Of all the topics we've written about during the first quarter-century of SMI's existence, one that always generates unusual levels of feedback is that of trusting God during difficult circumstances.

That might seem strange, given our emphasis on financial and investing topics. Chalk it up to the universal human condition — we all go through trials.

When we hear the response of our readers to those articles, it always reminds us that there are more folks dealing with challenging issues at any particular time than we realize. Many are financial matters, but many others are relational or health-related. When such challenges come, it's good to be reminded of something we already know — that our God is faithful. As the saying goes: Life is hard, but God is good.

All this came to mind during my quiet time as I was reading a book my wife Susie gave me, The Roots of Endurance by John Piper. In writing about the life of John Newton, reformed slave trader, pastor, and author of the hymn "Amazing Grace," Piper gives us this strengthening reminder to give thanks for our blessings and keep our eyes on an eternity we'll be spending in the glorious company of our heavenly Father:

Newton's language was permeated by concreteness. Most of us tend to gravitate to abstractions. We say, "Men are foolish to fret so much over material things when they will inherit eternal riches." But Newton says:

"Suppose a man was going to New York to take possession of a large estate, and his [carriage] should break down a mile before he got to the city, which obliged him to walk the rest of the way; what a fool we should think him, if we saw him wringing his hands, and blubbering out all the remaining mile, 'My [carriage] is broken! My [carriage] is broken!'"…

In order to maintain love and tenderness that thinks more about the other person's need than our own comforts, we must have an unshakeable hope that the sadness of our lives will work for our everlasting good.… Newton found this peace and confidence in the all-governing providence of God over good and evil. He describes his own experience when he describes the believer:

"And his faith upholds him under all trials, by assuring him that every dispensation is under the direction of his Lord; that chastisements are a token of His love; that the season, measure, and continuance of his sufferings, are appointed by Infinite Wisdom, and designed to work for his everlasting good; and that grace and strength shall be afforded him, according to his day."

This keeps him from being overwhelmed with anger and bitterness and resentment when he is assaulted with pressures and disappointments.… 

John Newton's habitual tenderness is rooted in the sober realism of the limits of redemption in this fallen world where we "groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for…the redemption of our bodies" (Romans 8:23), the all-pervasive humility and gratitude for having been a blasphemer of the Gospel and now being a heaven-bound preacher of it, and the unshakeable confidence that the all-governing providence of God will make every experience turn for his good, so that he doesn't spend his life murmuring, "My carriage is broken, my carriage is broken," but sings, "'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home."