THE NEED OF CIRCUMSTANTIAL DEALING
Some are always in the mind, some are too emotional, and some have a strong will. We try to stop, but we cannot. Then what can the Lord do? The only way is for Him to put us into certain circumstances. If you are a man who is very much in the mind, the Lord will bring you into a set of circumstances in which your mind will involve you in trouble. He will put you into a certain kind of suffering. If you are a man with a strong will and none can subdue you, the Lord will place you in a certain kind of circumstance to make you suffer long. Your strong will, month by month and year by year, will be broken and subdued.
In chapters three and four of 2 Corinthians there are two main points. Chapter three says that we are transformed into the image of Christ from glory to glory by the Spirit. But the next chapter tells of all manner of sufferings and circumstances. The Lord comes in to put us into certain situations in order to smash us. I have never known any brother or sister who really loved the Lord and yet never experienced any suffering. All the seeking ones who love the Lord always have some manner of suffering. If a brother is clever in his mentality, the Lord will put him into some perplexing circumstance. One day, he will finally say, "O Lord, no one is as foolish as I!" Before this he always thought he was quite clever. But after a certain amount of suffering, he has been subdued; he admits that he is foolish. Henceforth, he will fear his mind. You need not tell him to stop; he will stop automatically. He has been stopped once for all through the Lord’s working in outward circumstances. There is now the mark of brokenness in his mind.
Some years ago I met a very good sister who was full of natural affection. Then the Lord sent a certain amount of suffering into her life because of her natural love. For years she was afflicted. After considerable time, she came to the point where she hated to use her emotion. There was no need to tell her to stop. From that time, whenever she loved others, the sense of Christ was in her love. She had been transformed from her natural love into the love of Christ, which had been wrought into her by the transforming Spirit through her suffering.
The breaking of our natural soul-life is a lesson which many saints must learn in a hard way. In some cases, it is easy to learn. We need only realize that the Lord is within as life and learn to check ourself by the cross. Some learn this lesson without much difficulty, but for a great number of brothers and sisters it is not so easy. They must experience much trouble and suffering. Some are dealt with for five years, some for ten, and others even longer. All kinds of suffering are brought to them. But they are not to be pitied. They are in the hands of the Lord. Their "outward man is consumed, yet the inward is renewed" (2 Cor. 4:16, Darby’s New Translation). When you meet them after two or three years of the Lord’s dealing, more of Christ is within them. After another two or three years, even more of Christ will be within them. I do not mean that they will say more about Christ. They may not say anything about Christ, but the reality and sense of Christ will be within them. I have heard some talk much about Christ, but the more they talked, the less they had of Christ. It is not a matter of talking about Christ, but of having Christ wrought into us. If you have learned the lesson of being broken, the riches of Christ will be wrought into you. When others meet you, they will sense the fullness and the image of Christ. The natural being has been transformed into the image of Christ. Christ will not only be what you speak, but He will also be the very element of your mind, emotion, and will. The substance of Christ will be in your thinking, in your loving, and in your choosing. There will be a sense of Christ in whatever you are and do. You have been transformed into the image of Christ through the work of breaking in sufferings.
(The Parts of Man, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)