looking back upon seasons of affliction …

“Do you not feel, in looking back upon seasons of affliction, that they have been times when, notwithstanding the trials, you have had unusual peace and happiness in your heart? There is a sweet joy which comes to us through sorrow. The bitter wine of sorrow acts with a tonic influence upon the whole system. The sweet cup of prosperity often leaves a bitterness in the taste; but the bitter cup of affliction, when sanctified, always leaves a sweet flavor in the mouth. There is joy in sorrow. There is music in this harp with its strings all unstrung and broken. There are a few notes we hear from this mournful lute which we never get from the loud-sounding trumpet. We obtain a softness and melody from the wail of sorrow, which we never get from the song of joy.
Must we not account for this by the fact, that in our troubles we live nearer to God? Our joy is like the wave as it dashes upon the shore–it throws us on the earth. But our sorrows are like that receding wave which sucks us back again into the great depth of Godhead. We should have been stranded and left high and dry upon the shore, if it had not been for that receding wave, that ebbing of our prosperity, which carried us back to our Father and to our God again. Blessed affliction! it has brought us to the mercy-seat; given life to prayer; enkindled love; strengthened faith; brought Christ into the furnace with us, and then brought us out of the furnace to live with Christ more joyously than before.”

– Charles H. Spurgeon.