(Kersten, Heidelberg Catechism, Vol.1. part 11) The Providence of God Lord's Day 10 Psalter No. 16 st. 4 and 8 Read Isaiah 40:1-17 Psalter No. 86 st. 1, 2, 3 Psalter No. 175 st. 1 and 3 Psalter No. 400 st. 3 and 4 Beloved! God fulfills in time what He has determined in His council in eternity; as we have just sung, "The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations." Before the foundation of the world He has determined what shall happen and what shall not happen. Nothing comes to pass except what God in His sovereign will has determined shall come to pass. Neither does a hair fall from our head without His will; that will of God is one and unchangeable. We may speak of a will of His decree, and a will of God's command, but there are no two wills in God. It is not true that the will of His command differs from that which is determined by His decree. Specifically it is contrary to the simplicity of God's will to say, that in the will of His decree He has determined that not all people shall be saved, but it definitely is the will of His command that all people shall be saved. Who ever heard such language among those who confess the Reformed religion? Are there then two wills in God? Two opposite wills? Is the will of God's command not one with His decree, specifically with that part which He has revealed to us? Or was it, to give one example, contrary to God's decree that the Lord commanded Abraham to offer his son Isaac, who according to the unchangeable will of God, could not die? No, this is not contradictory. However, God not only decreed that Isaac live so that all nations should be blessed in him, but that decree was of much wider scope, namely to try Abraham's faith by commanding him to offer Isaac. When Abraham, strengthened by faith, did not withhold his only son from the Lord, then he, as it were, received him again from the dead. Thus God's decree is executed by His command. In that decree the salvation of the elect is immovably firm, yea all things are determined which shall certainly come to pass, evil as well as good; the judgment and destruction of the wicked, as well as the salvation and protection of the righteous. The Lord shall make all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose. Therefore God's people can rejoice in the stability of God's counsel. Not only the end, that is, their salvation is firmly decreed, but all things that happen to them in their life are decreed and directed by Him. Therefore He upholds all creation and governs all things in His providence. I now wish to speak of God's providence, asking your attention for the tenth Lord's Day of the Heidelberg Catechism. Lord's Day 10 Q. 27: What dost thou mean by the providence of God? A. The almighty and everywhere present power of God; whereby, as it were by His hand, He upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, and all things come, not by chance, but by His fatherly hand. Q. 28: What advantage is it to us to know that God has created, and by His providence does still uphold all things? A. That we may be patient in adversity; thankful in prosperity; and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from His love; since all creatures are so in His hand, that without His will cannot so much as move. This Lord's Day deals with the providence of God, and teaches us I what it is; II how it works; III what the profit is of faith in providence. I In the previous Lord's Day, the foundation was laid for what is treated in Lord's Day 10. Creation and providence belong together. According to His eternal counsel, the Father upholds and governs His creatures in His work of providence of which Christ spoke: "My Father worketh hitherto." God's providence is not mentioned by that name in the Bible. It is referred to by other names, such as, His reign, His ordinances, His hand and His deeds. However, the word providence is Biblical. When Isaac asked his father, "Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" Abraham answered, "My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering." Abraham called the name of this place, as we read in Gen. 22:14: "Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen." Thus Abraham not only believed that God knew and saw everything beforehand from eternity, but also, that the Lord would provide a lamb in his need and would give it when necessary. Hence the providence of God refers not only to God's foreknowledge, but includes also providing what is necessary. Also in Heb. 11:40 "provide" is used in that same sense: "God having provided some better thing for us, that they (that is, the Old Testament believers) without us should not be made perfect." Therefore God's providence is the almighty and everywhere present power of God; whereby, as it were by His hand, He upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures. Psalm 115:3 speaks of the almighty power: "Our God is in the heavens; He has done whatsoever He has pleased." "I know", says Job, "that Thou can't do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from Thee." Nothing is withheld from this almighty power of God. That this power is everywhere present is evident from Jer. 23:23, 24, "Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?" Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord." No creature in heaven or on earth can move without that power of God. The Lord makes the bright clouds, of Him is the noise of thunder. God thundereth marvelously with His voice, great things teeth He which we cannot comprehend. He gives us our being, and takes away our breath and we die." "He is not far from every one of us, for in Him we live and move, and have our being." (Acts 17:27, 28) How many do not acknowledge this work of the Father. The one ascribes to fate and chance, and another to nature and its laws, those things which the providence of God works out most accurately. The Heist denies that God cares for His creation. "The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it", said Israel of old, and many today say likewise. Yea, the proud nature of each one of us rebels against submitting to that almighty and omnipresent power of God. How precious then, in the face of all this denial, is the clear, scriptural confession of our Catechism about the doctrine of the providence of God. It is the omnipotent and omnipresent power of God outside of which nothing can exist, not even a moment. "Thou takest their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, they are created, and Thou renewest the face of the earth." All things come to us from the hand of the Lord and calls our attention to notice the work of His hands and to live dependently upon Him. We may see this more clearly in this Lord's Day as we hear in the second place II how this providence of God works. In God's providence we distinguish three acts, namely preservation, cooperation, and government. The preservation is that almighty power of God by which He continues all things in their being. If the shingles blow from your roof during a storm, you repair the damage, for if it is not repaired soon, the entire house will suffer. Your house needs upkeep in order to remain as it is. How much more then does all creation need preservation by its Creator, since nothing exists of itself, nor through itself. "He upholds all things by the word of His power." All things exist through Him. "That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the West, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I the Lord do all these things." Thus God cares for all His creatures, so that "not one sparrow falls on the ground without your Father, and the very hairs on your head are all numbered." That preservation is mediate. God bound us to the means, but He Himself stands above the means. Moses abode on the mountain forty days, immediately sustained by God; but Israel received bread out of heaven, although God could just as well have preserved them for forty years by the word of His power without bread; but that was not His pleasure. He bound us to the means, and said, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread." For the sick He gave physicians, and in times of sickness we must call the physician, looking to God in prayer. Even His mediate preservation is sometimes so wonderful. Joseph, instructed by God, built large storehouses in the years of plenty, so that in the coming years of famine the people would be saved. God's tender loving care is also seen in the mediate, but also very wonderful preservation of Elijah by Cherith and the widow at Zarephath. All brooks in Israel were dried up, and now the brook which otherwise was dry before the others, and therefore was named Cherith (dried up), still had water; for Elijah must drink from it, while thieving crows bring him meat. It all seems contradictory, but shows a glorious harmony and divine preservation. Making one more cake for herself and for her son would use up the meal and the oil of the widow, but lo, she and her son and the man of God sent to her, eat of it many days and the supply does not diminish. Let God's people speak of the ways in which the Lord showed them ten, twenty and a hundred times, how He provided for them as He did for Elijah, His servant. Elijah's ravens are still living; the God of Elijah is still the same. Have no fear; they that fear the Lord shall not want any good thing. The Lord feeds them with food convenient for them. Although that portion is not abundant according to the world, and often such that their flesh murmurs, their bread shall be given them; their waters shall be sure. The ears of grain shall grow as long as the righteous need food. There is a very special providence of God for His church, but His providence is not limited to the church, it extends over all things; also over the wicked, according to Rom. 9:22: "God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction." However rich the blessings are which the reprobates receive out of the providence of God, they are fitted to destruction. Never do they receive a blessing in God's favour. That is for the Lord's people alone. "That He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had store prepared unto glory." From this distinguishing dispensation, we may conclude that the little of the righteous is better than the riches of many wicked. The latter are borne in God's long suffering, but those that fear the Lord are to make known the riches of His glory. We could include cooperation with preservation; the Catechism does not mention it separately. Cooperation is that preservation of God by which He influences all the motions and operations of His creatures. God does not at birth give the creature all the power it needs throughout its life, but gives strength for every act at every moment. The strength we need to move our lips, to get in or out of our