Testing Times.

The seasons all have their turn. First, we see the spring-time with its buds and blossoms and its signs of life and growth on every side; then comes the genial summer with its warmth and sunny days, bringing on and ripening the fruits of the earth; autumn with its dry and withering leaves, sees the completion of the ingathering of the harvest; while dreary winter follows, laying its icy-cold hand upon everything.

Assemblies of God’s people have their seasons in like manner. It is not always spring and summer, or even autumn; there comes also wintry experiences which will test the soul severely. How lovely is a company of saints in the joy of their first love, and progressing in testimony and fruit-bearing till summer has come. They are like “gardens by the river’s side, as the trees of lign aloes which the Lord hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters” (Num. 24:6).

“Tongue can never express
The sweet comfort and peace
Of a soul in its earliest love!”

Wherever God does a work, Satan with his utmost power and subtility seeks to mar that work, and if possible destroy it. Opposition from without never succeeds like trouble within; the former will weld the saints together, the latter will tear them asunder and weaken them. We may wonder why the Lord permits a testing time to come upon us; but He has in view the refining of gold and the purging away of our dross. Difficulties will arise, with perplexity how to act. Unpleasantnesses come in, roots of bitterness spring up unexpectedly, no sooner one trouble is past than another arises. Some believers become estranged from their brethren, and may even leave the Assembly; a chilling air seems to pervade the atmosphere, freshness and warmth are gone, and saints are losing interest in the meetings.

When such a wintry season has set in, the one thing needful is to put on warm clothes which God has provided. They are these: Bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearance, forgiveness, love, peace, thankfulness, Word of Christ dwelling richly, singing with grace, doing all things in the name of the Lord. Read Col. 3:12-17. In due time the spring will return, with all its abundant signs of charming new life and growth, and we shall be able to say, “Lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come!” (S. of S. 2:11-12).