But our coward flesh shrinks from them!

(J. C. Philpot, "The Afflicted Remnant" 1845)

"I have refined you but not in the way silver
 is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the
 furnace of suffering.
" Isaiah 48:10

What benefit is there in afflictions?

Does God send them without an object in view?

Do they come merely, as the men of the world think,
by chance? No! There is benefit intended by them.

The branch cannot bear fruit unless it be pruned.

The love of sin cannot be cast out; the soul cannot
be meekened, humbled, softened, and made contrite;
the world cannot be embittered; the things of time
and sense cannot be stripped of their false hue and
their magic appearance--except through affliction.

Our greatest blessings usually spring from our greatest
afflictions--they prepare the heart to receive them; they
empty the vessel of the poisonous ingredients which
have filled it, and fit it to receive gospel wine and milk.

To be without . . .
  these afflictions,
  these griefs,
  these trials,
  these temptations,
is to write ourselves destitute of grace.

But our coward flesh shrinks from them!

We are willing to walk to heaven; but not to walk
there in God's way. Though we see in the Scripture
that the path to glory is a rough and rugged way;
yet when our feet are planted in that painful and
trying path
, we shrink back; our coward flesh refuses
to walk in that road.

God therefore, as a sovereign, brings those afflictions
upon us which He sees most fit for our profit and His
glory, without ever consulting us, without ever allowing
us a choice in the matter.

And He will generally cause our afflictions to come from
the most unexpected source, and in a way most cutting
to our feelings--in the way that of all others we would
least have chosen--and yet in a way which of all others,
is most for our profit.

God deals with us like a surgeon dealing with a
diseased organ. How painful the operation!

How deep the knife cuts!

How long it may be before the wound is healed!

Yet every stroke of the knife is indispensable!
A skillful and faithful surgeon would not do his
duty if he did not dissect it to the very bottom.

As pain before healing is necessary, and must be
produced by the knife; so spiritually, we must be
wounded and cut in our souls, as long, and as
deeply as God sees needful
, that in His own
time we may receive the consolation.

Do the afflictions we pass through humble us?

Do they deaden the love of the world in our hearts?

Do they purge out hypocrisy?

Do they bring us more earnestly to the throne of grace?

Do they discover to us sins that we have not before seen?

Do they penetrate into our very hearts?

Do they lay bare the corrupt fountain that we carry within us?

Do they search and test us before a heart-searching God?

Do they meeken and soften our spirit?

"I have refined you but not in the way silver
 is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the
 furnace of suffering.
" Isaiah 48:10