The Bible contains many truths from which we can draw comfort in times of trouble. But there is one fountain that believers might not think to draw peace from during their trials: the doctrine of predestination.
The doctrine of predestination teaches that God is absolutely sovereign and that He brings all things to pass according to His perfect will. This is not a theological concept merely concerned with salvation. Rather, we find that there is great comfort to be had in the midst of affliction by considering God’s sovereign control during times of difficulty.
Consider the below words of Jerome Zanchius (Girolamo Zanchi), an Italian minister and theologian who lived from 1516 to 1590.1 May these reminders be a comfort to you in the midst of distress.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. – Romans 8:28-29
Without a due sense of predestination, we shall lack the surest and the most powerful inducement to patience, resignation, and dependence on God under every spiritual and temporal affliction.
How sweet must the following considerations be to a distressed believer!
1. There most certainly exists an almighty, all-wise, and infinitely gracious God (Heb 11:6).
2. He has given me in times past and is giving me at present (if I had but eyes to see it) many signal intimations of His love to me, both in a way of providence and grace (Eph 1).
3. This love of His is immutable.2 He never repents of it nor withdraws it (Phil 1:6).
4. Whatever comes to pass in time is the result of His will from everlasting (1 Cor 8:6), consequently—
5. My afflictions were a part of His original plan and are all ordered in number, weight, and measure (Psalm 22:24).
6. The very hairs of my head (every one) are counted by Him; nor can a single hair fall to the ground but in consequence of His determination (Luke 12:7). Hence—
7. My distresses are not the result of chance, accident, or a fortuitous combination of circumstances (Psalm 56:8), but—
8. My distresses are the providential accomplishment of God’s purpose (Rom 8:28), and—
9. My distresses are designed to answer some wise and gracious ends (James 5:10-11), and—
10. My affliction shall not continue a moment longer than God sees fit (2 Cor. 7:6-7).
11. He Who brought me to it has promised to support me under it and to carry me through it (Psalm 34:15-17).
12. All shall most assuredly work together for His glory and my good, therefore—
13. “The cup which my heavenly Father hath given me to drink, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11).
Yes, I will, in the strength He imparts, even rejoice in tribulation. Using the means of possible redress,3 which He hath or may hereafter put into my hands, I will commit myself and the event to Him, Whose purpose cannot be overthrown, Whose plan cannot be disconcerted, and Who, whether I am resigned or not, will still go on to work all things after the counsel of His own will (Rom 5:3-6; Psalm 33:11-12; Eph 1:11).
Above all, when the suffering Christian takes his election into the account and knows that he was by an eternal and immutable act of God appointed to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ; that, of course, he hath a city prepared for him above, a building of God, a house not made with hands, but eternal in the heavens; and that the heaviest sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in the saints—what adversity can possibly befall us, which the assured hope of blessings like these will not infinitely overbalance (Prov. 8:35; 2 Cor 5:1; Rom 8:18; Rom 8:33-37)?
However keenly afflictions might wound us on their first access, yet under the impression of such animating views we should quickly come to ourselves again; and the arrows of tribulation would in great measure lose their sharpness. Christians lack nothing but absolute resignation to render them perfectly happy in every possible circumstance; and absolute resignation can only flow from an absolute belief of, and an absolute acquiescence4 in, God’s absolute providence, founded on absolute predestination (1 Thess 1:2-4).
1 This selection from Zanchius is available as a free tract from Chapel Library
2 The doctrine of immutability speaks of the unchangeableness of God
3 A remedy to set something right
4 Acceptance without protest