Faith is a grace which draws down from Heaven whatever blessing of God is most needful to the saint, and therefore does it stand him in as good stead in the night of adversity as in the day of prosperity. Faith is a new-creation principle in the soul, which not only energizes its possessor to perform exploits, but it also enables him to hold his head above the dark waters when floods threaten to drown him. Faith suffices the Christian to face danger calmly, to continue steadfast in duty when menaced by the most foreboding outlook, to stand his ground when threatened with sorest sufferings. Faith imparts a steadfastness of purpose, a noble courage, a tranquility of mind, which no human education or fleshly efforts can supply. Faith makes the righteous as bold as a lion, refusing to recant though horrible tortures and a martyr’s death be the only alternative.
Faith gives its possessor patience under adversities, for by faith he sees them in a scriptural light and bears them by the enabling strength of Christ. How good and profitable is a sanctified affliction, but then only is it sanctified to us when faith is “mixed with” it. When faith is not in exercise, the heart is occupied with the things which are seen and temporal: only the creature’s hand or the creature’s treachery is viewed, and peevishness and resentment prevail; or worse still, we are tempted to entertain hard thoughts against God, and to say “the Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” But when the Spirit renews us in the inner man, and faith becomes active again, how differently do things then appear! Then we take ourselves to task and say, “Why art thou cast down O my soul, hope thou in God.”
It belongs entirely unto the sovereign pleasure of God to order and dispose the outward conditions through which His Church passes upon earth; seasons of prosperity and times of adversity are regulated by Him as He deems best. Eras of peace and security and eras of persecution and peril are interchangeable, like day and night, summer and winter. Yet God does not act arbitrarily. It was not until after Abraham left Bethel and its altar, and journeyed southward (Egypt-wards) that there arose a famine in the land (Gen. 12:8-10). It was only when Israel “forsook the Lord God of their father… and followed other gods,” that His anger was kindled against them, and “He delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and He sold them into the hands of their enemies round about” (Judg. 2:11-14). It was only when men “slept” that He suffered the Enemy to sow “tares” among the wheat (Matthew 13:25). It was after Ephesus left her “first love” that the Smyrnean era of persecution was experienced (Rev. 2:4 and 9, 10). And it is because so many of the professing servants of God repudiated His law during the previous generation, that we are now plagued with a reign of lawlessness in the church, home, and state.
God will not be mocked, and in His righteous government He visits the iniquities of the fathers upon their children, and hence it is that seasons of prosperity are followed by seasons of adversity. Yet during these seasons of adversity, whether they take the form of spiritual dearth or of physical peril, the godly remnant who sigh and cry because of the abominations which are found in what are termed the public “places of worship,” or who meekly endure the persecutions of hypocritical professors or of the openly ungodly world, are no less acceptable with God, and are as precious in His sight as those whose lot was previously cast in times of the greatest earthly felicity.
The darker the night, the more evident the few stars twinkling between the clouds. The more awful be the state of professing Christendom as a whole, the more suitable is the background for the children of God to display their colors. The fiercer be the opposition made against a spiritual faith, the grander the opportunity for bringing forth its choicest fruit. There is no higher aspect of faith than that which brings the heart to patiently submit unto whatever God sends us, to meekly acquiesce unto His sovereign will, to say “the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11). Oftentimes the faith which suffers is greater than the faith that can boast an open triumph. “Love beareth all things” (1 Cor. 13:7), and faith when it reaches the pinnacle of attainment declares, “though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”
— A.W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, Chapter Eighty