Affliction and suffering have been appointed by God as instruments He uses to make us more holy, to make us more like Jesus. They remind us that we are weak and we must rely not on ourselves, but on Jesus. They remind us that this world is not our home but that we are only passing through toward our real home in heaven with our Father, our Savior, Jesus Christ, and our Comforter, the Holy Spirit.
Affliction doth not rise out of the dust or come to men by chance; but it is the Lord that sends it, and we should own and reverence His hand in it.
Iron till it be thoroughly heated is incapable to be wrought; so God sees good to cast some men into the furnace of affliction, and then beats them on His anvil into what frame He desires.
God never allows pain without a purpose in the lives of His children. He never allows Satan, nor circumstances, nor any ill-intending person to afflict us unless He uses that affliction for our good. God never wastes pain. He always causes it to work together for our ultimate good, the good of conforming us more to the likeness of His Son (see Romans 8:28-29).
Transforming Grace, NavPress, 1991, p. 139. Used by permission of NavPress – www.navpress.com. All rights reserved. Get this book!
When afflictions arrest us, we shall murmur and grumble and struggle until we see that it is God that strikes.
When God’s hand is on thy back, let thy hand be on thy mouth, for though the affliction be sharp it shall be but short.
Afflictions make the heart more deep, more experimental, more knowing and profound, and so, more able to hold, to contain, and beat more.
In times of affliction we commonly meet with the sweetest experiences of the love of God.
The Lord does not measure out our afflictions according to our faults, but according to our strength, and looks not what we have deserved, but what we are able to bear.
A Puritan Golden Treasury, compiled by I.D.E. Thomas, by permission of Banner of Truth, Carlisle, PA. 2000, p. 12.
Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, and what I might have got by them.
The Lord can so manifest Himself to His afflicted people that the season of affliction shall be to them a season of great consolation. He is to them – a fountain of life, of strength, of grace and comfort in the afflictive hour – and of His fullness they receive, as their necessities require. The Lord Jesus Christ is a sun to enlighten and cheer His afflicted followers, and a shield to defend them. He is a hiding-place from the storm, a covert from the tempest, and as the shadow of a great rock in a dry and weary land.
All the afflictions of God’s people are designed, under His gracious management – to test, to make manifest, and to exercise, those graces and virtues which He has implanted in them. Though afflictions in themselves are not joyous but grievous, nevertheless they yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness in those who are exercised thereby. Afflictions serve to quicken the spirit of devotion in us; and to rouse us from that formality and indifference which frequently attend a long course of ease and prosperity. We are constrained to seek God with sincerity and fervor, when His chastening hand is upon us, since we then feel our absolute need of that help and deliverance, which He alone can give us.
Afflictions serve most effectually to convince us of the vanity of all that this world can afford, to remind us that this is not our rest and to stir up desires and hopes for our everlasting home. They produce in us a spirit of sympathy towards our companions in tribulation. They give occasion for the exercise of patience, meekness, submission, and resignation. Were it not for the wholesome and necessary discipline of affliction, these excellent virtues would lie dormant. Afflictions serve to convince us more deeply of our own weakness and insufficiency, and to endear the person, the grace, the promises, and the salvation of our Redeemer, more and more to our hearts. Thus we are taught to esteem His very chastisements as precious on account of the benefits we derive from them.
Afflictions are not to punish, but to purify the believing soul. They are not in wrath, but in mercy. Amidst the distresses and miseries of life – it is a felicity to belong to Christ, without whose permission and appointment, no evil can befall us! He always sends afflictions for our good; and knows by experience, what it is to suffer them. His kind hand will speedily put an end to all the pains we feel when we have derived from them all the good which He intends to do for us, by them.
How many, how suitable, how sovereign are the supports our heavenly Father affords to His afflicted children! They make the affliction, which in itself would seem heavy and tedious appear to be light, and but for a moment. It is happier to be in the furnace of affliction with these supports than to be in the highest prosperity without them! Blessed with the hopes and comforts of Christ! The true Christian would prefer the lot of Lazarus, with all the poverty and distress which he endured to the lot of the rich man, who, amidst all the splendor and affluence which this world could afford – lived a life of alienation from God, and destitute of the sovereign supports which can only be enjoyed, by those who love and fear Him.
