What benefit is there in afflictions? Does God send them without an object in view? Do they come merely, as the men of the world think, by chance? No! There is benefit intended by them.
The branch cannot bear fruit unless it be pruned. The love of sin cannot be cast out~the soul cannot be meekened, humbled, softened, and made contrite~the world cannot be embittered~the things of time and sense cannot be stripped of their false hue and their magic appearance except through affliction.
Our greatest blessings usually spring from our greatest afflictions~they prepare the heart to receive them~they empty the vessel of the poisonous ingredients which have filled it, and fit it to receive gospel wine and milk.
To be without these afflictions~these griefs~these trials~these temptations is to write ourselves destitute of grace.
But our coward flesh shrinks from them! We are willing to walk to heaven but not to walk there in God's way.
Though we see in the Scripture that the path to glory is a rough and rugged way yet when our feet are planted in that painful and trying path, we shrink back~our coward flesh refuses to walk in that road.
God therefore, as a sovereign, brings those afflictions upon us which He sees most fit for our profit and His glory, without ever consulting us, without ever allowing us a choice in the matter.
And He will generally cause our afflictions to come from the most unexpected source, and in a way most cutting to our feelings~in the way that of all others we would least have chosen and yet in a way which of all others, is most for our profit.
God deals with us like a surgeon dealing with a diseased organ.
How painful the operation! How deep the knife cuts! How long it may be before the wound is healed! Yet every stroke of the knife is indispensable!
A skillful and faithful surgeon would not do his duty if he did not dissect it to the very bottom.
As pain before healing is necessary, and must be produced by the knife~so spiritually, we must be wounded and cut in our souls, as long, and as deeply as God sees needful, that in His own time we may receive the consolation.
Do the afflictions we pass through humble us? Do they deaden the love of the world in our hearts? Do they purge out hypocrisy? Do they bring us more earnestly to the throne of grace? Do they discover to us sins that we have not before seen? Do they penetrate into our very hearts? Do they lay bare the corrupt fountain that we carry within us? Do they search and test us before a heart-searching God? Do they meeken and soften our spirit?
~J. C. Philpot~