beds, to do our work day after day, comes moment by moment from Him Who not only created us, but also preserves us, and without Whom we can not move an arm or a foot, dependent as we are upon Him for every heart-beat. What a great responsibility does that constant flow of strength lay upon man! He must take heed how he uses that strength. The strength is of God, the use of that strength, although guided by God, serves to fulfill God's counsel but is our responsibility. If God had not given him the strength to do it, Joab could not have smitten Abner under the fifth rib in Hebron's gate, but Joab misused that strength given by God, and that misuse rested upon the head of Joab and all his house. Although the misuse of the given strength makes us guilty before God, still nothing happens without God's government. Everything is subject to that government. "The Lord is clothed with strength." "Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will." "The Lord shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the Lord." His government is not only over the good, but also over the evil. Do not misunderstand: God never does what is evil, neither directly nor indirectly. He Who is spotlessly holy can never be the cause of anything sinful. But the evil which the creature does is subject to the government of God, and is guided to a certain end, determined by Him. Take for example, Joseph, who was sold as a slave to Egypt. His brothers shamefully abused their father's darling, but Joseph saw God's government even in the evil deeds of his brothers and testified, "As for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive." How wonderful was the government of God in the wrong way that Naomi went. Naomi was going her own way when she left the land of promise and went to Moab. She confessed that uprightly. Yet Naomi's going to Moab was the means of bringing Ruth to Israel. In this connection we see also Pilate, the man who violates justice to obtain the favour of the Jews, but through his deed, God's justice punished the sins of the elect in the condemned Surety, so that Zion shall be redeemed with judgment. Neither the message of Pilate's wife, which gave the chief priests the opportunity to stir up the people, nor the people's demand that Barabbas should be released, nor ... but follow Christ's suffering and death from step to step, and everything, even the smallest incidents shall show you God's government, also of sin. Even Satan is the object of God's government. He is summoned to give account of his doings, to that end he is standing before God on the day on which the sons of God (those are the angels) present themselves before the Lord; he may not go farther in distressing Job than God permits, and he is limited, first to what Job has, and then he is told to save his life. Nothing, not even the freest acts of the creature are excluded from the government of God. "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord." Nothing happens by chance. We say things happen by chance when events occur entirely without human guidance. Ruth did not go consciously, according to a prepared plan, to the field of Boaz, but without any such intention. "Her hap was to light on a part of the field of Boaz." Thus we would say it was by chance that first the priest, then the Levite, and at last the Samaritan passed the man who had fallen among thieves between Jerusalem and Jericho. However, by the order in which they passed, we can clearly see which was the neighbor to the victim. Many things happen by chance, without human guidance, but nothing ever happens without God's government. In God's government there is no chance: herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, and all things come not by chance, but by His fatherly hand. "Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it; Thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God which is full of water; Thou prepares them corn, when Thou hast so provided for it. Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly; Thou settles the furrows thereof; Thou makes it soft with showers; Thou blessest the springing thereof. Thou crownest the year with Thy goodness; and Thy paths drop fatness." Thus the psalmist sings of rain and fruitfulness. On the other hand, Judah in the days of Jeremiah mourned about the dearth: "Her gates languish; they are black unto the ground; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up." The great drought and barrenness in the time of Elijah was the rod of God over Ahab and Israel. Oh, how terrible was the reproach of God by Amos. "I have smitten you with blasting and mildew; when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmer worm devoured them; yet have ye not returned unto Me, saith the Lord." Also food and drink are a gift of God. "Thou openest Thine hand, and satisfies the desire of every living thing." "He also woundeth, and His hands make whole." He gives health and sickness. However hard it may be to accept it, our frail bodies and our many sicknesses are sent to us by God as well as good health. He also made both poor and rich. God made Abraham rich; Solomon desired wisdom, but received also abundant riches. How great was the grace and the power of faith in the impoverished Job when he cried out, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Besides that which has been mentioned, you may name anything you please; it is all under the