Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879), the daughter of a Church of England minister, is well known for her great hymns of consecration including the famous Take My Life and Let It Be. It is not well known that she also wrote devotional materials, and an explication of the aforementioned hymn which was published posthumously. From her devotional book entitled Royal Bounty, we have chosen a selection which we trust will speak to your heart. “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”—Heb. 12:11 There are some promises which we are apt to reserve for great occasions, and thus lose the continual comfort of them. Perhaps we read this one with a sigh, and say: “How beautiful this is for those whom the Lord is really chastening! I almost think I should not mind that, if such a promise might then be mine. But the things that try me are only little things that turn up every day to trouble and depress me.” Well, now, does the Lord specify what degree of trouble, or what kind of trouble, is great enough to make up a claim to the promise? And if He does not, why should you? He only defines it as “not joyous, but grievous.” Perhaps there have been a dozen different things today which were “not joyous, but grievous” to you. And though you feel ashamed of feeling them so much, and hardly like to own to their having been so trying, and would not think of signifying them as “chastening,” yet, if they come under the Lord’s definition, He not only knows all about them, but they were, every one of them, chastenings from His hand; neither to be despised and called “just nothing” when all the while they did “grieve” you; nor to be wearied of; because they are working out blessing to you and glory to Him. Every one of them has been an unrecognized token of His love and interest in you; for “whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth.” (Heb. 12:6) Next, do not let us reserve this promise for chastenings in the aggregate. Notice the singular pronoun, “Nevertheless, afterward IT yieldeth,” not “they yield.” Does not this indicate that every separate chastening has its own special “afterward”? We think of trials as intended to do us good in the long-run, and in a general sort of way; but the Lord says of each one, “It yieldeth.” Apply this to “the present.” The particular annoyance which befell you this morning; the vexatious words which met your ear and “grieved” your spirit; the disappointment which was His appointment for today; the slight but hindering ailment; the presence of someone who is “a grief of mind” to you; whatever this day seemeth not joyous, but grievous, is linked in “the good pleasure of His goodness,” with a corresponding afterward of “peaceable fruit”; the very seed from which, if you only do not choke it, this shall spring and ripen. If we set ourselves to watch the Lord’s dealings with us, we shall often be able to detect a most beautiful correspondence and proportion between each individual “chastening” and its own resulting “afterward”. The habit of thus watching and expecting will be very comforting, and a great help to quiet trust when some new chastening is sent: for then we shall simply consider it as the herald and earnest of a new “afterward”. Lastly, do not let us reserve this promise for some far future time. The Lord did not say “a long while afterward”, and do not let us gratuitously insert it. It rather implies that, as soon as the chastening is over, the peaceable fruit shall appear unto the glory and praise of God. So let us look out for the “afterward” as soon as the pressure is past. This immediate expectation will bring its own blessing if we can say, “My expectation is from Him” (Ps. 62:5), and not from any fruit-bearing qualities of our own; for only “from Me is thy fruit found”. (Hos. 14:8) Fruit from Him will also be fruit unto Him. What shall Thine afterward be, O Lord? I wonder, and wait to see (While to Thy chastening hand I bow) What peaceable fruit may be ripening now, Ripening fast for Thee!
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