The Hidden Smile of God through the years.

I want to tell you about a great book and the impact it has had on my life.
There is a great book on the fruit of affliction and suffering called The Hidden Smile of God.  You can download a free copy of the book by clicking HERE.
With Pastor Duke's recent sermons on suffering (Suffering is the Pathway to Glorification The Weight and (Wait) of Glory) Jim Soss and Lyle Fortney's testimony video and EBC's upcoming "God Healing for Life's Losses" conference,   I have been thinking about suffering and the glory of God.  When I think about this topic, I am reminded of The Hidden Smile of God.

First of all I want to let you know about the book.  So I took some quotes from the Desiring God website.
Bunyan. Cowper. Brainerd.
John Bunyan suffered long-term imprisonment, even when a simple promise to cease preaching would have freed him, and he was moved to rely on God even more. Despite month after month of debilitating depression, William Cowper’s poetry reflected the sustaining character of God and led him to worship more deeply. David Brainerd so desired to honor God that, through the loneliness of wilderness ministry and the agony of tuberculosis, he pressed on, transforming world missions forever.
For John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd, the loving purpose of God in pain was one of the most precious truths in the Bible and one of the most powerful experiences of their lives.
Now let me tell you some personal stories in how God has used The Hidden Smile of God in my life to remind me of God's glory in the midst of suffering.
I received my FIRST copy of The Hidden of Smile of God almost 15 years ago.  I don't remember the exact date I received many books BUT this one I do.  It was September 11, 2001.  I was teaching in the Dominican Republic.  We received mail once a week, on Tuesdays.  The pilots who brought us our mail had to stay in the Dominican Republic because flights were cancelled.  I remember receiving this book on suffering from my brother-in-law on one of the biggest days of suffering in my lifetime.  Seeing the news stories.  Wondering what was happening.  We taught students from all over the world.  The Dominican Republic, South Korea, Germany, Italy and Canada.  Many of them came to school to let us know that they loved us and our country and they wanted to help us if needed.  It was hard to process everything going on, especially being outside of the United States but God used this book of biographies to help me think through suffering and God's glory.
Spring ahead about four years.  Christmas, 2005.  The mercury fire at Emmanuel Christian School.  A couple of students vandalized the school where I taught.  This resulted in a fire that "mercurized" - a word made up by that year's senior class - the high school.  Krista and I lived in a small apartment so I had all of my books including my FIRST gift copy of The Hidden Smile of God in my classroom.  My books were in my classroom with no obvious damage but they were "mercurized."  Unusable.  I saw all of my books and other classroom things on a video but would not be able to have any of it.  I lost my September 11th copy of The Hidden Smile of God along with so many other precious items like a file of encouraging notes from friends and family.  What was especially hard was there were many notes from a good friend of ours in the Dominican Republic - Heidi Goodbar, a creative, artistic, encouraging co-teacher who died from cancer.
Someone suggested that I write Desiring God about the fire and losing several books, including The Hidden Smile of God.  I did and they blessed me by sending me the books I lost in the fire along with a couple of other books.  So I received my SECOND copy of the book.  It was not signed by my brother-in-law and it wasn't received on the day of a national tragedy.  Another blessing during this time was watching Bob Flamm, the teachers and the students work together that second semester to finish the year well despite very challenging circumstances.
As I think about my SECOND copy of The Hidden Smile of God and as I think about Jim Soss, Lyle Fortney, Heidi Goodbar, and many others who have suffered or are suffering through the circumstances of life, I am so thankful for the Hidden Smile of God, not Piper's book but rather God's providence written about in William Cowper's hymn "God moves in a mysterious way."
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will. 
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head. 
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face. 
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower. 
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
For more about William Cowper's life read The Hidden Smile of God or at least read Tim Challies' article about William Cowper.

I am so thankful that God's glory is made known to me...
in His Word.
in His Son.
in the testimony of Godly men and women.
through Bible-based, God-glorifying books and 
in the circumstances of life.