Here are a few guidelines that the Puritans provide us with for using God’s promises in Christ while encountering affliction:
1. Choose some verses that speak of Christ’s assurance of His presence and protection in trials and meditate on them so that you will not be at a loss for support and comfort when hard times come. In this way, you will prepare your heart for trials and will not be surprised when they come.
2. Do not just assent to God’s promises in Christ; take them in hand and lean upon them, like elderly people lean on their canes. Andrew Gray says: “As you would not destroy your own souls, be much in making use and application of the promises. Are not the promises your life? Did not all the saints that went to heaven before us, go to heaven living upon the promises?”
3. Remember that Christ promises to uphold and sustain you in afflictions (Pss. 9:9; 37:4, 39–40) and also that His abundant comforts will shatter your troubles as light shatters the darkness (Ps. 112:4; Mic. 7:8–9; 2 Cor. 1:5).
4. A lively faith in God’s promises in Christ will help you exercise patience in affliction. As Gray writes: “If you would inquire of faith in the midnight of your affliction, what is its opinion of God and of your own estate, it would sweetly answer you thus: ‘Wait upon God for I shall yet praise Him. If it seems slow, wait for it; comfort and relief will surely come; it will not delay.’”
5. Go to the Lord in your affliction and say: “Lord, it is part of thy covenant to deliver me from such a cross and calamity; Thou hast said that the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous; that Thou wilt afflict, but in measure, according to our strength, and for our good. O sanctify Thy hand unto me, give me faith and patience to wait upon Thee, wisdom to make a good use of this chastisement; let it purge me from my dross, and breed the quiet fruit of righteousness.”
6. Let your afflictions drive you to greater fellowship and communion with Christ. Let affliction make you seek out God’s promises, and let those promises stir up your faith. Then let your faith lead you to prayer, for in your prayer you will find Christ (Jer. 29:10–14; Mic. 7:7).
7. Plead in your prayers the hope that God’s promises offer you in affliction, not asking when you will be delivered from your trial but what your trial is meant to deliver to you. Since the Lord has sent it for your good, pray for it to be sanctified to you, to work healing in you, to be remedial in its effect, and to be a cause of rejoicing both in the midst of it and when you come to the other side of it.
How Should We Consider Christ in Affliction?
By Joel Beeke