Tested by Fire: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper and David BrainerdBy: John Piper
Great privilege. Great pain. This is God's way: to take the privilege of faith and strengthen it with real trials so that we worship and witness with a greater passion for God. There is a certain irony to the fruit of affliction. John Bunyan's confinement taught him the pilgrim path of Christian freedom. William Cowper's mental illness yielded sweet music of the mind for troubled souls. David Brainerd's smouldering misery of isolation and disease exploded in global mission beyond all imagination. Irony and disproportion are all God's way. We think we know how to do something big, and God makes it little. We think that all we have is weak and small, and God makes it big. Barren Sarah gives birth to the child of promise. Gideon's three hundred men defeat a hundred thousand Midianites. A slingshot in the hand of a shepherd boy brings the giant down. A virgin bears the Son of God. A boy's five loaves feeds thousands. A breach of justice, grovelling political expediency, and criminal torture on a gruesome cross become the salvation of the world.