Wednesday, April 18, 2012

We need our trials

While Joseph was tried in prison God’s great object was to prepare him for the government which awaited him. It was designed first to give him power to bear power: a rare acquirement. Solomon says, “As the fining pot to silver, and the furnace to gold, so is a man to his praise.” Many a man can bear affliction, but few men can endure prosperity; and I have marked it, and you must have marked it too, that the most perilous thing in all the world is to step suddenly from obscurity into power. Have we not seen men, illiterate and unknown, suddenly introduced to the Christian pulpit, and made much of, and has it not frequently turned out that their names have been by-and-by prudently forgotten, for they were overthrown by the dizzy heights to which they were lifted? It is far better that a man should fight his way up to his position, that he should be assailed by enemies and distrusted by friends, and should pass through a probationary career. Even then he can only stand as the Lord holds him, but without it he is in especial peril. Hence the apostle says, “not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” If I knew that some young man here present would be greatly owned of God in the future, and become in future a prince in our Israel, if by lifting up of this finger I could screen him from fierce criticism, misrepresentation, and abuse, I would not do it, because, severe as the ordeal might be to him, I am persuaded it is needful that he should pass through it in order to make him able to bear the giddy heights of the position for which God intends him.

Joseph on the throne of Egypt, I know not what he might have been if first of all he had not been laid in the stocks. His feet learned to stand fast on a throne through having been set fast in a dungeon. His gold chain was worn without pride because he had worn a chain of iron; and he was fit to be the ruler of princes because he had himself been a servant among prisoners. Through his trial God gave him power to bear power, and this is a far rarer gift than the power to endure oppression and contempt.

From a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon entitled "Trial By The Word," delivered February 6, 1876. Image by Xristoforos on Flickr under Creative Commons License.

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