government of God. There is no good thing on earth that does not come from Him, and there is no evil in the city that the Lord has not done. The Assyrian was the rod of His anger, and the staff in their hand was His indignation. Shall the ax boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood." War and peace come from Him Who said, "I make peace and create evil; I the Lord do all these things." God hardens Pharaoh's heart, although He does not cause the hardening, but He withholds the common grace which would have let him allow Israel to go as God had demanded through Moses. Not only the devil, but the Lord provoked David to number Israel by giving David, His servant, over to the pride of his heart, so that he persisted in spite of the admonition of wicked Joab, for God sought occasion to punish Israel. The Lord caused the walking of David on the roof to take place at the same time as Bath-sheba's washing herself, so that his eye fell upon her and his carnal lusts were stirred. God never works sin but the committing of sin is never outside of God's decree and knowledge and cooperation, so that He shall also glorify Himself through the abomination of iniquity. By all this we can see how much we must shun what is evil, so the Lord will not righteously give us over to sin, and also how God's people need His watchful care from moment to moment. Faith in God's providence is therefore very profitable for God's children, to which we now give our attention, hearing about III the profit of faith in providence. The Catechism sets this forth very clearly in the last question of the 10th Lord's Day, asking, "What advantage is it to us to know that God has created and by His providence does still uphold all things?" "That we may be patient in adversity; thankful in prosperity; and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from His love; since all creatures are so in His hand, that without His will they cannot so much as move." "There is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked." Yea, it is written that many are the afflictions of the righteous. God's children also are subject to all kinds of miseries, it is all a part of their school of life. The hard lesson they must learn is to follow the Lord through fields sown and not sown. Our nature cannot do so, not for a moment, never, not under any circumstances. Grace is needed to be able to do so. That is especially evident in adversities, although we are no better in prosperity, not nearer to loving and following God; but in adversity we show more of our enmity against God's providence, and we become more aware of the fact that patience in adversity does not grow upon our field. Do not misunderstand. Being patient in adversity is not the same as the stoical indifference of many even under the severest strokes, of those who "take it as it comes" because they "can't do anything about it." Such people know nothing of an upright submission to God's will. Yea, they do not bow under their sin, for they do not know the cause of their misery and therefore are strangers to the prophet's testimony, "I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against Him." For them is the awful reproach of the Lord, "Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more." With a laugh upon his lips the worldling goes his way in cold indifference, even in adversities, as long as his wickedness can still refrain from cursing the Almighty. But that coolness in regard to God's dealings, is not the patience which the Catechism describes as the fruit of the knowledge of faith, that God created all things and still upholds them in His providence. He who is made patient in adversities, has in his soul an intimate union with the dealings of God. He does not bow because he can not change it, but because he does not want to change it. Whatever God does, also in adversity, is good, and that because in the evil, whether sickness or poverty or death of loved ones, or whatever it was, he felt the bitterness of the fruit of his sin. That makes him lay his hand on his mouth and hold his peace. No, the one who is patient in adversity is not cold and indifferent, but his soul is humbled before God; he was guilty, and God did him no injustice. However much his flesh weeps against the hard ways God leads him, he desires to be quietly waiting for the salvation of the Lord; for with the Lord there is forgiveness that He might be feared. True patience in adversity flows forth from learning that we are clay in the hand of the Potter. Is God not free in His doings? "Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" Notice also that the Lord sends adversities to His people for their good. "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." Often the paths of affliction are blessed paths for the soul. When the Lord's gold goes into the crucible, He is not far from the tried gold with His Fatherly love. "And all that call on Him in truth, in Him a present Helper find." Do not believe that flesh and blood can make us patient. The language of Asaph is not strange to God's children: "Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning." No, then all is not well; then all that is in us murmurs against God's doings; then we call God to account and say, "Why! why do all these adversities come upon me, all those continuous misfortunes? Why do the wicked go free, having no bands in their death? It should be the other way. We