The Benefit of Affliction
Give a man wealth; let his ships bring home continually rich treasure; let the winds and waves appear to be his servants to carry his vessels across the bosom of the mighty deep; let his fields produce abundantly; let the weather be kind to his crops; let uninterrupted success attend him; let him stand among men as a successful merchant; let him enjoy continued health; allow him with braced nerve and brilliant eye to march through the world and live happily; give him the buoyant spirit; let him have a song perpetually on his lips; let his eye be ever sparkling with joy--and the inevitable consequence of such an easy life to any man, even though he may be the best Christian who ever breathed, will be presumption. Even David said, "I shall never be moved"; and we are not better than David, nor half so good.
Brother, beware of the smooth places of the way; if you are treading them, or if the way be rough, thank God for it. If God should always rock us in the cradle of prosperity, if we were always enjoying good fortune, and there were no clouds in the sky, and no bitter drops in the wine of this life, we would become intoxicated with pleasure, and we would dream that we were standing--and stand we should, but it would be upon a pinnacle; like the man asleep upon the mast, each moment we would be in jeopardy.
We bless God, then, for our afflictions; we thank Him for our changes; we extol His name for losses of property; for we feel that if He had not chastened us in this way, we might have become too secure. Continued worldly prosperity is a fiery trial.
Afflictions, though they seem severe,
In mercy oft are sent.
verse 1 Exodus 21
verse 2 Luke 24
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From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.