See how the righteous are cast down. How often is virtue dressed in the rags of poverty! How frequently is the most pious spirit made to suffer from hunger, and thirst, and nakedness! We have sometimes heard the Christian say, when he has contemplated these things, “Surely, I have served God in vain; it is for nothing that I have chastened myself every morning and vexed my soul with fasting; for lo, God hath cast me down, and he lifteth up the sinner. How can this be?” The wise of the heathen could not answer this question, and they therefore adopted the expedient of cutting the intricate knot. “We cannot tell how it is,” they might have said; therefore they flew at the fact itself, and denied it. “The man that prospers is favoured of the gods; the man who is unsuccessful is obnoxious to the Most High.” So said the heathen, and they knew no better. Those more enlightened people who talked with Job in the days of his affliction, did not get much further; for they believed that all who served God would have a hedge about them; God would multiply their wealth and increase their happiness; while they saw in Job’s affliction, as they conceived, a certain sign that he was a hypocrite, and, therefore God had quenched his candle and put out his light in darkness. And alas! Even Christians have fallen into the same error. They have been apt to think that if God lifts a man up, there must be some excellence in him; and if he chastens and afflicts, they are generally led to think that it must be an exhibition of wrath. Now hear the text, and the riddle is all made clear; listen to the words of Jesus, speaking to his servant John, and the mystery is solved. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
For meditation: God is good to his children, both providing for them and disciplining them (Deuteronomy 8:1-5). Teachings such as the “Prosperity Gospel” and “Healing being in the Atonement” miss the point that such blessings are guaranteed to the believer only in the Glory (Revelation 21:3-7).