know it, and do not wait for answers upon our why's; God's way is not good! Only the Spirit of God can bring us to the right place, to make us ashamed and humble. Oh, then God's ways become good and holy; then we become as a beast before Him. By the winning grace of the Lord, by becoming at one with His doings, our soul learns to follow patiently, and our ways of affliction become sweet to us, so that we would not want less, and the hope is stirred up that one day all our afflictions shall end and shall be changed into eternal glory. How good it was for that woman who lost her cattle and both her children, when asked how she fared in that deep way, was enabled by the grace of God to answer, "In heaven I shall sing eternally of the ways of God and shall I complain about them now? In the night His song shall be with me." Then Paul's lesson is practiced, "Be patient in tribulation " That same grace is necessary to be thankful in prosperity. Or do we think it would be easier to exercise true thankfulness in prosperity than to exercise patience? Do we not confuse thankfulness with natural gladness in prosperity? Or is it thankfulness when our lips say that God is good because we get what we want? Would not God loathe all that praising and rejoicing? True thankfulness is exercised in the depth of unworthiness and guiltiness, "I am not worthy," said Jacob, "of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth which Thou hast showed unto Thy servant." Then we cry out with the Psalmist, "What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits to me? I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord." It is our nature to do as Jeshurun, who kicked when he waxed fat, and forgot about God. True thankfulness, in which God in Christ is praised and we become nothing, is like patience in tribulation, no fruit of our field, but is the fruit of faith in the providence of God, and is the work of grace in us, exercised only in communion with Him, Who is not only the sin offering, but also the thank offering for His own. As patience in adversity, and thankfulness in prosperity are fruits of grace, so also is it a fruit of grace that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father. To have such a firm trust demands that we give ourselves up unconditionally to the guidance and disposition of God. For us it is hidden, entirely hidden what shall befall us. Whether our life will be short or long, whether we will have prosperity or adversity, health or sickness, no one knows but He who sends us our portion according to His eternal council. We would so gladly lift up the veil of that dark unknown future. That is sadly evident from the way in which so many in these days seek the answers to their questions by means of soothsayers, fortune tellers, or what other name such women use (for Satan usually uses women for this), who say they can foretell the future as Saul did by means of the woman at Endor. Why? Because those many, like Saul, are unable and unwilling to submit to God's government. Although we do not go to fortune tellers, believe me, our hearts are no different. We, fallen children of Adam, seek our life without God; we want to go ahead of him, and will not follow him. That is because of our corrupt state. Did we not become lord and master? Did we not believe the words of Satan, "Ye shall be as God?" Who then is the Lord, that He should guide our lot? The regulation of our lives shall lie in our hands, not in God's hand. Flesh and blood does not teach us to give ourselves entirely for time and eternity into God's hand, so that He will do with us according to His good pleasure. It is by faith that God's children, purchased with soul and body by the blood of the Lamb, so know themselves to belong to the Lord that they live on His account, so that all things shall work together for good to them that are called according to His purpose, whether it be prosperity or adversity, gain or loss; all things without exception, even though it seems to be otherwise, all things shall work together for good for the people of God. The unconditional surrender to the Lord teaches us our dependence upon the Lord, saying with David, "Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord." "Mine eyes are unto Thee, O Lord," whatever may happen, for faith in God's providence makes us trust that whatever God brings upon us will be for our good, and that He will, somehow, give deliverance even from death. The providence of God is for him who believes not in fate, nor fortune; both disappointments and successes are of God according to His adorable plan. Only by faith do we yield to that providence. Our nature would turn matters about and wickedly make God's providence serve our happiness. That is especially evident in lotteries, and therefore our fathers condemned all games of chance sharply. God's providence guides the casting of lots. "The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord." There is a use of the lot that is holy, namely, when it is not used in play or for our own gain, but to know the will and decision of God, to His glory. Playing with the providence of God is condemned. Thus all lotteries are condemned and all games that depend on luck or chance, card and dice games. Let us keep watch in our home and round about, also that our children do not become accustomed to games with dice or other means by which "chance" is used, even if used for