“I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Rom. 8:18
What is God doing with His people? He is using all these things which are happening, primarily to bring about in His people that conformity to the image of His Son which is to mean Christ in manifestation in an elect people — a people foreordained — foreknown for this very thing. This thought of God is a delivering thought. How do you pray for the Lord’s people in times of trouble? Of course, we are all tempted to pray for their deliverance, to cry to the Lord that they may escape. It may be right at times to pray thus, but suppose the Lord does not deliver? He does not always deliver at once. He allows the situation to continue, to become long drawn out.
The enemy will encamp upon that fact and give it his own twist and interpretation — ‘God is not doing anything; He has left His people – is standing back – is not concerned.’ There is no answering voice, no slightest indication that He is taking any account at all. It is like that very often, and that is a real playground for the enemy. God apparently makes no response. How shall we be delivered from going to pieces, from being overwhelmed in such a time and under such conditions? Only by grasping this thought of God; and then we have to begin to pray along other lines.
If God does not act to deliver His people, there is a deeper and a higher thought and purpose than their deliverance, and He is at work upon that; and deeply in them He is going to reproduce the patience, the endurance, the longsuffering of Jesus Christ. If you go right over the whole ground of God’s Son perfected through sufferings and can read your Gospels anew and understand Him as He differs so utterly from the standards of men, you can see what God is doing with us His people. Meekness and gentleness — these are foreign things to our natures; under stress, under adversity, under the cruel hand of tyrannical men — to say, ‘Father, forgive’! He could say “I am meek and lowly in heart.” Oh, you see — the image of His Son. Such testing conditions are a terrible challenge to our natural dispositions. Our whole nature revolts against meekness and lowliness and wants to rise up and be even with the other one, or be the master. Our nature does not accept and delight in opposition, antagonism, frustration, persecution, and all such things.