In 1737 the great Puritan Thomas Boston published a treatise on affliction called The Crook in the Lot (which Christian Focus republished several times in a nice booklet). Below is a section I appreciated that explains one great “use” of the crook in the lot (that is, affliction in the Christian’s “lot,” or life). I’ve edited it to make it easier to read.
“The truth is that the crook in the lot (affliction) is the great engine of Providence for making men appear in their true colors, discovering both their weaknesses and strengths. And if the grace of God is in a person, the crook will bring it out and cause it to display itself. Affliction does put the Christian under a heavy burden, so that he staggers under it for a while, but in time it will show the reality and strength of grace in him (1 Peter 1:6-7).”
“The crook in the lot gives rise to many acts of faith, hope, love, self-denial, resignation, and other graces. It gives rise to many heavenly sighs, groanings, and prayers which otherwise would not be made to God. These graces most certainly are more precious to God than we are aware of, even though unbelievers think they are worthless. These graces that the crook in the lot gives rise to are part of our spiritual worship. In the long run, these graces pressed out by affliction will become evident even though the one being afflicted might think of them as insignificant.”
“The unified and steady movement of cavalry and infantry to destroy the enemy is prized, but the acting of holy fear and humble hope is far more valuable in the sight of God, whose judgement is truth. As the Psalmist says, ‘He does not delight in the strength of the horse, nor does he take pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord takes pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy’ (Ps. 147: 10-11).”
Those are beautiful words that reflect God’s sovereign love for his people in and through affliction and suffering. A Christian’s trial is not pointless; our suffering is not meaningless. God – as our Father in Christ – sends us affliction for several reasons. One great reason God gives Christians a “crook in the lot” is to sanctify us by cultivating the precious fruit of the Spirit in us and causing us to cry out to him in prayer more and more. Indeed, as Job said, “When he has tried me, I shall come out as gold” (Job 23.10).
(By the way, though The Crook in the Lot is outstanding, it is not easy to read. I’d only recommend it if you’re familiar with Puritan writings and/or if you’re familiar with very old English – or if you want an end of summer reading challenge!)
3 Replies to “One Great Blessing of Affliction”
This is Robyn’s all time favorite. It has helped bring her through many hard trials.
He being dead yets speaks.
Thanks for the comment, Steve (I fixed your minor typo). I’ll have to read this one a few times to mine all the gold in it! Right now I have a few key sections highlighted that have already brought much comfort in affliction.
” The Crook in the Lot” is excellent! I think it was one of the first Puritan works I ever read. Yes, Shane, it is hard to read, but very worthwhile. In fact, some of my favorites are by the Puritans. For anyone who might have trouble with the Old English, it’s really worth getting used to. The Puritans lived and breathed the Word of God, and it’s difficult to find any today to compare them with.
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