if we are faithless, he remains faithful — for he cannot deny himself. 2 Timothy 2:13
In affliction, God makes himself known to his people. In the Word we hear of God, but in affliction we see him. Prosperity is the nurse of atheism. When we are prosperous the sense of God is little by little defaced. In affliction the soul is freed from the attractive power of worldly allurements and our thoughts are more serious, clear and capable of divine illumination The clearer the lass is, the more fully it receives the beams of light. The wicked in the pride of his heart will not know God. ‘Who is the Lord?’ said Pharaoh. Even the godly are low in their apprehensions of God, but by the rod of correction he makes his people know him, to their comfort. He so lays affliction upon his people, that they may know him in the way of love. Moses never saw God so clearly as when he descended in the cloud, and that became a type of the method God uses to make himself known to his saints. He puts them in the cleft of the rock and reveals his name to them: the Lord God, merciful and gracious. God’s people become aware of his attributes in their sufferings: his holiness, justice, faithfulness, mercy, and all-sufficiency. The more David was afflicted, the more God’s faithfulness appeared. The faithfulness of God is best experienced in our sufferings because in them we are most prayerful. When our older brother Esau is upon us, we must wrestle with our elder brother Jesus and not let him go until he blesses us. In adversity we are early with God in prayer. In prosperity we pray and hardly take notice of the answers. But in affliction we can press God for the return of our prayers. God is never worse than his word. Affliction is a furnace to try the faith of God’s people and to see God’s faithfulness in his promises.
Sinclair Ferguson has publicly stated that no one has had a greater spiritual impact on his life than William Still! William Still was the minister of Gilcomston South Church, Aberdeen, from 1945 to 1997. While his name may not feature in the official annals of the Church of Scotland, it is doubtful whether any other individual in his Church during the latter half of the twentieth century had such a profound or widespread influence. For over fifty years Mr. Still pioneered a single-minded commitment to expository preaching and congregational prayer which made Gilcomston a beacon of Reformed and evangelical Christianity in Scotland.
A man whose very life breathed the grace and love of God, no one who ever met him, received his counsel, or sat under his ministry, could have escaped the sheer Christlikeness of Mr. Still’s life. In the early days of his ministry he wrote: “There is no part of me, or of my life, that I will withhold from the work that God has called me to.”
It was one of the marks of his evident commitment to the service of Christ that he devoted himself to the pastoral care of his people, providing them with daily Bible reading notes that would feed their souls and prepare them for works of service. The “Notes”, which appeared in the monthly “Congregational Record,” soon became highly sought after across Scotland, the United Kingdom, and even to the far-flung corners of the world, increasing in many a love for and commitment to the Word of God.
Drawn from every book in the Bible, this selection, edited and arranged by David C. Searle, will take the reader through the year with William Still. These pages will explain what it means to live under the authority of Scripture, to exalt the glorious Person of Christ, and to rejoice in the wonder of the gospel.