How is affliction a blessing?
(James W. Alexander, “Consolation” 1852 edited) “It is good for me that I have been afflicted!” Ps. 119:71
We are all familiar with suffering. We are either now
enduring, or shall at some future time endure severe
afflictions. There are few of us therefore to whom the
inquiry may not be interesting–how is affliction a
blessing? The question may be thus answered.
The trials which God allows upon His children
are profitable to them–as they tend under the Divine
blessing to promote piety in the heart….by which
our heavenly Father fits His children for their eternal
rest in glory.Trials are useful because…
1. they tend to convince the believer of his misery,and show him that without Christ he cannot be happy.One great end of your affliction is answered, when youare led to commence and persevere in a faithful andearnest application to Christ, as the great Physician.
2. as a trial of faith. Adversity is compared to the fire,the furnace, the refining-pot or crucible, because it notonly purifies–but tries; it not only consumes the dross–but ascertains the gold.
3. it strengthens faith, by leading the believer to thepromises–and especially to the Lord Jesus Christ.
4. it leads the believer to exercise entire submissionto the Divine will.
5. it leads the believer to look for complete happinessin heaven alone. Let the worst, most lingering, and mostaggravated instance of suffering be presented–and thehope of heaven is still sufficient to mitigate its ills!It is well to learn to look beyond all secondary, earthly,imperfect comforts–to God, the source of good, and tothat world where all tears are wiped away!
In pain, and despondency, and grief, we go to Jesus
as to a friend who sticks closer than a brother. We
pour our sorrows into His friendly ear, and ask His
aid, and then, when He reveals to us His love, and
speaks His promises, and unveils His face, even though
He gives no assurance that we shall be set free, He does
more–He gives us Himself, and faith is refreshed and
nourished by receiving Him. And shall we not regard
as a mercy–that illness, or that bereavement, or that
severe trial–which so embitters the world’s cup, as to
lead us to Christ, that we may see His beauty, and be
filled with His love?
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