Seven Times Hotter: When the Christian Life Meets Adversity
A dear friend of mine gave me a book recently that I have really been struggling to get through. Most of the books that I struggle with are challenging because of language, spiritual precepts, or just the fact that the English they write in isn’t the same English I speak, if you catch my drift. This book is causing a different kind of struggle: it convicts the stew out of me.
It’s called Singing in the Fire by Faith Cook and is published by Banner of Truth. They have a tendency to put out books that challenge. The phrase comes from a piece of writing by Susanna Spurgeon, wife of famed preacher and author Charles Spurgeon:
When the fire of affliction draws songs of praise from us, then indeed we are purified, and our God is glorified…Singing in the fire! Yes! God helping us, if that is the only way to get harmony out of these hard apathetic hearts, let the furnace be heated seven times hotter than before. – Susannah Spurgeon
What is so challenging about it this book? It makes me come face to face with Christians who put it all on the line: health, wealth, happiness, prosperity, and for some, their lives. These brothers and sisters placed everything they had in the hands of God, and sometimes, He kept it all. Reading these stories makes me feel soft as a Christian, and I believe that is the point, because when I think of facing adversity, I clearly have a limited view.
Just what is adversity? It can mean many different things. It can be persecution, illness, the death of a loved one, or just hard situations. In today’s PC culture, American Christians face adversity in the form of a lawyer, while our brothers and sisters in Christ all around the world face a much different form of adversity in that they are still being martyred for their faith, even today.
The stories we have of saints that have gone on to glory are both inspiring and instructive. Through their suffering, today’s Christians are encouraged as we see religious persecution ratcheting up all over the world and even here in the United States. How amazing it is to comprehend God’s sovereignty through the suffering of the saints!
It should also bring our attention to this astonishing thought: What will future believers say about this generation’s Christians? Will they say that we were the generation who continued to allow millions of babies to be murdered each and every year in this country? Will they say that we were the ones that allowed the Word of God to continue to be mocked without response in the public square? Will they say that we did nothing as those around us marched headlong into eternity willfully ignoring the Lamb who was slain? What will they say brothers and sisters?
Now I, once blessed by favoured years,
Must tread a path of pain and tears;
Yet with reluctant stubborn heart
Content against God’s ways,
Until the fires of suffering draw
A hymn of faith not heard before
From out the seven-fold blaze;
So let my God be glorified,
My sinning soul be purified-
A sacrifice of praise. Faith Cook