J. B. Stoney.
The circumstances in which we learn most are those which most expose our weaknesses. As a rule we are placed in circumstances which demand that which we are most defective in. We are set in such and such situations, not because we can handle them, or behave in them better than anyone else; but on the contrary, because we need to be invigorated by grace in the defects which they are fitted to expose. They disclose to us where we need grace, so that constantly we are failing where we are expected to excel. We are put there to cast us on the Lord, and to teach us that we can do nothing of ourselves.
If we could excel there, we should glory in our success, but when we find that we are placed in the very circumstances that, perhaps, more than any others expose our weakness, we then see that we have no hope of being able to stand or succeed, unless we obtain grace to do so. I am not placed where I could excel most, but subjected to those difficulties in which I can best know my need of grace, and best learn dependence.
If I could get on without grace, I should grow elated with myself. But when I find that unless the Lord maintains me I shall surely fail, then I am humbled as to myself while at the same time deepened in dependence which the demand of my circumstances has, in a way, forced on me; and having learned the blessing of dependence, instead of regretting the difficulties which made it necessary to seek help, I am the more cheered and encouraged to go on in them.
For learning or service every one is placed where there is demand on him. The boy at school is not in the easy circumstances of home or the playground. The horse in harness is not in the ease of being in the stable or at grass.
The situations we are subjected to are the ones in which we can best learn and be most useful. It is not because we have nothing to learn or nothing to do for others. If we had naught to learn, there would be no difficulty in the lessons required of us every day. The fact that there is difficulty in them proves that we are not proficient, and that it is necessary that we should be subjected to that which discloses to us what we require to learn, or to draw from us what we can render.
Your weakness is exposed that you may acquire strength, and having received of the Lord, you will then be called on to render unto others — to comfort others, as you have been comforted of God; so that whether learner or servant, you are always set in circumstances where there is exaction, and not ease. If the learner were to keep at the same lesson always he might feel his difficulty over, but so would his learning be over.
Are you learning? Are you useful? Whenever you are either, you will find that you are in exacting circumstances, and therefore not those where you are most at home and at your ease; but the more you turn them to profit, the more you are learning of grace, and the more useful you are in sharing what you have acquired.