I was recently strengthened in my soul through a portion of a sermon I read from a Puritan pastor I know very little about - Elias Pledger. This is taken from a selection of Puritan devotional readings which I recommend most highly. Voices From The Past is edited by Richard Rushing and it has been my daily companion for a number of years.
In the experience of God’s people, it is often found that when their outward condition is troubled, their inward state is full of perplexities and fears. In affliction Satan seeks to make a breach between us and God. He is most malicious to those with whom he has little hope of victory, as in Job’s case. If he cannot run us on a rock, he will seek to upset us with a tempest. If he cannot rob us of grace, he will seek to disturb our peace and comfort.
Believers can expect inward and outward trouble because we have married Christ with his cross. We are delivered from the curse indeed, but are appointed to the cross. Outward afflictions may be many and heavy, and come upon the neck of another. We may feel the hard brunt enough to exercise our whole strength of faith and patience.
Inward afflictions are far more heavy and grievous than afflictions of the body, for a wounded spirit who can bear? It is not unusual though, that both of these rods come upon us at once, as a load on a broken back.
What shall we do? We must take a hold on God by renewed acts of faith. Faith is used not only for our entrance into grace, but also for our continuance and progress through all temptations and difficulties. Faith and prayer must be the breathing of our souls to keep the hart alive. We must trust the Lord in every change and condition of life.
I will lay the weight of my sinking spirit on the free grace of Christ. I will renew my hold, life, and expectations there. This is the path. I will never be turned from it. A trusting Christian in this strength may challenge all the gates of hell. “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56:3).