We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance. – Romans 5:3
It is as much our interest as it is our duty to be awakened out of our pleasant but most pernicious drowsiness. Troubles will be so much more sinking and intolerable if they take us by surprise. Just as expectation spoils earthly comforts by sucking out much of its sweetness beforehand so that we find less in it when we come to the actual enjoyment, so the expectation of suffering eases much of the dread and terror by accustoming our thoughts beforehand and making preparation for them. If prepared, we do not find suffering so grievous, overwhelming, and intolerable when it does come.
It is not the design of this book to frighten anyone with imaginary dangers, much less to sow jealousies or stir up discontentment for the times. But, it is lamentable that the tokens of God’s anger produce in most of us no fruit other than bold censures and loud clamors rather than humiliation for our own sins and the due preparation to take up our own cross and follow Christ in His suffering. The only goal of this book is to provide a better understand of the purpose and function of suffering for the sake of Christ. Should we not be of those who sincerely resolve and prepare to be followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:12) and take them for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience (James 5:10)?
About the Author
John Flavel (c.1628-1691) was born into an England wracked by political, social, and religious upheaval. Two civil wars and unstable leadership framed the political landscape. Economic hardships and a resurgence of plague further distressed the nation. The church, too, was in turmoil. Flavel, a pastor of one of the many independent churches persecuted by the government, was forced from his church in Dartmouth. In secret and under stress, he continued preaching, writing, and shepherding his flock. He suffered the death of three of his four wives and at least one child. He continued preaching until his sudden death in 1691.