Last year I came across an excerpt from a wonderful work by John Bunyan called Seasonable Counsels: Advice to Sufferers. Bunyan's words were brought to me at a time in my life when I most needed them. I came across this excerpt again because lately I've been studying the subject of suffering and the Christian. The Urbans have been in the States for two weeks, so I had been given the privilege of teaching in our last two Sunday meetings. In two parts, I exposited 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, about God's grace being sufficient and His power being perfected in weakness. It's a subject I know about only too well, from nearly a lifetime of struggling with chronic, degenerative ailments and many other hardships. Out of a myriad number of topics to choose from, I felt a strange leading of the Lord to preach on that one. Last Sunday one of the brothers that preaches the Gospel with us and attends the meetings had just been fighting a strong stomach-flu that had him out of commission for more than a week (he seems to still be sick, as he didn't show up today). And this last week I myself have been sick; I caught a cold which, as the days have passed, has intensified in strength and severity...forcing me to immediately practice what I have preached. And in today's meeting, after giving the second part of the teaching, an eldelry professing Christian who visited us for the first time told me that it was a word he really needed to hear. So it seems that what I shared was timely and guided by the providential hand of God.
But without further ado, here is the excerpt. This is actually taken from a sermon by John Piper on the life of John Bunyan. Piper adds the biblical references, and in the second paragraph he gives us a summary of one part of the book by putting together some of the main points in that particular section.
It is not what enemies will, nor what they are resolved upon, but what God will, and what God appoints; that shall be done. . . . No enemy can bring suffering upon a man when the will of God is otherwise, so no man can save himself out of their hands when God will deliver him up for his glory. . . [just as Jesus showed Peter "by what death he would glorify God"]. We shall or shall not suffer, even as it pleaseth him.
God has appointed who shall suffer [Rev. 6:11 – the full number of martyrs]. . . . God has appointed . . . when they shall suffer [Acts 18:9-10 Paul's time of suffering was not yet come; so with Jesus in John 7:30]. . . . God has appointed where this, that or the other good man shall suffer ["it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem" Luke 13:33; 9:30f]. . . . God has appointed . . . what kind of sufferings this or that saint shall undergo [Acts 9:16 "how great things he must suffer;" John 21:19 "by what death he would glorify God"]. . . . Our sufferings, as to the nature of them, are all writ down in God's book; and though the writing seem as unknown characters to us, yet God understands them very well [Mark 9:13; Acts 13:29]. . . . It is appointed who of them should die of hunger, who with the sword, who should go into captivity, and who should be eaten up of beasts. Jeremiah 15:2,3.
To listen to the sermon and read a transcript of it, click HERE.
You can read Bunyan's work HERE.