by Thomas Watson
God's own people often suffer great afflictions.
"This is what the wicked are like—always carefree, they increase in wealth. Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. For I am afflicted all day long!" Psalm 73:12-14
How can this be consistent with God's justice?
'God's ways of judgment are sometimes secret, but never unjust!' The Lord never afflicts His people without a cause; He cannot be unjust towards them.
There is some good in the godly—therefore the wicked afflict them; there is some evil in them—therefore God afflicts them!
God's own children have their blemishes. "But aren't you also guilty of sins against the Lord your God?" 2 Chr. 28:10. These spiritual diamonds—have they no flaws? Do we not read of the spots of God's children? Are not they guilty of much pride, passion, worldliness? Though, by their profession, they should resemble the birds of paradise, to fly above, and feed upon the dew of heaven; yet, as the serpent, they often lick the dust!
The sins of God's people, do more provoke God than the sins of others. "The Lord saw this and was filled with loathing. He was provoked to anger by His own sons and daughters." Deut 32:19. The sins of others pierce Christ's side; the sins of His people wound His heart! Therefore is not God just in all the afflictions which befall them? "You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins." Amos 3:2. I will punish you sooner, surer, sorer—than others.
The trials and sufferings of the godly, are to refine and purify them. God's furnace is in Zion. Is it any injustice in God to put His gold into the furnace to purify it? Is it any injustice in God, by afflicting His people, to make them partakers of His holiness? What more proclaims God's faithfulness—than to take such a course with them as may make them more holy?
"I know, O Lord, that Your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness You have afflicted me." Psalm 119:75