When Christians suffer
WHEN CHRISTIANS SUFFER
By Thomas Case
Banner of Truth. 122 pages. £3.25
What does 17th-century England have to teach us today? Plenty is the answer, having read Richard Rushing’s edited version of Thomas Case’s Treatise on Affliction.
The pocket book starts with a letter to Case when he is in prison written by Thomas Manton, who says: ‘Good sir, be persuaded to publish these discourses: the subject is useful, and your manner of handling it warm and affectionate. Do not deprive the world of the comfort of your experiences’. I’m very glad he took that advice and 350 years later we can also benefit from his food for our souls.
The book is in Banner of Truth’s Pocket Puritan series although I’m not sure what the benefit of it being pocket-sized is as it only takes an hour-and-a-half to read. But I can guarantee it is time well spent and I found myself underlining spiritual gems on virtually every page. There is a slight tendency to dismiss the value of daily work and see the loss of material things as the only life we should seek, but overall this is a book written by someone who knows about suffering and the excellency of Christ. As he says, ‘God has no such obedient children as those whom he nurtures in the school of affliction… Affliction empties us of ourselves, and makes us fly to Jesus Christ for righteousness and strength’.
This book is a bit like a high-quality box of chocolates — it’s split into five sections and each section is divided into bite-sized portions. Section one gives ‘Twenty-One Lessons which God Usually Teaches His People in a Suffering Condition’. The other sections give principles on how God teaches us in afflictions and ends with an exhortation from someone who’s been there in the midst of suffering and can still say: ‘When the God of heaven has famished all our gods on earth, and has starved us of our creature comforts, in any way whatsoever, then we can hunger after and taste the sweetness, the fullness, which is in Christ Jesus. O then, Christ is a King to govern, a Prophet to teach, and a Priest to save! How precious! Give me nothing but Jesus or else I die!’