The more afflictions you have been under, the more assistance you have had for this life of holiness.
Afflictions have the same use and end to our souls, that frosty weather hath upon those clothes that are laid and bleaching, they alter the hue and make them white.
Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces. Sanctified afflictions are spiritual promotions.
I find afflictions to be good for me. I have always found them so. Afflictions are happy means in the hands of the Holy Spirit to subdue my corruptions, my pride, my evil passions, my inordinate love to the creature. Afflictions soften my hard heart, bring me to my knees, increase faith, increase love, increase humility, increase self-denial. Afflictions make me poor in spirit, and nothing in my own eyes.
Afflictions tend to wean us from the world – and to fix our affections on things above.
The sorest afflictions never appear intolerable, but when we see them in the wrong light; when we see them in the hand of God, who dispenses them; when we know that it is our loving Father who abases and distresses us; our sufferings will lose their bitterness and become even a matter of consolation.
Affliction is the best book in my library.
No words can express how much the world owes to sorrow. Most of the Psalms were born in the wilderness. Most of the Epistles were written in a prison. The greatest thoughts of the greatest thinkers have all passed through fire. The greatest poets have “learned in suffering what they taught in song.” In bonds Bunyan lived the allegory that he afterwards wrote, and we may thank Bedford Jail for the Pilgrim’s Progress. Take comfort, afflicted Christian! When God is about to make pre-eminent use of a person, He puts them in the fire.
[Affliction is sometimes] sent for the conversion of the soul. Sometimes in health the Word does not touch the heart. The world is all. Its gaieties, its pleasures, its admiration, captivate your mind. God sometimes draws you aside into a sickbed, and shows you the sin of your heart, the vanity of worldly pleasures and drives the soul to seek a sure resting-place for eternity in Christ. O happy sickness that draws the soul to Jesus (Job 33, Psm. 107).
Your afflictions may only prove that you are more immediately under the Father’s hand. There is no time that the patient is such an object of tender interest to the surgeon, as when he is bleeding beneath his knife. So you may be sure if you are suffering from the hand of a reconciled God, that His eye is all the more bent on you.
[Affliction] brings out graces that cannot be seen in a time of health. It is the treading of the grapes that brings out the sweet juices of the vine; so it is affliction that draws forth submission, weanedness from the world, and complete rest in God. Use afflictions while you have them.
God’s children should not doubt His love when He afflicts. Christ loved Lazarus peculiarly, and yet He afflicted Him very sore. A surgeon never bends his eye so tenderly upon his patient, as when he is putting in the lancet, or probing the wound to the very bottom. And so with Christ – He bends His eye most tenderly over His own at the time He is afflicting them… A goldsmith when he casts gold into the furnace looks after it.
[Affliction] shows the power of Christ’s blood, when it gives peace in an hour of trouble, when it can make happy in sickness, poverty, persecution and death. Do not be surprised if you suffer, but glorify God.
We can stand affliction better than we can stand prosperity, for in prosperity we forget God.
Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful, with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my seventy five years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained… This, of course, is what the Cross signifies. And it is the Cross, more than anything else, that has called me inexorably to Christ.
A believer may pass through much affliction, and yet secure very little blessing from it all. Abiding in Christ is the secret of securing all that the Father meant the chastisement to bring us.
The Lord afflicts us at times; but it is always a thousand times less than we deserve, and much less than many of our fellow-creatures are suffering around us. Let us therefore pray for grace to be humble, thankful, and patient.
Afflictions are light when compared with what we really deserve. They are light when compared with the sufferings of the Lord Jesus. But perhaps their real lightness is best seen by comparing them with the weight of glory which is awaiting us.
When I am in the cellar of affliction, I look for the Lord’s choicest wines.
