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Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Purpose of Suffering

Listen now to this very important, particularly important thing. It is, indeed, all-important. Daniel knew that God was using adversity, suffering, disillusionment, to force His people back to His original and primary thought. For Daniel it was perfectly clear that God was using all that was in Babylon, that suffering, adversity, affliction, to force them back - yes, to force them back; not just to call them back, but to force them back - to His original full thought. They were being driven, literally driven, by Heaven to a position where they would just have to make a choice between two things: either a counsel of despair and compromise and frustration, or, alternatively, all that was involved in going back to, and standing for, God's full thought.

There is much of present history in that. Let us go to China, to what has been in China for some generations from the standpoint of Christian activity and endeavor. Now what I am saying is not meant for a moment to under-value or disparage all the sacrifice and all the poured-out devotion. That will find its place in what abides. But when the whole story is read, as we are not able to read it, it is clear that much crept in that was not according to God's full and original thought. It came to be very largely something foreign, something institutional, something organizational, something of man's making. And what has happened? Oh, a deluge of suffering, of adversity, of disillusionment, of break-up and disintegration and scattering. What is surviving? What is coming out of it? The things have gone; the people of the things have departed. What is surviving? Only - but surely - that which is heavenly and spiritual. And it is surviving, thank God! Something not made with hands; something not of man's making, however well-intentioned. Oh, the suffering, the unspeakable suffering! But what has it done? It has driven believers back to God's original thought, to His full thought, with all that is less and other than that stripped off.

China I have taken as an example. But this is spreading, and it is going to spread. It is going on and coming on. God is doing in relation to His heavenly purpose what He was doing in Daniel's day in relation to earthly purpose. He uses suffering and adversity to compel back. That is the explanation of your suffering and my suffering. What is God doing by means of all this adversity and suffering? Just driving us, forcing us to a position which cannot be destroyed, to the spiritual which will ever overcome the temporal. He is just forcing us; we are under compulsion. And this is going to spread, dear friends. That is a mark of what belongs to the present age.

Have you intelligence as to what God is doing - doing in you by way of suffering, disillusionment, doing in the world, doing in the Church? God has not abandoned what He set out to realize, and if He cannot do it in any other way, He will force to the point of a decision. Either you deliberately accept this situation as hopeless, and you compromise, as the majority did in Babylon, and settle down; or you take the course of the remnant who said: "All this points clearly to the fact that God is not satisfied, that the situation is not what God intended, and we are going to give ourselves to that which God meant!" Will you be like the few who went back for that? But oh, how costly! You see, Daniel's prayer had to do with that, the bringing about of that issue, the forcing up to that decision - cooperation with God to secure that parting of the ways. Are you going to stay behind, or are you going on with God?

Complete Separation

And that prayer was based upon a life, in the case of Daniel, firstly of complete separation from self interest. If you have got interests, personal, private interests, in the kingdom of God, then you will not be able to pray like this, you will not be able to touch Heaven. Secondly, there was complete separation from all worldly principles. They tried to involve him in their worldly principles. He said: 'No, never!' Much ought to be said about that - the Church and worldly principles. Thirdly, there was complete separation from the fear of man. How delivered from the fear of man was Daniel! And, finally, there was complete separation from merely earthly associations. That involved him in something. The den of lions prepared for himself, and the seven times heated furnace for his companions - they were satan's alternatives to going his way. To Daniel's companions satan said: 'Either you come my way, or you burn. Those are the alternatives. Abandon your line, your way, your life of separation and your objective, and come my way - or burn.' You can interpret that as you like. You know something, perhaps, of what that means spiritually.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 1 - "Daniel Was Deliberate")

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