As many as I love I rebuke and chasten (Rev. 3:19).
God takes the most eminent and choicest of His servants for the choicest and most eminent afflictions. They who have received most grace from God are able to bear most afflictions from God. Affliction does not hit the saint by chance, but by direction. God does not draw His bow at a venture. Every one of His arrows goes upon a special errand and touches no breast but his against whom it is sent. It is not only the grace, but the glory of a believer when we can stand and take affliction quietly.
If all my days were sunny, could I say,
"In His fair land He wipes all tears away"?
If I were never weary, could I keep
Close to my heart, "He gives His loved ones sleep"?
Were no graves mine, might I not come to deem
The Life Eternal but a baseless dream?
My winter, and my tears, and weariness,
Even my graves, may be His way to bless.
I call them ills; yet that can surely be
Nothing but love that shows my Lord to me!
"The most deeply taught Christians are generally those who have been brought into the searching fires of deep soul-anguish. If you have been praying to know more of Christ, do not be surprised if He takes you aside into a desert place, or leads you into a furnace of pain."
Do not punish me, Lord, by taking my cross from me, but comfort me by submitting me to Thy will, and by making me to love the cross. Give me that by which Thou shalt be best served... and let me hold it for the greatest of all Thy mercies, that Thou shouldst glorify Thy name in me, according to Thy will.
--A Captive's Prayer