the benefit of charity. To be confident for the future is a rich fruit of faith in God's providence; but how rarely that fruit is found. Do you not see that the whole matter of insurance which is reaching out farther and farther, is only an attempt to take our future out of God's hands? "These things do the Gentiles seek," said Christ. "Therefore, take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or Wherewithal shall we be clothed? ... for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." He cares for His people more than for the birds of the air and for the lilies of the field. He saves them time after time from the greatest dangers, so that God's people can sing with the Psalmist in Psalter No. 175, st. 1 and 3. Application What shall our answer be to the question: "What believest thou of the providence of God?" According to the Scriptures I may hope that all of you, both young and old agree with the instructor of old, and that you will never give up your orthodox confession. May that confession have such a deep impression in our hearts that we will walk accordingly. If you should come upon deep ways, in riddles that you cannot solve, do not be tempted to consult the satanic work of fortune tellers. Let Saul be an example to you, who fell into this sin in Endor, and to whom Satan appeared in the form of Samuel. Soon Saul was entirely in the power of the devil and ended his own life. Oh, keep your foot from the paths of fortune-tellers and sorcery and do not give you ear, even for one moment to spiritism; that is only the work of the powers of hell. God only knows what lies in the future. He guides it and from His hand all things come to us. Bow before Him. Tell all your troubles to Him alone, even if only because you are convinced of the truth. He can strengthen you in adversities and give deliverance. Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God. The Lord keep us from forgetting Him in prosperity, and also from setting our hearts on the things of this earth. Submit to His providential government. Many in these days are forsaking God; the future is dark. After the terrible world war, the rumors of war have not been silent for one day. The Indies are full of turmoil; our sons and young men are far from home, exposed day by day to the greatest dangers. What shall be the end? Consult God's Word that tells you what shall happen when the seals are opened and the trumpets are sounded and the vials are poured out. The world by its sins, is making itself ripe for the judgments that shall certainly come, yea, for the final judgment which is coming nearer and nearer. Away with all your insurances! Seek refuge in the cleft of the rock and all shall be well for time and eternity. Can money and possessions make you happy? The world passes away and the lust thereof. Remember the word spoken by a god fearing mother to her son, "Do not rejoice too much in prosperity, nor grieve too much in adversity." Above all, the Lord grant you heart-renewing grace to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things for which your nature takes so much care, will be added unto you. Do not despise the poor people of God. Although not many rich and not many nobles are called, still God's people have, even in this life, something that the world lacks. The little they receive is given to them from the right hand of the Father, it is sanctified by the meritorious work of Christ. Oh, if in the exercise of grace they may embrace something of it, they despise the whole world, saying with Paul, "By whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." So the world was as a crucified one to him as he was such in the eyes of the world. O, people of God, let this be the practice of our life. How the whole world became nothing when the Lord opened the eyes of your soul, when with Moses you considered the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt or the pleasures of sin. Is it still not so, when you feel a little of the love of God in your heart? Alas, how our soul can cleave unto the dust! May the Lord make us more heavenly-minded, that we may seek another fatherland. If many tribulations are your portion, poverty, scorn from your enemy, sadness in your home, secret sorrow due to estrangement between husband and wife because of the name of the Lord, grief from your children, or any other matter, do not let it be too burdensome to you. In the Bible we find examples of the ways of affliction by which God leads His people for His honour and for their profit. He shall not leave you, nor forsake you. He has shown that to you so many times how Christ, the sympathizing High Priest was tempted in all things, sin excepted, so that He can help His people in all things. His people will not always grieve, for He Himself has said, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." All things happen according to God's counsel, but it is a comfort for God's children that the Lord shall guide them with His counsel, and afterward receive them to glory. May the Lord comfort you with that thought. Bear a little longer the oppression and scorn of the world. Let men despise, exclude and trample upon you; soon it shall all be ended, and you shall sing of the deepest ways before the throne of God, Who led you and redeemed you to praise and glorify Him forever. Amen. (continued in part 12...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-02: krhc1-11.txt .