A Puritan Golden Treasury, compiled by I.D.E. Thomas, by permission of Banner of Truth, Carlisle, PA. 2000, p. 17
Affliction is one of God’s medicines! By it He often teaches lessons which would be learned in no other way. By it He often draws souls away from sin and the world, which would otherwise have perished everlastingly. Health is a great blessing but sanctified disease is a greater. Prosperity and worldly comfort, are what all naturally desire, but losses and crosses are far better for us if they lead us to Christ. Let us beware of murmuring in the time of trouble. Let us settle it firmly in our minds, that there is a meaning, a “needs be”, and a message from God in every sorrow that falls upon us. There are no lessons so useful as those learned in the school of affliction. There is no commentary that opens up the Bible so much as sickness and sorrow. The resurrection morning will prove, that many of the losses of God’s people were in reality, eternal gains. Thousands at the last day will testify with David, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted” (Psalm. 119:71)!
There are some things good but not pleasant, as sorrow and affliction. Sin is pleasant, but unprofitable; and sorrow is profitable, but unpleasant. As waters are purest when they are in motion, so saints are generally holiest when in affliction.
A Puritan Golden Treasury, compiled by I.D.E. Thomas, by permission of Banner of Truth, Carlisle, PA. 2000, p. 285.
Christ chiefly manifests Himself in times of affliction, because then the soul unites itself most closely by faith to Christ. The soul, in time of prosperity, scatters its affections, and looses itself in the creature; but there is a uniting power in sanctified afflictions, by which a believer, (as in rain a hen collects her brood) gathers his best affections unto his Father and his God.
Poverty and affliction take away the fuel that feeds pride.
A Puritan Golden Treasury, compiled by I.D.E. Thomas, by permission of Banner of Truth, Carlisle, PA. 2000, p. 16.
The winter prepares the earth for the spring, so do afflictions sanctified prepare the soul for glory.
Yes, we are promised trouble in the world. Yes, we are not always guaranteed deliverance from our enemies. But we are promised sufficient grace to sustain our soul during all afflictions. And we have the Holy Spirit to give us joy and peace and wisdom and hope during all our afflictions. We have His word that regardless of what happens to us that everything will ultimately turn out for our greatest good. We know our trials are in His hands – hands that are good, loving, wise and sovereign. And when our assigned time on this earth is done we have promises far clearer than anything King David even experienced. We have the hope of being with Him in Paradise for all of eternity.
There is no attribute of God more comforting to His children than the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe troubles, they believe that Sovereignty hath ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all.
Those who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls.
The Lord gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.
The furnace of affliction is a good place for you, Christian; it benefits you; it helps you to become more like Christ, and it is fitting you for heaven.
As sure as God puts His children in the furnace of affliction, He will be with them in it.
Most of the grand truths of God have to be learned by trouble; they must be burned into us with the hot iron of affliction, otherwise we shall not truly receive them.
I would go to the deeps a hundred times to cheer a downcast spirit. It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary.
I am mended by my sickness, enriched by my poverty and strengthened by my weakness… What fools are we, then, to frown upon our afflictions! Those, how crabbed soever, are our best friends. They are not intended for our pleasure, they are for our profit.
The godly have some good in them, therefore the devil afflicts them; and some evil in them, therefore God afflicts them.
It is one heart-quieting consideration in all the afflictions that befall us, that God has a special hand in them: “The Almighty hath afflicted me.” Instruments can no more stir till God gives them a commission, than the axe can cut of itself without a hand. Job eyed God in his affliction: therefore, as Augustine observes, he does not say, “The Lord gave, and the devil took away,” but “The Lord hath taken away.”
A Puritan Golden Treasury, compiled by I.D.E. Thomas, by permission of Banner of Truth, Carlisle, PA. 2000, p. 13.
Affliction may be lasting, but it is not everlasting. Affliction was a sting, but withal a wing: sorrow shall soon fly away.
Afflictions add to the saints’ glory. The more the diamond is cut, the more it sparkles; the heavier the saints’ cross is, the heavier will be their crown.
Whoever brings an affliction, it is God who sends it.