Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Adversity, The Teacher

Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. (Psalm 119.67, 71)

Jeremiah Burroughs, Moses His Choice, With His Eye Fixed Upon Heaven, p. 53:

They that are afflicted, do better understand Scripture, says Luther, but those who are secure in their prosperity, read them as a verse in Ovid.

Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, p. 90:

They that are in adversity, saith Luther, do best understand the Scriptures; but those that in prosperity, read them as a verse in Ovid.

Mary Rowlandson, British-born settler in colonial Massachusetts, was taken captive during the King Philip's War. Her account is told in the autobiogaphical The Narrative of the Captivity and the Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson. During one period of her experience, the "Fifteenth Remove," she wrote about her hunger during the forced march, and takes note of how affliction enables us to take special note of the Scriptures.

And after I was thoroughly hungry, I was never again satisfied. For though sometimes it fell out, that I got enough, and did eat till I could eat no more, yet I was as unsatisfied as I was when I began. And now could I see that Scripture verified (there being many Scriptures which we do not take notice of, or understand till we are afflicted) "Thou shalt eat and not be satisfied" (Micah 6.14). Now might I see more than ever before, the miseries that sin hath brought upon us. Many times I should be ready to run against the heathen, but the Scripture would quiet me again, "Shall there be evil in a City and the Lord hath not done it?" (Amos 3.6). The Lord help me to make a right improvement of His word, and that I might learn that great lesson: "He hath showed thee (Oh Man) what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God? Hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it" (Micah 6.8-9).


  1. Wonderful pastoral advice from the Puritans!

  2. May God grant us grace to remember this when we are feeling afflicted.