An evidence that our will has been broken is that we begin to thank God for that which once seemed so bitter, knowing that His will is good and that, in His time and in His way, He is able to make the most bitter waters sweet.
He cleansed suffering! It was no longer a sign of our being caught in the wheel of existence, as Buddha suggests; no longer the result of our evil deeds of a previous birth, as our Hindu friends tell us; no longer the sign of the displeasure of God, as many of all ages and of all religions have suggested; no longer something to be stoically and doggedly borne. It is more than that. Suffering is the gift of God.
For if [a Christian] cannot thank and praise God as well in calamities and sufferings as in prosperity and happiness, he is as far from the piety of a Christian as he that only loves them that love him is from the charity of a Christian. For to thank God only for such things as you like is no more a proper act of piety than to believe only what you see is an act of faith. Resignation and thanksgiving to God are only acts of piety when they are acts of faith, trust and confidence in the divine goodness.
The same suffering that reveals our weaknesses reveals God’s strength, “for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). When we are least effective in our human strength and have only God’s power to sustain us, then we are suitable channels through which His power flows. And so we should praise God for adversity because that’s when His power is most evident in our lives. There is no one too weak to be powerful, but there are many too strong.
Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful, with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my seventy five years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained… This, of course, is what the Cross signifies. And it is the Cross, more than anything else, that has called me inexorably to Christ.
If anyone thinks that on account of our trials of faith during this year we have been disappointed in our expectations or discouraged in the work, my answer is that the very opposite is true. Such days were expected from the beginning. The chief end for which the institution was established is that the Church would see the hand of God stretched out on our behalf in answer to prayer. Our desire, therefore, is not that we may be without trials of faith, but that the Lord would graciously support us in the trial and that we may not dishonor Him by distrust.
The Autobiography of George Muller, 1984, p. 130. All quotations taken from books published by Whitaker House are used with permission of the publisher. Whitaker House books are available at Christian bookstores everywhere. Get this book!