Gospel News · January - April 2019

support of that statement he quoted the ex-
ample of Elijah, who was “a man subject to
like passions as we are” (5:16,17). God lis-
tened to Elijah, and his example shows that
He will also listen to us; but this does not
mean that every request we make will be
granted. Whilst James says, “The effectual
fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth
much”, and we know that the Apostle Paul was
a righteous man, yet when he prayed to God,
God refused to grant his request. So he says
“…there was given to me a thorn in the flesh,
the messenger of satan to buffet me, lest I
should be exalted above measure. For this
thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might
depart from me. And He said unto me, My
grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is
made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:7-9).
We are not privileged, as Paul was, to have a
direct, Divinely spoken, response to our
prayer, but the principle remains. God most
certainly listens to His children, but He does
not always relieve them of the problems that
face them. These problems have their place
and their purpose. James, for instance, ex-
horts us: “count it all joy when ye fall into
divers temptations [or trials]”. Why? “The try-
ing of your faith worketh patience” (1:2,3).
This we see above all in Jesus himself, of
whom it was written that he “learned obedi-
ence” (Heb. 5:8).
We have to learn to trust in our heavenly
Father. We have to believe that He is ever
watching over us and caring for us - day and
night. What is more, He will never put on us a
burden that we cannot bear, and we must
believe that. As Paul wrote: “There hath no
temptation taken you but such as is common
to man: but God is faithful, who will not suf-
fer you to be tempted above that ye are able;
but will with the temptation also make a way
to escape, that ye may be able to bear it”
(1 Cor. 10:13).
So, despite the fact that our prayers are
heard, we may yet be beset with many trials
and difficulties. We have many examples of
this in the Word, but perhaps it is Job, the ex-
ample given by James, who stands out above
all the rest. When he was in great trouble his
wife said to him: “curse God, and die”. Job
answered her: “Thou speakest as one of the
foolish women speaketh. What? shall we re-
ceive good at the hand of God, and shall we
not receive evil?” (Job 2:9,10). Job, as the
record shows, was not tried above that which
he was able to bear, and neither shall we be.
Living the Truth ...continued
“Jeshuran waxed fat and kicked”
t is not for us to know the measure of the
sacrifices we may be called upon to
endure. In our time we have seen religious
persecution in other lands. Who can say,
“WE shall never see it”? On the other hand
we have the paradox that we face greater
danger in the absence of persecution. We
all remember that striking and easily re-
membered phrase in Moses’ song: “Jeshurun
waxed fat and kicked.” This quaintly
expresses a fundamental principle of human
behaviour. Remember Israel’s history under
the Judges a continuous alternation of
repentance and apostasy. While we are not
forgetful that there are many heavy crosses
borne among us today and the struggle with
human nature is the same … still ecclesial
life is soft and easy. We have an abundance
of temporal provisions. It is no sacrifice to
join the ecclesia today. On the contrary,
there is considerable social attractiveness in
joining, and this is dangerous to our basic
strength of character and purpose. Brethren
and sisters, if the need arises, are we pre-
pared to go through the crucibal of afflic-
tion? The need is ever present to prepare
our defences. All in every age find shelter
in the same Rock in the time of crisis (Psa.
31:2-3). And we find Stephen echoing the
Psalmist’s words of verse 5:
“Into Thy hand I commit my spirit;
Thou hast redeemed me,
O Lord God of Truth.”
| R.W.C.