When Deliverance is Deferred
“And the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered for a little while, perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10 (NASB)
As a supplement to last Sunday morning’s sermon entitled “Jesus Your Healer” (Matthew 14: 34-36) please note the following important considerations, which I have re-written from their original author for your ease of comprehension:
Question: How may a distressed believer be comforted when the Lord defers deliverance from suffering? The English Puritan William Perkins offers three points to be considered:
a) In general, God has in his wisdom set down certain and unchangeable times for the accomplishment of all things." There is a time appointed to everything under the sun" Ecclesiastes 3:1. God has decreed a time for healing and a time for suffering, and his eternal decree is all-comprehensive and unalterable.
b) We must not only believe the promises of God to deliver us in general, but we must believe that God is true and faithful regarding his particular promises, that he is able and willing to fulfill each promise to us at the proper time, by the proper means, and in the proper circumstances. For example, God through his prophet promised Israel deliverance from Babylonian captivity after 70 years (Jer 25:11). No amount of fervent prayer could change that decree. But at the set time of the fruition of that particular promise Daniel commenced to pray for Israel’s deliverance and was heard (Dan 5:30).
When God defers deliverance to his saints from suffering he does so because of great and weighty considerations best known to himself. For example:
a) That he might humble man thoroughly and bring them to an utter denial of themselves, and cause them to learn patience in affliction, which they would not learn if they were to obtain a speedy deliverance from their troubles at their own wills and pleasures.
b) That being afflicted they may acknowledge from where their deliverance comes, that is, only from the Lord, and that they may learn to value and prize God’s gifts. Benefits easily obtained are lightly regarded and sooner forgotten.
c) By their continuing in suffering without intermission he may make them to distaste the world, and consequently draw them to the meditation of the life to come, when “he will wipe away every tear from their eyes…neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore.” (Rev 21:4.)
d) The Lord defers deliverance from affliction so that he might prevent greater evils and dangers into which those who are afflicted might run if they had their own heart’s desire. Example: Although God gave the land to Israel as an inheritance, a remnant of their Canaanite enemies were allowed to remain in the Promised Land at the time of Joshua in order to prevent wild beasts from multiplying and thereby troubling God’s people (Deut 7: 22).
God has always exercised his best servants with long and continued crosses.
For example: Abraham was childless until he was 70 years of age, and at those years the Lord promised him a son. But this promise was not accomplished until a long time after, when he was 100 years old. David was promised kingship while still young but endured many years of painful trial and exile before being crowned. Zachariah and Elizabeth had prayed to God from their youth and for many years after for a child, but the Lord did not grant their request until they were old. (Luke1:13).
Covenant Presbyterian Church