer as first being full of love, and then abounding in all fruitfulness, and then beyond this “increasing in the knowledge of God.”* (Colossians 1:10) But how can we know God except by His direct and thorough dealings with us?