Mature Class Study, teacher Leslie Crain.

Leslie read a passage that refers to those who suffer sorrow, disappointment, and heart break by unexpected sources.

Matthew 15:23 But he answered her not a word…

The passage was from Streams In The Desert, vol 1 for February 9 (by Mrs. Charles E. Cowan). They long, ache, and complain because they want to hear the Master say, “Be of good cheer” but God isn’t answering. It says his silence may be a sign of his approval and purpose to bless those who suffer this. We can even praise him for his silence.

Story of a Christian’s dream: Three women were praying. It was noticed how much attention the Master gave to each.  “the first…He bent over her in tenderness and grace, with smiles full of radiant love and spoke to her in accents of purest, sweetest music. Leaving her, He came to the next, but only placed His hand upon her bowed head, and gave her one look of loving approval. The third woman He passed almost abruptly without stopping for a word or glance. The woman …said to herself, How greatly He must love the first…the second He gave His approval, but none of the special demonstrations of love…third must have grieved Him…He gave her no word at all, and not even a passing look. I wonder what she has done…”

The lady quickly assumed the third lady did something to displease the Lord. Have we ever said or thought, Well she deserved that! We can find ourselves doing like the lady. Do we know the whole story of people’s interactions if we only see them in their Sunday best manners? The adversary of our souls and the Church of God is there to condemn or bring suspicious thoughts about things we don’t know anything about. We need to be aware and cast down those thoughts. Christ didn’t come to condemn the world! He showed love, compassion, longsuffering, and forgiveness. We must also.

John 3:17-18 For God sent not his Son…to condemn the world; but…through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in…Son of God.

Back to the story of a Christian’s dream quoted:

“The woman in her dream said to herself, How greatly He must love the first one, the second He gave the approval, but none of the special demonstrations of love He gave the first; and the third must have grieved Him deeply, for He gave her no word at all and not even a passing look. I wonder what she has done, and He made so much difference between them? As she tried to account for the action of her Lord, He Himself stood by her and said: O woman! how strongly hast thou interpreted Me. The first kneeling woman needs all…My tenderness and care to keep her feet in My narrow way. She needs My love, thought and help every moment of the day. Without it she would fail and fall. The second has stronger faith and deeper love, and I can trust her to trust Me however things may go and whatever people do. The third, whom I seemed not to notice, and even to neglect, has faith and love of the finest quality, and her I am training by quick and drastic processes for the highest and holiest service. The third woman knows Me so intimately, and trusts Me so utterly, that she is independent of words or looks, or any outward intimation of My approval. She is not dismayed nor discouraged by any circumstances through which I arrange that she shall pass; she trusts Me when sense and reason and every finer instinct of the natural heart would rebel; because she knows that I am working in her for eternity, and that what I do, though she knows not the explanation now, she will understand hereafter. I am silent in My love because I love beyond the power of words…or of human hearts to understand, and also for your sakes that you may learn to love and trust My love, without the spur of anything outward to call it forth.”

Our response to God’s silence when we suffer should be like the third lady. The Lord is working and knows best. We have to stand still in the valley of the shadow of death when if heaviness and our prayers don’t seem to go past the ceiling. If we all hung our trials on a big bush and walked around it, we’d pick our own again. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord (Psalm 37:23). He said he’ll hold our right hand as we go through life’s troubles. We all have things in common – we’re on equal ground. Some of the things that come on all of us:

Great sacrifices – When we come to Christ, our everything is our first sacrifice. We have to love others less and love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. God uses trials to teach us faith, to wait for him, and to love him no matter what.

Luke 14:25-27 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

When Abraham came many miles from Ur, he didn’t know God would say to put Isaac on the altar. Just because you put something on the altar doesn’t mean God will burn it up. God has a special care for what we put on the altar.

Genesis 22:1-2 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

Leading through a difficult way – God humbled the Israelites to prove if they would obey. Paul suffered many things for the Lord’s sake. He accepted hard things as God’s will for him. God teaches us by the things we suffer.

Deuteronomy 8:2-3 And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord…led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna…that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.

Acts 9:8-9 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

Acts 9:15-16 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

Giving opportunities for choices – God gave Solomon a choice and blessed him abundantly for making the right choice.

I Kings 3:5 In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.
I Kings 3:9-12 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked… And God said…Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches…nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold…I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise…

Lot suffered for choosing to pitch his tent toward Sodom. We need to seek God’s help for our choices.

Genesis 13:11-12 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan…and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.

David chose to not transgress with his mouth when God tried him. God tries and teaches us through hard choices.

Psalm 17:3 Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.

Proposing hard tasks – Gideon didn’t think he was mighty but God gave him a hard task. He felt God had forsaken them.

Judges 6:12-13 And the angel of the Lord appeared…said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. And Gideon said…Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of…but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.

Christ loved each of the apostles and worked with them according to what they had. He multiplied 5 loaves and 2 fish.

John 6:5-6 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

Sometimes our task is to wait. It’s hard to wait.

John 11:3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
John 11:5-6  Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

Permitting men to suffer as part of his plan – Paul and Silas were beaten, whipped, and thrown in prison (Acts 16:16-24).

By permitting temptation – Being tempted isn’t a sin! Story: A classmate left a candy bar on his desk and went to play. Another saw it and thought how it would taste and he hadn’t had a candy bar in a long time. He was tempted but walked away. It wasn’t wise to think about it but he didn’t sin. We can have joy in temptations because we have strength to resist!

James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.